In a statement to People, Pitt said: “I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the well-being of our kids. I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time.”
The actress listed Sept. 15 as the date of their separation and cited irreconcilable differences, according to TMZ. She is seeking physical custody of the couple’s six children while granting Pitt visitation, the outlet reported.
Rumors of a potential split or divorce have swirled around the couple for some time. Jolie and Pitt have been romantically linked for years but did not marry until 2014. Only close family and friends attended the private ceremony, including their six children, who at the time ranged in age from 6 to 13.
The infatuation between Pitt and Jolie (or “Brangelina,” as they were known) famously began on the set of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” in 2004. Jolie once told the New York Times she was excited about eventually showing the film to their children because “not a lot of people get to see a movie where their parents fell in love.”
This comment drew backlash, of course, because Pitt was still married to Jennifer Aniston during filming. Pitt and Aniston — known as Hollywood’s golden couple — shocked the entertainment industry when they split in early 2005. Speculation swirled about Pitt and Jolie; a couple of months later, rumors were confirmed when the two were photographed on a beach in Kenya playing with Jolie’s 3-year-old son, Maddox.
Thus began one of the most controversial couplings in Hollywood history. People took sides: Team Aniston or Team Jolie. At first, Pitt and Jolie refused to comment on their relationship, instead doing things such as posing as a happy family in a W magazine photo shoot in July 2005. “There’s a sensitivity chip that’s missing,” Aniston told Vanity Fair about her ex after the photos published.
But observers could fill in the gaps, such as when Pitt went to Ethiopia with Jolie in the summer of 2005 on her trip to adopt her daughter, Zahara. (“People are going to try to say it’s about their relationship. It’s not. Angelina’s adopting as a single mother, and she wants that emphasized,” an “insider” told People at the time.) However, they finally confirmed what the world knew in winter 2006, when Pitt filed to legally adopt Maddox and Zahara.
Shortly after, they dropped the bombshell that not only were they officially a couple, but Jolie was pregnant with Pitt’s baby. The first pictures of little Shiloh Jolie-Pitt reportedly went to People magazine and the British press for nearly $8 million combined; the proceeds went to charity.
About a year later, the couple adopted Pax, a 3-year-old from Vietnam. In summer 2008, Jolie gave birth to twins, Vivienne and Knox, and the tabloid obsession over the family only grew: People magazine and London’s Hello! split a $14 million price tag for the first photos.
The glamorous family captured headlines as they traveled around the world together, with the children joining their parents wherever they filmed, from Los Angeles to France to Australia. Speculation about their marital status followed them for years, though Pitt said they would not get married until same-sex marriage was legal.
They got engaged in 2012. Pitt told CBS News that they were receiving increased pressure from their kids, who were telling him, “Get Mommy a ring!” About two years later, the couple tied the knot at a small ceremony in France. In true quirky Jolie style, the actress incorporated her children’s artwork into her Donatella Versace wedding dress.
In 2013, Jolie wrote a New York Times op-ed about deciding to have a double mastectomy after discovering she carried a gene that sharply increased her risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. The piece sparked a larger conversation about the preventive procedure.
“I am fortunate to have a partner, Brad Pitt, who is so loving and supportive,” she wrote. “So to anyone who has a wife or girlfriend going through this, know that you are a very important part of the transition. Brad was at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, where I was treated, for every minute of the surgeries. We managed to find moments to laugh together. We knew this was the right thing to do for our family and that it would bring us closer. And it has.”
More recently, Jolie has taken up directing, including 2014’s “Unbroken” and 2015’s “By the Sea,” the latter of which starred Pitt and Jolie as a troubled married couple.
“We were joking at one point,” Jolie said during a 2015 interview on the “Today” show. “We were saying, like … ‘See, this is the beginning. And then this is 10 years later. This is what 10 years of marriage will do to you.’ ”
[This post has been updated.]