Hollywood’s relationship graveyard is littered with all sorts of former couples: There are the ones we wish never got together in the first place, the ones who still have us mourning their split, the ones we’re still holding out hope will find their way back to one another someday.
And then there are the ones that, when we come across their gravestone, we say to ourselves, “Huh. That happened?”
Case in point? The brief and mysterious—and all but forgotten—marriage between Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson.
Though both have more than moved on from their failed romance and are currently in swoon-worthy couplings that we can’t get enough of—he in a four-year-old marriage to Blake Lively that’s yielded two babies and might be one of our favorite relationships out there, she in an almost year-old relationship with Saturday Night Live star and head writer Colin Jost—there’s something rather remarkable about their marriage, which was made official exactly a decade ago. And that’s the fact that they both managed to keep it one of the most stealth marriages in an industry not exactly known for its discretion.
When Scarlett and Ryan began dating in April of 2007, she’d been single for about a year following a breakup with actor Josh Hartnett in 2006, while he was freshly on the rebound, his engagement to singer and fellow Canadian Alanis Morissette called off only two months prior after four years of dating, nearly two of them spent engaged. And from the jump, they did whatever they could to keep the prying eyes of the world at large out of their business.
Though they were occasionally photographed out in public with one another, they never confirmed their courtship, with reps for both routinely refusing to comment. And as this was a few years out from the social media boom that would make it nearly impossible for stars to go anywhere or do anything without people catching wind, they were able to keep things as stealth as they pleased. There was no gushing to the press, no elaborate photo shoots staged for the press. In fact, our next update on the two wouldn’t come until Scarlett’s rep confirmed their engagement on May 5, 2008.
“They’re both thrilled,” the rep told People at the time. So thrilled, it seemed, that when ScarJo attended the Met Gala later that day—back when was still known as the Costume Institute Gala—she walked the red carpet alone, albeit with a gorgeous diamond sparkler on her left hand. (In fairness, Ryan was off filming The Proposal in Boston at the time. But also, keeping it real, Boston and NYC aren’t that far apart.) At the time, sources told E! News that the couple had actually been betrothed for “for a little while,” but were waiting for the right time to break the news.
Four months later, with absolutely zero fanfare, the couple tied the knot on September 28 in a private ceremony at a remote wilderness retreat outside of Vancouver, B.C. With only a handful of family and friends in attendance, the elusive couple made sure that no one knew anything about the big day whom they didn’t feel deserved to. That meant no leaked photos, no People cover story with the exclusive first look at the bride in her wedding dress. Nothing.
As the newlyweds embarked on their first year of marriage, they began to express a bit more comfort in speaking about one another publicly, albeit the tiniest of bits imaginable. During a visit to The Late Show with David Letterman, Ryan talked married life—”Not a lot of work talk around the house”—and, at greater length, the 10,000 bees he received as a wedding gift from a one Samuel L. Jackson. In a Glamour interview released around their first anniversary, Scarlett commented on Ryan’s appearance, noting she thought it was weird to watch.
“I would never ask somebody about their marriage if I didn’t know them. I don’t profess to know anything about marriage that anybody else doesn’t know, or how to make it right. I don’t want to read about somebody who’s giving me relationship advice,” she told the publication. “So I try to keep some things for myself, to have a private life. Because that’s kind of all you have, really, isn’t it? When it comes down to what separates you from the next person. You don’t go to work and talk about your marriage. Why should I?”
But by December of that year, it appeared that being married to a fellow actor was beginning to take its toll, as Scarlett, who’d just become part of the Marvel family with Iron Man 2, admitted in Time Out. “We have no time for dates. We work and then go home and—I, anyway—just stare at the wall for a few hours before I go to sleep,” she said. “Like in any profession, it’s difficult. You want to make sure you have time to invest in your family. It’s a challenge, but it’s worth it.”
By early 2010, work had the couple living apart, with Scarlett treading the boards on Broadway and Ryan down in the Big Easy filming The Green Lantern alongside future wife Blake. By March, their $4.5 million dollar Los Angeles home was put on the market amid rumors of marital discord, though sources said the sale was only because they were hoping to move to New York City permanently.
That May, she graced the cover of InStyle, where she opened up about enjoying cooking for Ryan, while praising married life. “I mean, you’re married and suddenly you have your own family. There’s a nice comfort in that,” she said. “That part of your life is certain, in a way. You’ve got your home in that other person.” A month later, she took home the Tony for her work in A View From the Bridge and Ryan was there in the audience, beaming with pride.
But as summer turned to fall, rumors about trouble in paradise surfaced once again, with the chatter being that their conflicting schedules were tearing them apart. Naturally, reps for the couple denied that there was any truth to the talk, but fans soon learned that, as always, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. On December 14, 2010, after just over two years of marriage, the couple revealed that they were throwing in the towel.
“After long and careful consideration on both our parts, we’ve decided to end our marriage,” their joint statement read. “We entered our relationship with love and it’s with love and kindness we leave it. While privacy isn’t expected, it’s certainly appreciated.”
In the eight years since their split, both have spoken about the relationship and its demise a bit more freely than they ever did while they were in the throes of it.
In 2011, Ryan spoke with Details, saying, “I’ll say this – the media wasn’t invited to my marriage, and they’re definitely not invited into the divorce. My face was on the cover of magazines I’d worked very hard to prevent being in.”
At the time, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to ever have another wedding again, telling the publication, “I don’t think I want to get married again. But you always re-evaluate these things. Any kind of crisis can be good. It wakes you up. I gotta say, I’m a different person than I was six months ago.”
The following April, with their divorce finally finalized, Scarlett spoke with Vogue about the marriage and its dissolution. “We always kept our story private—how we met, our wedding, everything,” she said of the relationship. “It was about us.”
Despite calling the breakup “comically amicable”—so much for those rumors that Blake might’ve come between them—she admitted that the divorce was still “horrible” and “devastating,” while openly wishing she and Ryan had been able to give each other more time: “I’m not saying more time in the marriage, but just having more time with my ex and really clocking those hours of face time with the person you love, really live together and not having the pressure of two people that have these careers…”
In more recent years, Scarlett, who went on to marry French businessman Romain Dauriac in 2014, the same year they welcomed their daughter Rose into the world, before divorcing in 2017 and ultimately finding her way to her new SNL boo, has alluded to the fact that greater forces than conflicting schedules at play when it came to her split from Ryan.
A 2015 interview with Parade saw her say this about relationships involving two actors: “Acting is a very strange world to be co-existing in. It’s very volatile. There’s always going to be the more successful person. It’s related to rejection. Because actors, if they’re not having success, connect it directly to unpopularity—to the fact that nobody wants them. It’s not necessarily true. I’m constantly rejected. [Marriage] takes a lot of work. It takes a man who’s not only confident in the love that you have for one another, but confident in what he has going on in his own career.”
And a Cosmopolitan cover story in May of 2016 saw her echo those same thoughts, as she said, “The logistics of being with another actor are challenging. There has to be a real understanding of how you share your time, especially when two people’s careers are going at the same rate. Or even if one person is more successful than the other, that also proves challenging. There may be a competitive thing.”
You connect the dots.
While they’ve both moved on to greener pastures, creating families of their own and piloting their careers to greater heights than either had managed to reach during their years together, their brief union will always be there, a mysterious footnote in the Wikipedia pages of their lives. And there’s no amount of stealth living that can avoid that.
And that’s your Hollywood history lesson for today.