Tinseltown tongues are wagging over rumors that another man may have come in between A-list couple Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. Pitt's competition wasn't an actor or Hollywood hottie, say insiders, but the most powerful man in the free world: President George W. Bush.
Aniston's embrace of conservative issues said to cause tension
By Russell D'Arby, Arts and Entertainment Correspondent
HOLLYWOOD, CA—Tinseltown tongues are wagging over rumors that another man may have caused the split-up of A-list couple Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. Pitt's competition wasn't an actor or celeb hottie, say insiders, but President George W. Bush.
Tabloid and glossy mags had been warning of trouble in paradise for months, pointing to Pitt's much publicized desire to start a family and the take-off of former 'Friend' Aniston's silver-screen career. But celeb watchers may have missed a more fundamental division plaguing the couple, say friends of Brad and Jen: their politics.
The couple released a joint statement on Friday announcing that they were separating after nearly five years of marriage.
Aniston: more conservative than you thought
Tension between the two began to escalate, say friends, during the recent presidential campaign when Pitt publicly endorsed democratic contender John Kerry, going so far as to hang a Kerry campaign poster outside of the couple's Hollywood dream home, a gesture that rubbed his glamorous wife the wrong way. "Jen thought that was really disrespectful to the president," a source said. "She made that clear to Brad and it became a really tense situation."
But no amount of behind-the-scenes sweet talking could dissuade Pitt from campaigning for Kerry; the star of Troy and Ocean's Twelve even attended a screening of the Kerry bio-pic "Going Up River: The Long War of John Kerry" at his alma mater, the University of Missouri.
No love for Jen on left coast
Aniston was noticeably missing from her hubby's arm at the many democratic love-fests Pitt attended this fall. And while the blonde beauty's publicists laid the blame for her absence on Jen's red-hot movie career—she currently has half a dozen films in the pipeline—sources say it was her lack of enthusiasm for candidate Kerry that kept her off the elite Hollywood party circuit. "Jen is extremely loyal and patriotic," said a source close to the actress. "The way Kerry behaved when he returned from Vietnam really sickened her."
Pitt, 41, and Aniston, 35, began dating in the spring of 1998 and quickly emerged as one of the most watched celebrity couples in Hollywood. They tied the knot in 2000, joined by 200 of their friends as they said "I do" in an extravagant ceremony in Malibu.
But the couple's wedded bliss hit a serious speed bump when hijackers flew commercial airliners into the World Trade Center on September 11. "Brad wasn't sure that we should have gone into Afghanistan," said a source. "Jen strongly disagreed. She thought the situation demanded a strong military response, not a police action like Brad wanted."
Battle of the Hollywood stars
Sources say that the couple's problems only escalated during the buildup to the Iraq war. As Pitt joined close friend George Clooney and other members of the liberal Hollywood elite in opposing the war, Aniston confided her unhappiness in a few close friends. But their rocky relationship further unraveled during the presidential campaign. Not long after President George W. Bush's decisive re-election, Aniston removed her wedding ring.
Celebs feel pressure to conform
The couple's announcement that they are splitting up made no mention of their political differences. Sources close to Aniston say that the actress plans to keep her conservative leanings to herself lest they jeopardize her film career in the notoriously liberal bastion that is Hollywood. "Jen saw all of the heat that Mel took after 'Passion' came out," a source said. "I think that helped her decide to keep her politics private."
For now, Pitt and Aniston are asking the public to respect their privacy as they embark on a sensitive and difficult period. Pitt is reportedly considering sitting down with Barbara Walters this spring. Actress Aniston is said to be planning an interview with conservative talk show host Sean Hannity.