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The Brangelina Divorce Ripple Effect

How will their post-split lives play out? Here’s our best guess.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Love is dead, long live love. But mostly it’s dead. Today, TMZ reported that Angelina Jolie, the “Angelina” of Brangelina, filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, the “Br” of Brangelina, citing irreconcilable differences. Obviously, a breakup of this magnitude is going to send waves of shock and consequence throughout Hollywood, if not the entire world, for years to come.

What will those waves be? Glad you asked. We took a look inside our crystal ball — and are reprinting, verbatim, what came out. This is Ripple Effect: Brangelina Divorce Edition.

1. Brad Pitt finally has his midlife crisis.

Perhaps more than anyone else among his contemporaries, Brad Pitt has managed to avoid the Movie-Star Midlife Crisis. Since turning 40 in late 2003, he’s had commercial success (Ocean’s Twelve, Mr. and Mrs. Smith), critical success (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The Tree of Life), both (Inglourious Basterds, Moneyball), and The Counselor. I don’t think it takes a psychology degree to theorize that much of this prolonged vitality has come from the fact that Hollywood is a male-dominated industry suffering from a systemic and insidious age-to-gender imbalance.

Sorry, wrong article. I don’t think it takes a psychology degree to theorize that much of this prolonged vitality has come from the fact that Brad Pitt has been spending the last decade-plus trying to impress — and keep up with — Angelina Jolie.

Without the dynamic of Brangelina in his life, Brad Pitt finally succumbs to the Movie-Star Midlife Crisis. He makes a May-December romantic drama — one of those annoyingly high-concept Hollywood meta-movies — with Anna Kendrick (I’m Tryna Fuck Brad Pitt), which flops hard; he makes an in-poor-taste Fight Club sequel (Fight Club 2: In This Economy), which flops harder; and he even makes his ill-advised debut as a writer, with the release of the much-anticipated memoir New Orleans: It’s Good, I Like It, Sometimes I Have a Goatee. Within two years of the Brangelina divorce, Brad Pitt’s career is on the ropes.

2. Angelina Jolie becomes the biggest movie star in the world again.

Angelina Jolie is such a famous figure, as a general-interest celebrity, that it’s easy to forget that she has essentially given up on proper movie-stardom. To find her last big hit (non-Maleficent/Kung Fu Panda division), we have to go all the way back to 2008’s Wanted. Wanted! The last time Angelina Jolie was a movie star, James McAvoy was a heartthrob. And James McAvoy was a heartthrob so long ago. That’s insane. But it’s also ostensibly been by design: Jolie has simply shifted her priorities — directing, writing, producing, activism — and opted out of … I don’t know, Salt 2.

No longer. With Brad Pitt’s dead, hot weight not dragging her down anymore, Angelina Jolie makes “caring about being one of the biggest movie stars in the world” a priority. She succeeds, effortlessly, with an unprecedented string of hits — capped off by being named the first American James Bond in movie history.

3. Brad Pitt descends into a tailspin.

He cancels all upcoming projects and becomes a recluse. It’s rumored things are so bad that not even wearing a long-sleeve T-shirt under a short-sleeve T-shirt makes him happy.

4. Marion Cotillard mysteriously disappears.

OK, this is bad. No one can find Marion Cotillard. Police reports tentatively place her as last having been seen at a cafe in Paris, reading New Orleans: It’s Good, I Like It, Sometimes I Have a Goatee. Prior to her disappearance, Cotillard’s most recent activity on social media is a Facebook post. The cryptic text: “Honestly: What was By the Sea even? I mean, was it camp? Was it a commentary on European cinema by being purposefully dull? Was it a vanity project about vanity projects? Do these people even know how to smile? Ooooh, you use a typewriter, congratulations. Fuck you. Did people actually enjoy that movie? Do they realize that they can just go watch the YouTube “How to Pronounce ‘Ennui,’” for free, whenever they want? I am not carrying Brad Pitt’s illicitly conceived baby.”

5. Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie become best friends.

