Celebrities Who Dated Before They Were Famous

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Hollywood has a very small dating pool and there are many big name celebrity couples, but over the years many stars have revealed some celebrity relationships they had long before they were famous. Now, both people in these couplings are well known stars but, at the time of the romance, only one or in some cases neither had hit it big yet. There are some truly surprising couples on this list from odd couples to brief flings and long-lasting romances we never knew about all before the media and spotlight tracked their every move. Here are 17 celebrities you didn’t know dated before they were famous:

17. Reese Witherspoon and Chris O’Donnell

Now, Reese Witherspoon is one of the industry’s biggest actresses and Chris O’Donnell lights up the small screen as one of the stars of NCIS: LA, but before it all, the pair were an item for a short period of time. Back in 1993, shortly after O’Donnell’s big break in School Ties and Scent of a Woman, he dated Reese Witherspoon who was only 16 years old and had just moved to L.A. to pursue acting full time after a couple of promising roles.

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16. Liam Neeson and Helen Mirren

Now, Liam Neeson and Helen Mirren are two of the industry’s most respected actors, but back in the early ’80s, Mirren was building on her fame, and Neeson was still mostly unknown when they both starred in 1981’s Excalibur. Despite being six years older than him, Mirren still fell for Neeson and the pair went on to date for almost five years and even lived together before they called things off. The pair have nothing but respect for each other and Neeson said that Mirren was a major reason he was able to land an agent.

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15. Jamie Dornan and Keira Knightley

The early 2000’s have a lot of forgotten celebrity couples, and one many missed was Keira Knightley and Jamie Dornan. The same year that Hollywood really took notice of Knightley with her role in The Pirates of the Caribbean, she began dating Jamie Dornan, who at the time was an unknown Calvin Klein model. The two dated for nearly two years and split in 2005, one year before Dornan would even get his first acting credit. While the pair barely comment on their long-lost flame, Dornan did say that dating Knightley before he was famous helped prepare him for the attention he would receive when his career took off, especially with Fifty Shades of Grey.

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14. Courteney Cox and Michael Keaton

In the early and mid ’80s, Michael Keaton was making a name for himself in the movie industry and as his fame rose he began dating a then unknown Courteney Cox. Cox was just getting her career started with a recurring role in Family Ties and was still years away from her big break as Monica in Friends when she and Keaton began dating in the late ’80s. The pair were actually together for six years before they split in 1995, a year after Friends premiered. At the time she said it was a mutual decision to split and said, “It’s the most important relationship I’ve ever had, and I think he’s the most wonderful person I’ve ever met.”

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13. Jennifer Grey and Matthew Broderick

1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off not only launched Matthew Broderick’s career but it also was one of the first major roles for Jennifer Grey who was still one year away from her iconic role in Dirty Dancing. Not only did it launch the two stars’ careers, it also began a romance between the two who tried to keep it quiet while filming because they were portraying a brother and sister on-screen. The success of the film thrust them into the spotlight and they were forced to go public after the stars were involved in a serious car accident that killed both people in the car that they collided with. The accident occurred while the pair were vacationing in Ireland and while behind the wheel Broderick crossed into the wrong lane and collided head on with an on-coming vehicle. The pair split shortly after the accident and although Grey was catapulted to huge success shortly afterwards with Dirty Dancing she said she could never enjoy the success because of her grief and survivor’s guilt from the accident.

12. Fergie and Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake has been famous since he was only a teenager, and has had some very high-profile romances, but one slipped under the radar of many. Back in 1996 just as *NSYNC was becoming huge in Europe, Timberlake landed himself an older woman when he dated Fergie who at the time was part of the lesser known pop group Wild Orchid. “He was 16 and I was 23. It was before he got real heavy with Britney [Spears],” Fergie revealed to Australia’s Courier Mail. Now fans are well aware just how big both singers have become after finding huge success as part of a group and even more success in their solo music careers.

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11. Jessica Biel and Chris Evans

Jessica Biel of course found fame thanks to her role as Mary Camden on 7th Heaven, and is now best known for adorable high-profile marriage to Justin Timberlake, but in the early 2000’s she was dating up-and-coming actor Chris Evans. Now, Evans’ name is tied directly to his blockbuster role as Captain America, but in 2004 and 2005 he and Biel starred in two forgotten films: Cellular and London and from for five years between 2001 and 2006 the pair dated on and off!

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10. Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis

It seems Brad Pitt has been at the top of Hollywood’s A-list forever, but there was a time when the handsome actor was a struggling actor like so many others, and although he dated a lot back then one relationship in particular was the most shocking of all. In 1989, still two years away from Pitt’s big break in Thelma & Louise the then 26-year-old began dating his 17-year-old Too Young to Die? costar Juliette Lewis. Despite the age gap the pair actually went on to date for four years before calling it quits in 1993 and both went on to have notable careers. “It amazes me that people are still fascinated that we went out for four years. I was a teenager at the time. It’s a lifetime away. I was in my high-school years and it was a wonderful, loving relationship with a fun, smart guy. Then it was over and he went on to become incredibly famous,” Lewis said of the romance years later.

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9. Busy Philipps and Colin Hanks

In the late ’90s and early 2000’s both Busy Philipps and Colin Hanks’ careers took off when Philipps landed her role in Freaks and Geeks and Colin Hanks landed his role in Roswell High, but long before then the pair were actually a couple for quite some time. “We went to Loyola Marymount University together in Los Angeles, and yeah, he was my college boyfriend. We dated for a long time, actually,” Philipps revealed in early 2017. As for why their young love ended, Philipps said she was a “jerk” and Hanks went on to reveal that the two were together when they both booked their first TV shows and movies within the same week.

