In love, out of love, always in the public eye
The life and times of Tom and Nicole
(CNN) -- When it comes to Hollywood romance, the betting money says love doesn't last longer than the closing credits.
For 11 years, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman bucked those odds. From the time they met on the set of 1990's "Days of Thunder" -- he played a race-car driver, she played a neurosurgeon -- they were seldom out of the gossip columns. How could they be? Someone who sends his sweetie a $500,000 marble-floored trailer while sheís working on "Billy Bathgate" (1991) is bound to draw attention.
And so it continued. Through the years, their relationship was relentlessly chronicled by a media looking for signs of discord as much as romance.
When they appeared together in Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999), the story of a marriage shaken by talk of infidelity, reports from the set were breathlessly interpreted for signs of the stars' own marital circumstances.
Yet they attempted to create a semblance of a normal family life, adopting two children (Isabella, 8, and Connor, 6) and structuring their film work so as not to disrupt their children's schedules.
But, as it has for so many Hollywood couples, the career strain proved too great. The pair announced Monday that they are separating after 10 years of marriage.
"Citing the difficulties inherent in divergent careers, which constantly keep them apart, they concluded that an amicable separation seems best for both of them at this time," their spokesperson, Pat Kingsley, said.
From one wife to another
At the time Cruise and Kidman met, he had just announced a separation from his then-wife, actress Mimi Rogers. The co-stars were inseparable on their "Days of Thunder" set and well afterwards. Their romance led to a December 1990 marriage.
Like most newlyweds, the two made gooey talk about the other. "We have so much in common that it's almost as if we are the same person," Kidman gushed to People magazine in 1992. "We know what it takes to make each other happy."
But even then, Cruise's career, always more successful than Kidman's, caused strain.
"Little did we know there was this thing out there -- the Mrs. Tom Cruise thing," Kidman said in an Entertainment Weekly interview in the mid-'90s.
"Every little step Nic takes is much bigger news because she's with me," Cruise agreed. "People judge her because of it. ... I guess that's the downside of being married to Tom Cruise."
The two have done their own share of kicking up tabloid dust.
In 1999, Kidman appeared nude on the London and Broadway stages in "The Blue Room," a disquieting exploration of sex and relationships by playwright David Hare. She attracted far more press for her body than for her acting ability, though she earned critical plaudits for her performance.
Indeed, many of the pair's roles in recent years have had sexually questing overtones. There was Cruise's appearance as a misogynist motivational speaker in "Magnolia"; the couple in "Eyes Wide Shut"; and "Heartswap," a 2000 novel about partner-swapping the two optioned as a starring vehicle for Kidman.
The Kubrick filming was a particularly sobering experience to watch, "Eyes" co-star Todd Field said in an interview last year with People. The couple's scenes together "were really profound and uncomfortable," he said. "The notes they were hitting were notes you can't act; there was real stuff there."
The pair's relationship, Cruise has admitted, was "not always perfect."
Cruise and Kidman have also been dogged by rumors that their marriage was a sham. Cruise sued the British newspaper The Express in 1998 after it said as much; they have also sued the Star tabloid and the German magazine Bunte. (Cruise won the Express suit and donated his damages to charity.)
The two also have been lampooned simply because they were Tom and Nicole, as humor periodical The Onion demonstrated in an article titled "Cruise, Kidman Walk Through Lobby":
"A-list Hollywood celebrities Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, considered by many to be the most important humans on the planet, walked through the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel Monday, drawing the attention of dozens of reporters and photographers and thrilling millions of television viewers, 'Access Hollywood' sources reported," the article began.
A future in film
The stars' breakup isn't expected to affect their screen careers or their business relationship.
Kidman is not part of Cruise-Wagner Productions, the production company Cruise created with producer Paula Wagner. In fact, the pair has only appeared in three films together, none a runaway box- office success, and collaborated "The Others." The film, which has yet to be released, stars Kidman, and Cruise was its executive producer.
Cruise remains one of the world's top box-office attractions, having appeared in the hit "Mission: Impossible" series as well as attracting critical praise for his roles in "Eyes Wide Shut" and 2000's "Magnolia."
Kidman, though not having the box-office clout of her now-estranged husband, has earned critical plaudits for recent film roles as well her stage work. Both are currently shooting new movies.
Despite their problems, the two never expected things to end like this. Cruise named his airplane "Sweet Nic," and as recently as two years ago estimated that he and his wife had never been apart for more than 12 days. Kidman was just as optimistic, telling interviewers she had visions of the two of them sharing a porch swing in their 70s.
But the separations always chafed.
"There are hours of discussion in our household about what to do about it," Cruise told People last year. "As long as we're together, that's the most important thing."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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