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Co-stars who had romantic tension and it showed on camera

There's nothing like a romance to get an audience involved in a story. The flirtation, the climax, the catastrophe, the fallout — on the big and small screen alike, it's thematic dynamite. But like any explosive, it needs to be handled carefully. In the right hands, it can unfurl across the screen in a bright and beautiful tale of souls coming together to form something greater than the sum of its parts. At its worst, it fizzles like a firecracker in the rain.

Sometimes, however, what works about a romance goes beyond the story on-screen. Sometimes, the actors themselves develop a chemistry that cannot be denied … and may or may not continue on after filming has wrapped. This is lightning in a bottle, the sort of magic that can't really be mimicked, that directors and audiences live for. From Oscar-winning actors to TV show stars, here are the times that co-stars had some serious romantic tension on set, and it majorly showed on camera. 

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie made Mr. and Mrs. Smith super steamy with their romantic tension

Despite their recent split, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, internationally known as "Brangelina," ruled the tabloids for years. They were Hollywood's most famous couple, a pairing of superstars the world couldn't get enough of. The duo's rumored extramarital origins — as no tabloid will ever forget, Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston when the two first joined forces on-screen — gave the couple even more notoriety. All of it ended up encapsulated in the movie they were making over the course of this tumultuous courtship: the sexy, goofy, and endearing Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

The titular Smiths are a bored married couple who feel trapped in the stultifying routines of their life. Little do they know, they're both assassins … and they've been hired by their respective agencies to kill each other. Naturally, hijinks ensue, and the couple ends up happier and more connected than ever. Pitt and Jolie's fiery connection ignites the movie and keeps it going through some patches of rough writing and pacing. One imagines that their affair couldn't have been much of a secret on set even before they revealed it, so obvious is their romantic tension. Though Brangelina might now belong to the dustbin of Hollywood history, Mr. and Mrs. Smith will live on, capturing their connection for all time — every charged, flirty moment of it.

The romantic tension between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton was captivating in Cleopatra

There's a reason why Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's union is often referred to as "the marriage of the century." Liz and Dick, as they were known, embarked upon a scandalous extramarital affair, married, divorced, married again, and finally, divorced. They starred in 11 films together, but nothing encapsulates their storm and fury better than the movie that brought them together: Cleopatra. A box office smash that, regardless, took years to recoup enormous production costs, Cleopatra debuted to an absolute tsunami of public intrigue. After all, it was Taylor as Cleopatra and Burton as Marc Antony. They were lovers on and off the screen, brought together by the splendor of Egypt and Hollywood alike.

Though, ultimately, they weren't able to work out their many differences, the gravity between the two warps all of Cleopatra around it. The movie comes alive when they're in frame together, and the relationship between them is the only thing that can dwarf the opulent sets and costumes. But really, who else was truly capable of portraying the historical lovers? At the time, no one else was comparable in terms of charisma and chemistry. For a while, these co-stars were as culturally significant as Cleopatra and Marc Antony themselves. But it's no wonder as to why — one need only revisit Cleopatra to discover the magic and tension that blazed into life when the two were together on camera.

Vincent Kartheiser and Alexis Bledel were mad about each other in Mad Men

Vincent Kartheiser's portrayal of Pete Campbell was as polarizing as it is perfect. Campbell is a slimy, moral-bending eel of a man, a princeling who took success as his due for being born into a wealthy family. His wife and daughter never really seemed like more than tokens of the perfect life he'd always been groomed to have. He took them for granted and never really cared about them. Vincent was a man adrift, casting about for something to heal or obscure the void in his soul.

Then Beth Dawes, played by Alexis Bledel, wandered into his life. A housewife struggling with mental illness, her dalliance with Pete wavered somewhere between fling-hood and a serious romance. Pete's yearning for her, and the exit ramp from his life she represented, was a potent storyline that infused the generally irritating Pete with real pathos. It's no surprise, then, that Kartheiser and Bledel continued to pursue that very real romantic tension between them when they weren't in front of the cameras. In fact, today, they're married with a son. Beth might have drifted out of Pete's life as inexorably as she entered it, but Kartheiser and Bledel made sure they'll never be without each other again.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith were legends in love in Ali

The Smiths' marriage has remained stable for so long now that they qualify as something of a Hollywood miracle. They are, somehow, two beautiful people who are internationally famous, legendarily glamorous, and notably charismatic — and they've managed to celebrate two decades of marriage. How have they accomplished this when so many have failed? They're a private pair, so we'll likely never have a definitive answer. What we do have, however, are movies.

