Skip to content

Bradley Cooper & Renée Zellweger Split Because She "Took a Backseat" to His Career

The co-stars quietly dated for a couple of years before going their separate ways.

It's no secret that Bradley Cooper is an ambitious filmmaker. The actor—who first gained popularity as an actor in raunchy comedies including Wedding Crashers and The Hangover, as well as on TV's Alias—has redefined himself as the director behind Oscar-nominated films A Star Is Born and Maestro. And according to some reports, Cooper's professional priorities led to the demise of one of his romantic relationships. Sources have claimed that the star's romance with Renée Zellweger, who he quietly dated for two years a little more than a decade ago, ended because she "took a backseat to his career." Read on to learn how the pair met and more about why they parted.

RELATED: Nicole Kidman Says Lenny Kravitz Split Happened Because They "Weren't Ready" to be Engaged.

Cooper and Zellweger met filming a movie in 2006.

Cooper, now 49, and Zellweger, now 54, met in 2006 when they were filming the movie Case 39. The supernatural horror flick stars Zellweger as a social worker and Cooper as her best friend and follows them as they attempt to help a seemingly abused girl who has much more to her story than they first assume. Unfortunately, the film had a troubled rollout. Originally scheduled to premiere in 2008, Case 39's American release was delayed twice, and when it finally came out in 2010, it received largely negative reviews.

The co-stars didn't start dating on the set of the film, however. They reportedly began a relationship in 2009, possibly when doing press for Case 39.

RELATED: Mila Kunis Says "Horrible, Horrible Breakup" With Macaulay Culkin Was Her Fault.

They kept their romance very private.

Bradley Cooper in 2010
Jaguar PS/Shutterstock

Exactly when Cooper and Zellweger started dating is unknown, as the pair never publicly confirmed or commented on their relationship status. What is known is that, starting in 2009, they were spotted in public together quite a lot. In January 2010, People reported that Zellweger was checking out Cooper's newly purchased Los Angeles home, which she loved and planned on staying at whenever she was in LA, according to a source. Reports that the two of them were getting serious were so prevalent that representatives for the pair had to confirm to the magazine that they were not engaged in June of that year.

The two remained close going into 2011. Sources even claimed that Zellweger skipped the 2011 Golden Globes to be with Cooper following the death of his father, Charles Cooper, that January.

Amid all of this, neither actor opened up about their supposed relationship in the press. However, Cooper did tell Entertainment Tonight during the 2010 press junket for Case 39 just how much he admired Zellweger.

"I can't say enough about her. I never met her before this, but I just love her," the actor said. "I love coming to work. I love acting with her. I can learn so much from her."

They quietly broke up two years later.

Renée Zellweger and Bradley Cooper at the Oscars in 2020
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

By March 2011, Cooper and Zellweger had evidently broken up. A source reportedly close to Zellweger told Us Weekly that Cooper's Hollywood ambitions were to blame.

"If I had to pick any possible mistress it would be Brad's career," they said. "He worked really hard to get into leading man status."

Zellweger, who had achieved leading status long before her ex, reportedly took "a backseat" to his work.

"She's accomplished a lot of her professional goals," the source told the magazine. "So Renée took some time out to be a great girlfriend and see if this is what it took to make a relationship work." They added, "She stopped fighting. It was just not working out."

However, a since-deleted post from the gossip site Pop Eater claimed that the cause of the breakup was something else. A source told the outlet (as reported by Glamour), that Zellweger wanted to settle down and have kids, but Cooper wasn't ready.

One source said that the Chicago star was "starting to think about children and settling down while Bradley loves his life exactly as it is. It's taken him a long time to be an A-list actor, and he's enjoying all the perks, fame, and opportunities that have come his way."

Whatever the cause of their split, the exes seemed to be on friendly terms when they ran into each other at the 2020 Academy Awards (pictured above).

RELATED: Why Anjelica Huston Stopped Putting Up With Jack Nicholson's Cheating.

They both moved on.

Ant Anstead and Renée Zellweger walk their dog in 2024
MEGA/GC Images

After splitting from Zellweger, Cooper went on to date several famous women. His next relationship was with future Guardians of the Galaxy co-star Zoe Saldaña, followed by a romance with Suki Waterhouse. While he and model Irina Shayk never married, they were together for four years and welcomed a daughter. He's now reportedly getting serious with Gigi Hadid, though neither of them have confirmed the relationship yet.

Zellweger, for her part, has been dating British TV presenter and Wheeler Dealers host Ant Anstead since 2021.

Both Cooper and Zellweger have also had tremendous success in their careers since calling it quits. She won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2020 for her performance as Judy Garland in the biopic Judy. He's been nominated for five acting Oscars so far for his performances in Silver Linings PlaybookAmerican HustleAmerican SniperA Star Is Born, and Maestro. Cooper has also been up for Best Picture as a producer and written two Academy-nominated screenplays.

James Grebey
James has been an entertainment journalist for more than a decade, writing and editing for outlets like Vulture, Inverse, Polygon, TIME, The Daily Beast, SPIN Magazine, Fatherly, and more. Read more
Filed Under