Joaquin Phoenix and Liv Tyler Kept Their Relationship a Secret on the Set of Their 1997 Film
#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.
Who: Three-time Oscar-nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix, 44, and SAG Award-winning actress Liv Tyler, 42.
How They Met: The actor pair met while filming romantic drama Inventing the Abbotts in the mid ‘90s. "I fell in love with Joaquin the second I saw him," Tyler told The Morning Call in 1997. They kept their relationship hidden from everyone on the film using a (needlessly) elaborate ruse. “[Joaquin] would sit at the other end of the makeup trailer and say, 'Oh, my God, [Liv’s] such a babe,' and talk to the makeup girl. It would be like, 'I could never get her,' and she believed him,” Tyler explained.
Why We Loved Them: Their brand of young celebrity love was just so pure. “I didn't feel threatened or afraid of the idea to get involved with him when we were working,” Tyler said of the relationship. “I just kind of knew and hoped and prayed that I would love him forever.” Phoenix was “moved by” his co-star’s “honesty” and valued her friendship above all. "What I felt about her was that I have a new friend, a really great friend,” he shared.
When They Peaked: It’s honestly possible that their peak is still forthcoming. Phoenix and Tyler remained friends following their 1998 split, and it wasn't the kind of “friendship” a publicist’s breakup statement promises (you know the kind), but a friendship that includes supporting each other’s ventures and recording videos for charity together (see this incredibly strange To Write Love on Her Arms video from 2010, feat. a pre-Bangerz Miley Cyrus).
In 2015, Tyler attended a benefit for The Lunchbox Fund, which counts Phoenix and his sister Rain as members of its board of directors. Tyler was totally chill about brushing shoulders with her ex, telling Elle, “I consider Joaquin and all of his sisters to be like family. We were so young when we were together, like 18 to 21. He was my first love. So he's a huge part of even my sense of humor. Like, [my son] Milo will say something and I'll say, 'Wow, that's something that Rain said! That's something Joaquin said!' Because they were such a big part of those years when you're just starting out on your own. I have so much love for that family. I learned a lot from them.”
The Breakup: Phoenix and Tyler ultimately went their separate ways because they … stopped fighting? During an interview with Cosmopolitan in 1999, he said, "I’m a great believer in people coming into your life, and you into theirs, for a reason. And I know that when Liv and I met, it was for a reason — I really needed her and she really needed me. And at a certain point, I think we stopped evolving with each other, stopped progressing, and made a very mature decision to move on, even though there was still a great love there. There’s no one gossipy thing that I can share. I’m thankful that we had the time we had." Nice, but also, "When you become satisfied, you stop fighting, and I like fighting. It means that I’m constantly progressing and evolving. I`m never satisfied, and hopefully, I never will be."
Testament to how smooth the split was, nearly 15 years later Phoenix told The Guardian he'd never "felt heartbroken" following a relationship. "The closest I've got is getting my ego bruised a little bit. But I've never had the experience of, 'That was somebody I really loved and I'm not done," he explained.
Where They Are Now: Phoenix is reportedly engaged to actress Rooney Mara, whom he starred alongside in 2018 film Mary Magdalene.
In the years since his split with Tyler, Phoenix has risen to become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after (and unpredictable) actors. Most recently, he’s earned critical acclaim for origin film Joker.
VIDEO: Liv Tyler Dons Bangs for Ad Astra Premiere
Tyler is engaged to sports agent Dave Gardner, with whom she shares two children (Sailor, 4, and Lula, 3). She also shares a 14-year-old son, Milo, with ex-husband Royston Langdon.
The actress can most recently be seen in Ad Astra and Hulu series Harlots. Last month it was announced that she’ll lead Austin-based 9-1-1 spin-off series 9-1-1: Lone Star opposite Rob Lowe.