Are The Oscars Relationship Killers Or Is It All Just A Myth?

27.02.2018 Diana Boettcher
ⒸAhmet Yalçınkaya – Unsplash

Receiving an Oscar is one of the highlights or even the highlight in an actor’s career, but does the joy of winning the award come with the risk of a relationship breakup? What I’m talking about here is also known as the “Oscar love curse” –  it’s when an actor’s relationship ends shortly after receiving the Academy Award. Many believe that this typically happens to actresses and less so to their male colleagues.

On March 4, this year’s winners in the 24 categories will be announced. I thought that was reason enough for me to dig a little deeper and explore whether there actually is anything to the “Oscar love curse”. I’ve looked at the winners and nominees in the categories “Best Actor in a Leading Role”, “Best Actress in a Leading Role”, “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” and “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” and analyzed the relationship status of the 110 actors who over the past 11 years have either won Oscars or have been nominated.

Remarkably, and in contrast to public opinion, it was not the actresses’ but more the male actors’ relationships that ended shortly after they had received an Academy Award. What the data tells us is that actresses are four times less likely to break up than their male counterparts.

Of the winners in the category “Best Actor in a Leading Role”, 36 percent separated in the weeks after receiving the award. And of those nominated for this category, it was still high at 27 percent.

Actresses also have reason for concern, though, as 27 percent of the winners in the category “Best Actress in a Leading Role” broke up soon after bringing home the golden statuette.

The winners and nominees in the categories “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” or “Best Actress in a Supporting Role”, however, have very little to worry about as only one winner across the categories and eight of the 88 women as well as eight of the 88 men nominated saw their relationship fall apart.

As a couples therapist, I don’t think that’s simply down to chance or bad luck. I often observe very similar trends among my clients. Those with a very successful career often struggle in their relationships. And receiving an Oscar, even being nominated for one, is not just an accolade, it propels the actor into the spotlight and makes them first choice for some of the highest-paid roles. You can see how the actors then spend months on end solely focused on their careers. Unfortunately, that can lead to losing the emotional connection with a partner and once that’s gone, a relationship is inevitably heading for a breakup.

Often, women invest more energy into their relationship than men. They tend to find it easier than men to at least sometimes put their partner first, which helps them find a better work-love balance by adjusting their work routine in a way that allows them to be happy in their career and in their private life. That may well be a reason why actresses are less likely to break up after receiving an Oscar.

Now, here’s my advice to this year’s winners and nominees: thank your partner for being there for you, for helping you reach this milestone and for the sacrifices your partner has almost certainly made along the way. Attribute part of your success to your partner. Make your partner feel that whatever happens, they’re the one that matters to you most. After all, it’s the combination of a happy relationship and a rewarding career that makes for a fulfilling life.

Katgeorie Nominee / Winner Year Name Movie Partner Date of Break-Up
Best Actor (male) Winner 2017 Casey Affleck Manchester by the Sea Summer Phoenix August 2017
Best Actor (male) Winner 2016 Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant Nina Agdal May 2017
Best Supporting Actress (female) Nominee 2016 Rooney Mara Carol Charlie McDowell September 2016
Best Actor (male) Nominee 2015 Bradley Cooper American Sniper Suki Waterhouse March 2015
Best Supporting Actress (female) Nominee 2015 Emma Stone Birdman Andrew Garfield October 2015
Best Actor (male) Nominee 2014 Leonardo DiCaprio The Wolf of Wall Street Toni Garn December 2014
Best Actor (male) Nominee 2014 Chiwetel Ejiofor 12 Years a Slave Sari Mercer September 2015
Best Supporting Actor (male) Nominee 2014 Bradley Cooper American Hustle Suki Waterhouse March 2015
Best Supporting Actor (male) Nominee 2014 Jonah Hill The Wolf of Wall Street Isabelle McNally April 2014
Best Supporting Actress (female) Nominee 2014 Jennifer Lawrence American Hustle Nicholas Hoult August 2014
Best Supporting Actor (male) Nominee 2013 Philip Seymour Hoffman The Master Mimi O’Donnell November 2013
Best Actress (female) Winner 2013 Jennifer Lawrence Silver Linings Playbook Nicholas Hoult August 2014
Best Actor (male) Winner 2012 Jean Dujardin The Artist Alexandra Lamy November 2013
Best Actor (male) Nominee 2012 George Clooney The Descendants Stacy Keibler July 2013
Best Supporting Actor (male) Nominee 2012 Jonah Hill Moneyball Ali Hoffman September 2012
Best Actress (female) Nominee 2012 Michelle Williams My Week with Marilyn Jason Segel February 2013
Best Actor (male) Nominee 2011 James Franco 127 Hours Agyness Deyn August 2011
Best Actor (male) Nominee 2010 George Clooney Up in the Air Elisabetta Canalis June 2011
Best Actor (male) Nominee 2010 Morgan Freeman Invictus Myrna Colley-Lee September 2010
Best Actor (male) Nominee 2010 Jeremy Renner The Hurt Locker Jes Macallan March 2010
Best Actress (female) Winner 2010 Sandra Bullock The Blind Side Jesse James March 2010
Best Actor (male) Winner 2009 Sean Penn Milk Robin Wright August 2010
Best Actor (male) Nominee 2009 Mickey Rourke The Wrestler Courtney Love February 2009
Best Actress (female) Winner 2009 Kate Winslet The Reader Sam Mendes March 2010
Best Supporting Actress (female) Nominee 2009 Taraji P. Henson The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Lamar Odom June 2009
Best Actor (male) Nominee 2008 George Clooney Michael Clayton Sarah Larson May 2008
Best Actor (male) Nominee 2007 Ryan Gosling Half Nelson Rachel McAdams November 2008
Best Supporting Actress (female) Winner 2007 Jennifer Hudson Dreamgirls James Peyton November 2007

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