Celeb Couples Who Broke Up But Still Worked Together

Even for celeb couples, there's no way around it — going through a breakup sucks. What sucks even worse is going through a breakup when you work with your ex. When a "regular couple" who works together splits, it's reasonable to assume they can sidestep each other. You can awkwardly duck into your cubicle anytime your former flame walks by. You can carefully orchestrate the times you arrive and leave each day so as not to suffer through the deafening silence of a shared elevator. You can avoid the break room like a plague. 

For celebrities, this proves particularly tricky. Can you imagine having to show up to work every day and make out with your ex, or pretend like you're together and happy? Even worse, what if you called off your engagement in real life but had to marry your former betrothed onscreen? 

That's precisely the sort of emotional torture the following celebrities endured when they broke up but still collaborated creatively. And, impressively, many even managed to remain friends after the fact. 

Jennifer Carpenter and Michael C. Hall

On the grisly Showtime series Dexter, Jennifer Carpenter played Deb — the adopted sister of Michael C. Hall's eponymous serial killer. Despite the fact that there wasn't any intimacy between the two on set (aside from in Deb's dreams after falling "in love" with Dex), they worked about as closely as you can for the duration of the series. You can see how that might have been tense at times, given they were married and divorced within Dexter's span. The show aired from 2006 to 2013; Carpenter and Hall married in 2008 and divorced in 2011.

However, the couple insists that they kept their relationship professional on set and amicable off. During a PaleyFest panel, Hall called it "gratifying" that he and Carpenter could remain true to the show and finish it out together.

Visibly emotional, Carpenter added, "Like, our marriage didn't look like anyone else's, and our divorce didn't either... I've said it before, and we've said it before, that, like, just because the marriage ended doesn't mean the love did." 

Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev

When Nina Dobrev announced in 2015 that she was leaving The Vampire Diaries after six seasons, fans threw a veritable fit. The prevailing speculation? That the actress must be leaving due to her 2013 breakup with costar Ian Somerhalder, whom she met on set and dated for three years. But Dobrev quickly nipped any rumors about drama in the bud, telling E! News, "I've said this before, that we didn't break up because anything bad happened or because there wasn't love or friendship."

The actress — who played Elena, the love interest of Somerhalder's character, Damon — also pointed out that their relationship didn't exist solely in the vacuum of the show, saying, "We were friends long before we dated and we still are now."

While Dobrev did ultimately decide to leave the show prior to its end, she returned for the series finale to give fans closure. And that closure looked like Elena and Damon living happily ever after, even if the actors portraying them had moved on IRL. 

Chad Michael Murray and Sophia Bush

Gird yourselves, because this is one celebrity-costar-breakup story that doesn't end with a warm and fuzzy friendship. One Tree Hill hit TV screens in 2003. By 2005, costars Sophia Bush and Chad Michael Murray were married. However, the couple split up five months into the ill-fated union, with the rumor mill reporting Murray strayed with his House of Wax co-star, Paris Hilton. 

Since OTH continued and Murray didn't leave until 2009, the ex-couple had to play nice for four more years. And judging by Bush's 2014 appearance on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live, it wasn't exactly smooth sailing. When a caller asked if the exes stayed in touch, Bush diplomatically explained that her mother told her "not to say anything at all" if you had nothing nice to say. 

She did clarify, though, saying, "We were two stupid kids who had no business being in a relationship in the first place" and that working together forced them to "deal with it." 

Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco

It's said that opposites attract, and that's certainly true of Kaley Cuoco's and Johnny Galecki's characters on The Big Bang Theory. Penny and Leonard are about as different as they come, and yet the quirky onscreen couple fell in love. Off-screen, life imitated art for the eclectic pairing. 

"We dated for almost two years," Cuoco told CBS Watch Magazine (via Us Weekly). "It was such a huge part of my life and no one knew about it." The actress called her time with Galecki wonderful but admitted they both realized they weren't meant to be. "We accepted it and said, 'Look, if we ever break up, we will be professional,'" Cuoco said. "I'm so lucky it was a mutual ending and that we don't hate each other. We've seen that happen on other shows." 

True to their word, Cuoco and Galecki have remained friends in real life — and their characters even went on to get married (twice, no less).

Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson

On the '90s teen drama Dawson's Creek, a classic tug-of-war commenced between Pacey (Joshua Jackson) and Dawson (James Van Der Beek) over — what else? — a girl. Katie Holmes brought to life Joey, the object of their affections. On the show and in real life, the same guy got the girl. Only, in real life, it didn't last. 

Dawson's Creek devotees undoubtedly know the lucky dude was Jackson. Joey deemed Dawson her soulmate and Pacey the guy she wanted to be with. Off-screen, Holmes and Jackson enjoyed a much less dramatic courtship, as Holmes tells it. "I fell in love, had my first love, and it was something so incredible and indescribable that I will treasure it always," she told Rolling Stone in 1998. "And that I feel so fortunate because he's now one of my best friends." 

It seems they've held onto that fondness, too. In 2012, after Holmes divorced Tom Cruise, she phoned her old lover-turned-friend. "Like any old friend, it was like, 'Oh, hi how are ya? What's going on?'; 'I had a kid.' It was very nice, actually," Jackson told Us Weekly.

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart

It seemed like a match made in YA movie heaven when Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart fell in love while filming the Twilight franchise. You know, given the fact that their characters, Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, were bound for all eternity. Oh, but 'twas the scandal to end all scandals when K-Stew cheated on R. Pattz with her then-married Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders in 2012. 

Stewart immediately went on the offensive, issuing a statement saying she was "deeply sorry" for the pain she had caused to the people close to her — especially the "most important thing in my life," Pattinson. And, hey, her method of damage control seemed to get the job done. Not only did the couple briefly reunite romantically, but they continued to promote the final Twilight film together after they split for good. 

Pattinson didn't seem to harbor any grudges against his former love in 2014, when he gave a candid interview to Esquire. "S*** happens, you know?" he told the magazine, laughing when asked about the scandal. "It's just young people... it's normal! And honestly, who gives a s***?" 

Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody

Real life is inherently messy and complicated, and it's not as easy to wrap up in a tidy bow to present for public amelioration like it is onscreen. The O.C.'s Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody experienced this firsthand when their characters wound up walking down the aisle while their real relationship fizzled mid-series.

That's not to say Bilson and Brody parted on unfriendly terms, though. In 2017, Bilson confessed to E! News that she only kept in touch with showrunner Josh Schwartz — but that she felt like a reunion would be a great excuse to get the gang back together. "I'm always open to things," she said. "I don't know what it would look like with our characters being old now. We were riding skateboards on the pier; I don't know what they do now as 30-year-olds. But it would be nice to see everybody again."

As for Brody, he clearly remembers his time with Bilson fondly. When a fan asked in a Reddit Ask Me Anything forum if Bilson was a good kisser, Brody replied, "One of the all time greats!" Creepy question, but cute response, no? 

Blake Lively and Penn Badgley

Can you keep a secret? 'Cause Blake Lively and Penn Badgley can. For the first few seasons of Gossip Girl, they enjoyed an arguably more stable romance than their onscreen alter egos, Serena and Dan. However, they kept it — and their breakup — largely secret. "The shocking thing was, I found out on the set of the Season 2 finale that Blake and Penn had broken up months before," executive producer Joshua Safran told Vanity Fair in 2008. Up until that point, Safran didn't sense any drama with the couple. 

Of course, there had to be, right? Otherwise, they probably wouldn't have called it quits. Badgley hinted as much during a 2015 appearance on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live when a caller asked about his best onscreen kiss. "I'll say it was Blake because we actually had a relationship at the time," he said, continuing with a smirk, "And the worst, maybe Blake after we broke up." 

Don't fret, GG shippers! Badgley added that the two were consummate professionals and "handled it." And in an interview with HuffPost Live, he said the entire cast is all "very close, I think, in our hearts." 

Nicholas Hoult and Jennifer Lawrence

Being somewhat of a cultural zeitgeist for young Hollywood, Jennifer Lawrence makes headlines anytime she's spotted with someone of the opposite sex — especially when it's someone she works with. So, naturally, paparazzi constantly scrambled to catch photos of Lawrence with her X-Men costar Nicholas Hoult after news broke they were dating. Surprisingly, the low-key couple largely managed to stay out of the spotlight until they split.