Most notable among the two's filmography is Ali, the biopic in which Will Smith stars as the titular boxer and Jada Pinkett Smith plays love interest Sonji Roi. The couple/co-stars had already been married for a few years when Ali debuted, but all their romantic tension leaps off the screen like they're on the best date of their lives. Considering the movie doesn't end with Sonji and Ali together and, in fact, highlights a fair bit of conflict between the two, that's especially impressive. But while Soji and Ali might have split in the real world, the Smiths keep going strong.

Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy were a real-life couple in Bridesmaids

From Kristen Wiig's emotionally volatile protagonist to Ellie Kemper's prim princess, there aren't really any weak characters in Bridesmaids. Everybody on the screen is worthy of their own movie. But Melissa McCarthy, as the blunt and constantly optimistic Megan, comes darn close to stealing the show at multiple points. Most notably, she makes her seduction of an air marshal into a triumphant moment of self-confidence — and bags the guy in the bargain. Despite the awkwardness of their surroundings, despite his repeated insistence of being merely another passenger, and despite her own brand of brutal honesty, Megan and the marshal make it work, and they even get a mid-credit scene together.

Part of what makes the pair work can be chalked up to McCarthy's skill as an actress. But it turns out that another part of the puzzle was actual intimacy: McCarthy and Ben Falcone, the actor who played Air Marshal Jon, have been married since 2005. The warmth between the two shines through their scenes together, even when they're at odds. There's an ember that can't be quenched by anything, from wedding plans to emergency landings. Take it from McCarthy's Megan and never stop believing in your own charisma. It might just land you an on-and-off-screen romance.

Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins had more romantic tension on camera than we could handle in Bull Durham

In the 1988 baseball rom-com Bull Durham, Susan Sarandon's Annie Savoy does not, ultimately, end up with Tim Robbins' rookie pitcher "Nuke" LaLoosh. Instead, she closes out the film in the arms of Kevin Costner's "Crash" Davis. It's meant to be a sign of her growth, that she develops the courage to give her heart to a truly mature man over the flightier "boys" she'd previously devoted herself to. And in truth, Sarandon does have a sizzling connection with Costner's Crash, an aging catcher brought in to train up the new kid. She is, after all, a world class actress.

Yet something blooms into life between her and LaLoosh, an enormously talented player without much going on upstairs. One thing led to another in real life, and Sarandon and Robbins became a couple that endured for roughly 20 years. Yes, it's still satisfying to see Sarandon's Savoy put aside childish things for the sake of an adult connection, but oh, how the Sarandon and Robbins lit up the silver screen together. Many years after the movie's debut (and the couple's demise), there's still something magical about watching the two co-stars together, borne on the winds of the minor league baseball season.

There's some major romantic tension going on with Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively in Green Lantern

In the age of the omnipresent superhero, fans no longer have to settle for a mediocre movie. After all, they can pick from inventive animated flicks, heartfelt high school stories, and slam-bang beat-'em-ups on the cosmic scale. So no, Green Lantern hasn't held up. No one loved it at its debut, and no one loves it now, as it's been slowly eclipsed by other, better takes on space-faring super-types. Yet one aspect of it still surprises: the tender romance between Ryan Reynolds' Hal Jordan and Blake Lively's Carol Ferris. Childhood sweethearts brought together again by crisis, something simply works about cocky Hal and level-headed Carol.

