Can a woman be more successful than her husband/partner in Hollywood?

After the recent allegations that the most recent best actress Oscar winner Sandra Bullock’s husband Jesse James cheated on her. It got me thinking about the previous best actress winners and there relationships especially after Kate Winslet announcing her spilt from husband Sam Mendes earlier this week. Hilary Swank  split from Chad Lowe not too long after she picked up her second best actress statue. So can men really not handle it if there wife is more successful than them or is it all just a coincidence?

The old-fashioned values and usual relationship rules are that the man is classed as the main earner and “looks” after his wife and children. But in Hollywood that is not often the case when a woman can easily be more successful than her husband. So lets venture down the road of successful actresses and have a comparison with relationships she has had, especially before and even after winning the highest accolade of an Oscar.

Sandra Bullock has just recently become a member of the best actress oscar winners club and then two weeks later rumours of her husband’s infidelity are announced. Could it really have something to do with Sandra having a great year and gaining a lot of buzz about her performance in “The Blind Side” and being tipped to win the Oscar? I guess we will never actually know but it could well be that Jesse James did not like being in his wifes shadow?

Kate Winslet won the best actress oscar last year and now a year on has announced she is splitting from her husband of 6 years Sam Mendes. But this one is slightly different I mean he has an Oscar too. Unless he liked that she had been nominated but never actually won? But I guess its still a big who knows. I wonder what would have happened if she had won for Revolutionary Road instead of The Reader what would have happened. As he could then have taken some credit for her win.

Julia Roberts has enjoyed a very successful career and an Oscar winner as well. But her personal life and relationships always seemed to be very much up and down. She seems to have had a lot of break-ups over the years until she met her current husband Danny Moder who is a camera man. Maybe she just needed someone who wasn’t in the spotlight all the time as well. So she could really get away from it all?


Hilary Swank a double Oscar-winning actress who split up with Chad Lowe not long after she won her second Oscar, and it was claimed that her success had something to do with it as he was not able to accept that she was more well-known and successful than he was. Hilary is not a totally mainstream actress despite two oscar wins as she has more gone for smaller projects, although she did attempt to go the rom-com way with P.S. I Love You which did not seem to go very well in her favour, I still enjoyed it though.

While the links to successful actresses and failed relationships/marriages seem to be pretty high, it could be that the relationship was not or had not been working out for such a long time anyway. But it doesn’t seem to work the other way around, if the man is successful and wins an Oscar you don’t see them splitting from their partner/wife. I suppose it must be very difficult in some cases for the actresses to know if someone actually wants to be with them for them or for who they are in the spotlight. Maybe that is why it seems easier for them to date an actor as they know how it all works in Hollywood? But that might just influence how the relationship falls apart if she becomes more successful than he is? Another possibility could be that two actors together are just too similar and it does not work out as well for everyone. A turn over of marriage and divorce between two actors in Hollywood does seem to be pretty high isn’t there something about the 7 year itch? Even more so in the land of actors?

Then theres Meryl Streep who has to be an exception to every single rule. The most nominated actress in Oscar history and has a long marriage with children and still had success as well. So as with acting Meryl shows that you really can have a happy long relationship in Hollywood but is Meryl always an exception to the rules?

So when it comes to Hollywood does a woman have to choose between a successful career or love? Maybe they do and cannot have both at the same time. I don’t see the problem with a woman having it all but Hollywood seems to differ in that sense. The four actresses I have related this all too are actresses which I hold in high regard I like a lot of their films and really enjoy their performances. If they cannot have a successful career and keep love what chances do the rest of us meer mortals have?

But what do you make of it all?

Do you think in Hollywood at least men do not like their partner/wife to become more successful than they are?

13 thoughts on “Can a woman be more successful than her husband/partner in Hollywood?

  1. Very interesting post! I actually believe that men in general (not only in Hollywood) like to be the one who “take care” of the family and have power over their wife, economicaly I mean- no matter how much they try to deny it, I think it’s in their inconscience. So as an answer to your question I’d say yes, men don’t like their women to be more successful; however that doesn’t mean that this is the reason why couples in Hollywood-and the ones you brought up, split for that reason particularly.

    Just when I saw your post, I thought I should comment on the fact that Meryl Streep seems to have a successful marriage, but when I continued reading I saw you didn’t forget lol. God I love her!


    • Meryl Streep is a total expection to like every rule and statement you can make. She is just brilliant, such an example to women showing you really can have it all.

      Yeah I just thought it was an interesting comparison that it could have had some impact on the relationship, but obviously we will never really know what went on behind closed doors with the different couples.


  2. Interesting post Caz. You also forgot about Reese Witherspoon who divorced Ryan Phillippe right after she won her Oscar.

    “I suppose it must be very difficult in some cases for the actresses to know if someone actually wants to be with them for them or for who they are in the spotlight.”

    That’s a problem for men too after all and no doubt a reason why everyone tends to find relationships with their own kind.

    I think the lifestyle of actors just makes difficult for them to have stable relationships. It just comes with the perks of the job.


    • Doh! How could I forget Reese Witherspoon! Another great example which would have fit o so nicely in my little list from the past few years Oscar winners. I had thought about Halle Berry too.

      Yeah a lot of people do go with their own kind I remember at school teachers being married to other teachers.


  3. I think the answer to your post question is YES, but the more important question is, can they be successful and STILL keep their spouses. The last to share a similar fate as these ladies is Oscar winner Charlize Theron who broke up with Stuart Townsend recently after being together for quite a while (at least 5 years?) There are too many factors why some are more successful than others at balancing career + relationship, but for the most part, temptations run rampant in Tinseltown, and most don’t have the fundamental values to rise above them.


    • That is a very good point, can they keep their spouses (and do they even want to would be another, haha). I guess it is such an open ended topic of thought and really has to depend on the couple and everything like that.

      Charlize Theron is another I could have added to the list. If I remember rightly they were engaged? For quite a while as well, but never actually married?


  4. Good post to a pretty relevant topic. I don’t think that men are jealous of their success. But I could be wrong, those guys grew up in a much different generation. Maybe this is just like the Madden curse or whatever.


    • That is a very good point about generations they grew up in. So I guess another talking point from that would be will the younger generation be better or worse? I reckon more divorces at younger ages if they actually get to the wedding stage. Marriage does seem to be dying down quite a lot now and not as popular as it used to be in some places.


  5. who’s chad lowe? or does that confirm that he could never be as famous as a 2 time academy award winning actress?

    i was going to use emma thompson as an example. she won an oscar and is very happily married to a lesser known actor. although then i realised she divorced ken brannagh after the oscar win. damn.


    • That’s kinda the point with Chad Lowe, he must have really hated his life. Especially with his older brother being more well known on the acting front, yeah that’s right Rob Lowe’s younger brother!

      It seems to be quite a curse for most actresses, actors don’t seem to have that problem at all.


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