Although her heartbreak wasn't evident in interviews or press appearances at the time, Lawrence revealed to Diane Sawyer in 2015 that the loss of the relationship rattled her. It lasted five years and ended around the same time she wrapped the Hunger Games films, so Lawrence says "being 24 was this whole year of, 'Who am I without these movies? Who am I without this man?'"

She's since figured it out, at least enough to remain close to Hoult. On Marc Maron's WTF podcast, Lawrence confirmed she's still friends with all her exes. She singled out Hoult in particular, saying, "Nick was a great boyfriend." After the breakup, they went on to co-star in X-Men: Apocalypse and in 2019's X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak

Are they? Aren't they? Who the heck knows. The Office co-stars Mindy Kaling and B.J. Novak continue to keep fans guessing about their romantic status. It's been over a decade since they first started dating — which, coincidentally, occurred around the same time as their characters' romance — and shippers still carry a torch for these two.

It doesn't help that Kaling and Novak refuse to rule out the possibility. In a 2014 interview with People, Novak called his on-again-off-again ex "a really complicated person and a really complicated friendship, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world." In 2015, Kaling told InStyle that their relationship was best described as a "romantically charged camaraderie with loud arguments" that was "weird as hell."

When Novak tweeted a sweet message about Kaling after her 2018 film, A Wrinkle in Time premiered, Kaling was moved to tears, gushing, "Oh my god I'm like full crying. I will never be mad at you again." To top it off, you could practically hear Office shipper hearts everywhere exploding when Novak accompanied Kaling to the 90th Academy Awards. 

Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer

Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer enjoyed a relationship onscreen and off while they were costars on House, with neither panning out in the long run. In 2007, the couple — who'd gotten engaged mere months prior — issued a statement via People about their real-life split, insisting, "We are still very close, and we look forward to continuing to work together on House."

And work together they did for another two-and-half-years, at which point Morrison left the show to pursue other projects. In the wake of the breakup, though, Spencer told the Herald Sun that "for a while I didn't know where I was." Once he got his wits about him, the actor had an epiphany. "All of my girlfriends have been actors," he told TimeOut in 2015, "and I've realized that maybe it's not for me — and find something else outside of the industry."

Happily, Morrison and Spencer reunited as friends and costars (albeit briefly) for House's series finale in 2012. 

Dave Annable and Emily VanCamp

When Brothers & Sisters' producers brought on Emily VanCamp to play the half-sister of Dave Annable's character, they had no idea what a quagmire they were creating. For two people who were supposed to be siblings, the pair wasn't exactly giving fans a familial vibe. Accordingly, it wasn't any huge surprise when that heat parlayed into a romance in real life

"I looked like an idiot," executive producer Greg Berlanti told Entertainment Weekly. "Here were two young people who didn't grow up with each other, didn't know each other, but they had this electricity. There was nothing I could do." Well, that's not entirely true — Berlanti and his team rewrote the roles so that the characters, Rebecca and Justin, could explore that chemistry.

When VanCamp confirmed she was leaving the show, she genuinely seemed to wish her ex the best. "I think this will give Dave Annable [Justin] an opportunity to do some different things, which will be exciting for him," she told Entertainment Weekly. Ironically, those different and exciting things included co-starring with Odette Yustman, whom Annable went on to wed in November 2010

Drew Barrymore and Justin Long

It's official — when it comes to former costars-turned-lovers-turned-exes, no one could possibly be more precious than Drew Barrymore and Justin Long. The pair first popped up in headlines as a possible couple while filming He's Just Not That Into You, but they had reportedly broken up by the time the film premiered in 2009. However, the following year brought yet another film in which their simpatico characters dated: Going the Distance

Were they dating again, or simply super-friendly exes who enjoy working together? They'll never tell. "We never talk about it when we're together and even when we're not. It never, ever will be addressed. Mystery is sexy," Barrymore coyly told Digital Journal in 2010. 

What the sometimes-couple isn't shy about discussing is their mutual affection. Barrymore told The Telegraph one reason she signed on for Going the Distance was because she knew her chemistry with Long "would be honest."