The Oscar Curse: Is Best Actress Natalie Portman Headed for Divorce?
Or in the case of this year's winner, Natalie Portman, how soon before she and new fiance Benjamin Millepied call it quits?
It's become a well-publicized fact that the former Best Actress winners have a curiously high rate of ending their relationships in the years following their win.
Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt called it quits after her 2001 win for "Erin Brockovich." The very next year Halle Berry and Eric Benet divorced after she won for "Monster's Ball." In '05 Hillary Swank ended her 13-year marriage to Chad Lowe, just one year after collecting the award for "Million Dollar Baby," then Reese Witherspoon split with Ryan Phillippe after her "Walk the Line" success. Not to mention Kate Winslet, whose marriage to Sam Mendes sunk, post-"Titanic".
And, of course, there's the breakup America still shudders at the thought of: Sandra Bullock's whip-lash fall from awards-season sweetheart to scorned wife of the philandering Jesse James.
How could a trend that consistent possibly be a coincidence?
According the rag mags, the Best Actress Curse is a classic case of men who can't stand a career spent on the arm of someone infinitely more successful. It's true that in all the examples above the men were far out-shined by their winning women. But in my opinion (full disclosure: that of a non-Oscar-winning non-actress who's only six months in to life in L.A.) -- there are far more what-went-wrong options than just that:
1. She's after power-couple status
There's Brangelina-level power couple-dom, and then there's everything else. And with that level of combined star power comes a world of opportunity and access that's the goal of every fame monger. So if you're a Best Actress winner looking to maintain your reign, you need a man with just as much star power by your side. In that case, the Ryan Phillippes and Chad Lowes of the world just aren't enough, leading A-list actresses caught up in the fame game to either end it ... or inspire the man to do the dirty work.
2. He didn't bargain for the A-list life
Not to be confused with the "his confidence can't handle being the B-lister in an A-list life." Winning the Academy Award for best actress catapults a star and her career to a place you cannot prepare to go, no matter how close you are to the Hollywood machine. The control an A-list actress has over her personal life changes after that win, and, with that, so do family priorities, relationship nurturing, and a whole host of things we normal folk will never understand. It is entirely possible that even the most understanding man -- even a man who's spent his whole life around the movie business -- could experience what it means to be married to someone on top and decide that life is not for him. In this case, it's not her fault nor is it his -- the downfall of their relationship is just a product of one person reaching the top rung of their chosen career ladder.
3. She's "advised" against him
One of the most fascinating things about Hollywood is the hundreds of puppet masters who make this crazy world go 'round. From rumors like the idea that Katie Holmes' and Tom Cruises' relationship could be just a contract set up by both of their "people," to things as simple as a leading lady's publicist making it clear that her marriage is hurting, not helping, her image. Unlike the actress in the first scenario -- that is, the girl after power-couple status - this actress has given the people managing her career too much influence over her decisions. She's lost control to the point where she can't trust herself to make her own, even about love and her personal life.
4. It's just a numbers game
It's not that Best Actress winners get divorced in conspicuously high numbers, it's that all actresses get divorced in numbers that make most people steer clear of La La Land. The Academy Award-winners are just a coincidental subset of a bigger trend. That trend very well may be tied to all the issues above, but the Oscar curse is actually just an Actress curse with a made-for-media-attention twist.
5. He really can't handle being less successful
Or maybe it is just that Benjamin Bratt couldn't handle playing second fiddle to Julia Roberts. Maybe Jesse cheated on Sandra because her success drove his confidence so low that he went elsewhere for attention. Much of Hollywood is made up of insecure narcissists who live and die by their page count in People and number rank in the annual Hollywood Top 40. Maybe the men who deflate our beloved Best Actresses with a post-win divorce just can't handle being the duller star in the firmament.
Whichever theory is at the root of this unfortunate coincidence, I hope Natalie and Ben prove it wrong. Maybe if you do it all backward, and the actress is engaged but not married, has a baby well on the way and is under the age of 30, the curse doesn't hold?
Jessie Rosen recently moved from New York to Los Angeles to pursue her show business dreams. She writes the blog 20-nothings, about getting through that decade with minimal wind resistance, no matter where you live.
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