The two actresses meet in a chance encounter in an LAPD holding cell, while being interrogated (just a formality) in the matter of Marion Cotillard’s disappearance. They immediately bond over how good Smartwater is — “No, I mean, it’s actually the best,” “Wait, are you being serious, because I’m being serious,” “I’m being serious too,” “Like — I know it’s ridiculous to prefer one brand of bottled water to another, but Smartwater is legitimately amazing — am I being crazy?” “No, trust me, you’re not, I know” — and how Brad Pitt’s penis does the thing with the thing, and also the other thing with the other thing, and also how they both, independently, got him to believe that dogs can read.

6. Brad Pitt further descends into a tailspin.

He starts a Twitter account, @BradsMusings, but is otherwise rarely heard from.

7. Angelina Jolie remarries.

The wedding, between Jolie and fellow actor Miles Teller, is said to be an understated affair.

8. At the edge of rock bottom, Brad Pitt discovers the Goop newsletter.

One morning, Brad Pitt gets out of bed and looks at himself in the mirror. For whatever reason, on this particular day, the light catches him just right — and he finally sees what he’s become. And I won’t mince words: It’s very, very bad. He’s become … holy shit …

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

THE MODESTLY DISHEVELED CHARACTER THAT BRAD PITT WILL SMUGLY/IRONICALLY PLAY SOMETIMES TO PARADOXICALLY REINFORCE THE REALITY THAT HE IS, IN FACT, A BEAUTIFUL MOVIE STAR.

This is it: It’s Brad Pitt’s worst nightmare. Because really, truly, out of all of the things to become — the punch line of your own smug irony is the most obscene. He splashes cold water on his face, and gazes deeply into the mirror, and says, “You need help.”

A loud ping goes off. It’s his phone. He has an email. He opens it.

“Welcome to Goop!” it reads.

And there’s not much to add, after that — because if you’ve ever read Goop then you know what happens next. Brad Pitt’s whole life changes. Suddenly he knows all of the healthiest and most delicious recipes. He knows all of the right clothes to wear. He knows all of the most reinvigorating skin regimens to try. He knows the 10 hottest places to go in, like, Dallas. He knows the hotel in Iceland that’s right for him. In short: He knows how to be himself again. To be happy again. To experience life to the fullest again. He knows how to shop, go, be, do, see, make, get. In short: After that email, everything changes. Where once he was wrong, now he is right. He reads Goop. He is saved.

9. Angelina Jolie breaks the record for most Oscars won by a single person in a single night.

She wins nine Oscars, total, for the movie Brangelina — a searing and emotional look at the rise and fall of Hollywood’s Last Great Power Couple, starring Angelina Jolie and Chris Hemsworth. Jolie produces, directs, writes, shoots, edits, costumes, soundtracks, scores, and of course acts in the film. Audiences love it, smashing box-office records. Critics call it a masterpiece, with some even declaring it “as good as TV.”

10. Brad Pitt reconnects with Gwyneth Paltrow via ‘Goop.’

One morning, at breakfast with Jonah Hill, who won’t stop texting him to hang out so he decides that it will be easier to just get breakfast one time, you know, somewhere out of the way, Brad Pitt finds himself doing what he often does when in conversation with people these days: extolling the virtues of Goop. He tells Hill about how it saved him from his post-divorce tailspin; about how it turned his life around; about how he’s truly never been happier. Hearing all of this, Hill hesitantly offers up a suggestion. “Have you … thought about calling her?” Brad Pitt has no idea what he’s talking about. “What do you mean?” He asks. “Call who?” “Gwyneth Paltrow, dude.” “Huh? Why would I call Gwyneth?” “Bro — you know she invented Goop, right.” “Shut the fuck up.” “No, I’m serious, she really did. Look it up.”

Brad Pitt looks it up … and finds out that Jonah Hill is right. Gwyneth Paltrow did, in fact, invent Goop. He’s stunned. “I always thought those were just, like, stock photos of her.” “No, dog — that’s her in Goop, because she owns Goop.” “Wow.”

Brad Pitt calls up Gwyneth Paltrow later that night, and tells her all about his Goop salvation. He thanks her. She thanks him. They talk for hours: about life, and love, and loss, and marriage. They each have a couple of glasses of wine. He asks why it didn’t work out between them; she says she honestly doesn’t know. She asks what happened to Marion Cotillard; he says he honestly doesn’t know. They make plans to get together, later that month, when she’s back in L.A. for the Cotillard trial.

They go on a date.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Sparks fly.

11. Brad Pitt marries Gwyneth Paltrow.

And they live happily ever after.