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Billy Crudup Left Mary-Louise Parker for Claire Danes When She Was 7 Months Pregnant

The love triangle caused a major scandal.

Twenty years ago, another celebrity scandal made its way to the tabloids and entertainment press when Billy Crudup left Mary-Louise Parker, his partner of seven years, for Claire Danes, his co-star in the film Stage Beauty. And while that drama alone would have made headlines, on top of it all, Parker was seven months pregnant with her and Crudup's child when they split. In the two ensuing decades, all three of the stars involved have commented on the love triangle in one way or another. Read on to find out what led to the messy breakup and how Danes, Crudup, and Parker feel about it now.

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Parker and Crudup split in 2003. 

Billy Crudup and Mary-Louise Parker at the 2002 Emmys
Steve Granitz/WireImage via Getty Images

According to a 2004 New York Times profile of Crudup, he and Parker met when they were co-starring in a revival of the Broadway play Bus Stop in 1996. Their relationship evolved from there, and in 2003, Parker was pregnant with their first child.

Meanwhile, the same New York Times profile describes Danes as an "old friend" with whom Crudup "became involved" in 2003 after they filmed Stage Beauty, a 17th century period piece.

Representatives for Parker and Crudup confirmed their split to People in December 2003. "This has been rough for Mary-Louise," a source close to Parker said. "To get pregnant together, and both wanting it, and now for this to happen—it's been very difficult."

A representative for Crudup told People that he and Parker had ended their relationship months earlier. A representative for Danes said that "Claire has been friends with Billy for 10 years" and that she was still dating musician Ben Lee.

Crudup refused to talk about it in interviews.

Billy Crudup and Claire Danes at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival
John Shearer/WireImage via Getty Images

The New York Times reported that, prior to being interviewed, they asked Crudup's publicist if he would answer questions about his breakup with Parker and subsequent relationship with Danes. The actor responded via email that he wanted to "make an argument for not including anything" about it.

"First and foremost it is personal, painful and involves an infant, and does not deserve to be exploited to sate the appetites of circulation counters and bored readers," the email read. "I have never indulged our society's misguided notion that my personal life is relevant to my work, so any reporting surrounding that is necessarily hearsay, speculation or fantasy. Each published report is based only on the trade of suffering."

Parker wrote about it years later.

Billy Crudup and Mary-Louise Parker at the 2002 Tony Awards
Scott Gries/Getty Images

In 2015, Parker's memoir, Dear Mr. You, in which she wrote letters to various men she'd known or come into contact with during her life, was released. The Weeds star did not address Crudup directly in a letter but did reference him in one that was written to a drive whose cab she was in while she was pregnant.

As reported by Jezebel, Parker got upset and yelled at the driver when he got lost taking her to an appointment, and he kicked her out of the car. She says she told him, "I am alone. Look, see? I am pregnant and alone. It hurts to even breathe … I'm trying to get through it but I'm by myself every night and every morning and no one, nothing helps. I'm sorry I yelled. I can't get my shoes on anymore. Please, I know I am awful, it's been made clear but look at me please." She added in the book, "I realize now that whatever I was walking through was part of my life, one piece of a bigger story that is mostly beautiful."

Danes also shared her side of the story.

Billy Crudup and Claire Danes at an event in New York City in 2006
Chance Yeh /Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Danes and Crudup went on to date for four years before breaking up in 2007. In 2015, she addressed the scandal during an interview with Howard Stern. As reported by Us Weekly, the host asked the Homeland star what it was like dealing with the public response to the way her relationship with Crudup began.

"That was a scary thing," she said. "That was really hard. I didn't know how to not do that." She said of their relationship, "I was just in love with him. And needed to explore that and I was 24… I didn't quite know what those consequences would be." The Homeland star added, "But it's OK. I went through it."

Of where they stood years later, she said, "We're friendly, we're friends."

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Everyone moved on.

Caroline Aberash Parker, Mary-Louise Parker, and William Atticus Parker at the 2021 Tony Awards
Arturo Holmes/Getty Image

All three actors moved on to new relationships over the years. Danes has been married to Hugh Dancy since 2009, and when Crudup wed Naomi Watts in 2023, Parker showed her support. "I honestly of course wish them every happiness because that's my son's father," she told The Guardian. "So I'm happy for them. I'm happy they found each other."

Parker and Crudup co-parented their 19-year-old son, William Atticus Parker, including coming together for events and other activities. The Daily Mail reported that Crudup and William attended an awards ceremony together in support of Parker, and during a 2019 interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Crudup said that he and Parker had co-starred in one of their son's student films. Parker also welcomed another child into her life, her daughter Caroline Aberash Parker.

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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