It's not surprising, then, to learn these co-stars had some major romantic tension between them off-screen as well. In fact, after dating for a few of years, the pair got married, and they're now expecting their third child. If there's one thing to praise Green Lantern for — and truthfully, there isn't much — it's the tender portrayal of a classic comics romance and the creation of a real-world one.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield weren't acting in The Amazing Spider-Man

Sandwiched between the soaring excitement of the Tobey Maguire-helmed Spider-Man trilogy and the thrilling new dawn of Tom Holland's take on the web-slinger, Andrew Garfield's crack at Spidey has grown somewhat obscure. What remains clear about the pair of Amazing Spider-Man films, however, is the heartbreaking warmth and on-screen tension between Garfield's Peter Parker and Emma Stone's charming, doomed Gwen Stacy. The lesser parts of these movies fell away when these two co-stars took up the screen, lost in a world of young love and all its possibilities. Throughout the first movie and most of the second, Garfield and Stone even managed to make the audience forget, for a time, that Stacy's iconic death was drawing ever closer. Nothing could touch them, surely, in their secure cocoon of love … until, of course, something did.

Partially, this is because Stone and Garfield are talented actors. But it's also because the pair had an instant and obvious connection that they ended up pursuing off-screen. Though they managed to keep it fairly private by Hollywood standards, Stone and Garfield dated for roughly five years, and though they're no longer together, these two co-stars reportedly still share an immense amount of respect and affection for each other. And thankfully, no one got thrown from a bridge.

There was some definite on-camera tension between John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer in The Office

In the age of endless streaming, The Office has become a modern institution. Who among us hasn't come home from a long day, ordered a pizza, and put on a favorite episode or two? Who hasn't quoted "bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica" at least once to an in-the-know friend? And who on earth didn't watch Jim confess his love to Pam in season two finale "Casino Night" while sitting on the edge of their seat, white-knuckling the cushions as Pam searched, blindly, for an answer to his heart-wrenching truth?

Jim and Pam's romance has become as iconic as the show it took place in, and John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer have acknowledged the connection that propelled them to such generation-defining heights. "John and I have real chemistry," Fischer remarked in 2016, "there's like a real part of me that is Pam and a real part of him that's Jim. And those parts of us were genuinely in love with one another." From convincing Dwight he had been invited to an ice cream social for CIA agents to rearing two children together in the midst of a career change, the intimate tension between the two co-stars was clear. Here's to many years more of binge-watching Jim and Pam fall in love.

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio have a special kind of tension in Titanic

There's no word to describe Titanic's effect on pop culture besides, well, titanic. Even two decades after its premiere, it's still an icon of romance, tragedy, and incredible historical storytelling. Even those who haven't seen it know what it means to stand on the edge of something and yell, "I'm king of the world!" As a culture, we have two people to thank for this monument to undying love: Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. Funnily enough, however, whenever these two talk about the movie, they spend most of their time thanking each other.

Winslet calls DiCaprio "[her] closest friend in the world," and DiCaprio calls Winslet his "favorite actress in the industry." He gave her a ring with an inscription no one knows, and she wears it right beside her wedding ring. Though romantic rumors have swirled around the two for years, Winslet and DiCaprio's relationship seems instead to be an incredibly deep friendship. Despite this dearth of sizzle, what lies between the two lights up the screen with tenderness and passion. They might not love each other the way Jack and Rose did, but it's a real love nonetheless.

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone lit up the screen in La La Land

La La Land took the cinematic world by storm in 2016 when it barged into theaters in a cloud of musical numbers and warm-hearted optimism. At the center of this cinematic spectacle were Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, playing a jazz musician and an aspiring actress entangled in a romance as luminous as it is brief. The film is an ode to classic Hollywood, a tribute to the creative spirit, and above all, a celebration of love.

There are a lot of successful layers to La La Land, from the cunning choreography to the vibrant costume design. But Stone and Gosling's scenes together are the heart of it all, the heat that keeps the movie burning like the torch of old Hollywood it is. Despite the fact these co-stars have never been linked romantically, they're open about what flares to life between them, and how it's rendered even more apparent on camera. "It's very light and easy between us, and I think that has been the special thing," Stone remarked in 2016, when asked about Gosling, "I have known him now almost seven years, and he is just a fun person to be around, and we have an easy time together." La La Land marked their third movie together, and if quotes like this are any indication, there will be many more to come.