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8. Ryan Reynolds and Melissa Joan Hart

Ryan Reynolds has had many famous relationships that have included an engagement to Alanis Morrissette, marriage to Scarlett Johansson and his current marriage to wife Blake Lively and it turns out he dated another famous star, but before anyone knew who he was. In 1996, Melissa Joan Hart was just beginning her run as Sabrina, The Teenage Witch and Reynolds was an up-and-coming actor who had landed the role opposite Hart in the Sabrina, the Teenage Witch TV movie that launched the series. The pair had definite chemistry and Reynolds even bought her a gorgeous Bulova watch, but Hart had a boyfriend and couldn’t get past their age gap. “He was 17 and I was, like, 19. I was like, ‘You’re too young for me.’ I wasn’t sure so I just grabbed him and started kissing him. You get a piece of jewelry like that, you gotta make out with the guy!” She added that she made out with him all night, but then had to call her boyfriend and explain the small tryst. After filming Reynolds even went to New York to visit her. “But I think he wanted something more but I decided I was going to stick with my boyfriend.”

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7. Megan Fox and David Gallagher

It seems the roles have switched for one-time couple Megan Fox and David Gallagher because at the time they dated Gallagher was the star, but as he has faded from the spotlight, Fox’s fame has risen. The duo dated for one year from 2003-2004 when David Gallagher was a well-known TV heartthrob thanks to his long running role as Simon Camden on the beloved family series 7th Heaven. Of course, then Fox was only the pretty girl by Gallagher’s side as she had only had two acting roles, her first being in the 2001 Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen film Holiday in the Sun. Now, of course, Gallagher is rarely seen, but Fox has become quite the star with many starring roles in films and on TV.

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6. Matthew Morrison and Kristen Bell

As aspiring stars, many of Hollywood’s biggest actors and actresses attended the same college or university with no idea how big of a career they were about to embark on, and that includes Matthew Morrison and Kristen Bell. Before Morrison’s Glee fame and before Bell was Veronica Mars in the popular series, the two attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where they dated for a short time. When gushing over how much she loves Glee in a 2010 interview, Bell revealed, “I actually went to college with Matty Morrison. We actually dated very briefly, so I’ll have to say maybe Matt Morrison is my favorite part of Glee for various reasons.”

5. William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman

William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman have now been married for 20 years and have rode the tides of fame together because they were a couple long before the spotlight found them. After focusing on theater at Goddard College, Macy moved to Chicago where and he some friends founded the St. Nicholas Theater Company. Before long none other than Felicity Huffman joined the company as a student and struck up a romance with Macy. The pair went on to date on and off for 15 years before marrying in September 1997, which was one year before her breakout role in Sports Night.


4. Jenna Dewan and Justin Timberlake

For years the rumored Jenna Dewan and Justin Timberlake romance flew under the radar until Lifetime aired its unauthorized TV movie of Britney Spears’ life. The Lifetime movie portrayed a dramatic dance battle that broke out when Spears confronted Timberlake at a club which he was at and getting close with his then back-up dancer Jenna Dewan. Finally after the movie aired Dewan admitted that she and Timberlake did have a romance, but the dance battle never happened. “We dated. Yeah. Not that long. We were like friends — friends! — that dated. I was not a rebound! I was very clear not to be that.” She added that Spears and Timberlake were well over before her brief fling with the singer began. Of course, now Dewan is best known for her lead role in Step Up which led to her adorable real-life marriage to co-star Channing Tatum.

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3. Lisa Kudrow and Conan O’Brien

Aspiring actors and comedians find themselves with similar beginnings to their careers and during those early years many romances were formed. Before Kudrow’s big break in Friends and before Conan was one of the biggest late night hosts with his very own show, the two had a brief romance. The pair met in an improv class and Kudrow was instantly attracted to him. “He was really smart, really funny, and he thought I was funny.” She also revealed that after her first improv class she wasn’t sure if acting really was for her and it was Conan who convinced her to keep going. Although they did date, it was short because as Kudrow explained “we found we were better as friends.”

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2. Kelly Preston and George Clooney

The ’80s were actually a wild time for all the young up and coming stars who are now Hollywood’s A-listers and there were many surprising hookups between them. Back in 1987 one of those young romances was between Kelly Preston and George Clooney before she rose to fame with her many film roles and he landed his infamous ER role. The two were very serious and lived together, and even bought Clooney’s beloved pet pig Max together before splitting up in 1989.

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1. Ashton Kutcher and January Jones

Back in the mid-90s Ashton Kutcher was a former model trying to make it in acting and, coincidentally, so was January Jones. In 1998 just as Kutcher was cast in his breakout role as Michael Kelso on That ’70s Show and long before Jones became well known for her role in Mad Men, the pair struck up a romance. The relationship actually lasted for three years until 2001, and later in 2009 Jones opened about her time with Kutcher, and didn’t have many positive things to say. “He was not supportive of my acting. He was like, ‘I don’t think you’re going to be good at this.’ So, f–k you!” At the time, both were only up-and-comers it is safe to say that everyone is very aware of who they are now.

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Telisa Carter

Telisa Carter

Telisa enjoys learning and writing about all things entertainment in the world of Hollywood. When she isn't catching up on her favorite TV shows, she likes to read, and obsess over all things football.