16 Celebrity Couples Who Were Friends First
These A-list pairs went from hitting it off platonically to falling in love for real.
Your eventual partner can come into your life in so many different ways: At work, on a dating app, through mutual friends, and so on. But sometimes, your perfect match is a person you've already known for years. Friends falling for each other make up some of the most magical love stories ever (It's a popular rom-com plot for a reason!), including those of several of our favorite famous duos. Read on for 16 adorable celebrity couples who were friends before things turned romantic. And to see how other pairs changed over the years, check out 12 Beloved, Long-Term Celebrity Couples, Then and Now.
Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton
Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton were both processing divorces (from Gavin Rossdale and Miranda Lambert, respectively) when their friendship bloomed. They were also coaches on The Voice at the time, and Shelton told Billboard that supporting each other through their breakups is what brought them together.
"That's kind of how our friendship and bond started, that day," he said. "It went from that, to checking in on each other once a week through email—'This s*** happened to me, what happened to you?'—to maybe three times a week, then every day, to 'Hey, here's my phone number if you ever want to text.' Next thing I know, I wake up and she's all I care about, and I'm wondering if she feels the same about me."
For more stars who met at work, here are 15 Onscreen Couples You Totally Forgot Dated in Real Life.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West had been in each other's lives for years before they were a couple. The first time they met was through Brandy Norwood, who Kardashian was working for at the time, and by the time she was getting serious with ex-husband Kris Humphries, West realized his feelings for her were real.
"I got a phone because somebody decided they wanted to marry Kris Humphries," West told Khloe Kardashian on an episode of her short-lived talk show. "I wasn't up to anything, and I looked on the internet and there was Kim Kardija with some extremely tall person. I was like, 'I need to call her or something.'"
Jada Pinkett and Will Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith first met when she auditioned (but didn't get cast) for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. At the time, Will was still married to his first wife, Sheree Zampino. He's since recalled having an epiphany moment, deciding to end his marriage to pursue a romantic relationship with Jada. For more celebrity couple facts sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds
Working on The Green Lantern together, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds became fast friends. In fact, they even went on a double date with other people together before realizing they should just date each other.
"That's what I appreciate about our relationship is that he really is—he's my friend, first and foremost still, you know?" Lively said during a Sirius XM interview, as reported by Elle. "Not just in our history but in everyday life, he is my friend first. And I think that's the secret to happiness."
Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis
Most fans know that Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis' relationship goes all the way back to That '70s Show, when Kutcher was in his twenties and Kunis was still a teenager. They'd go on to date other people for years, with Kutcher even marrying and later divorcing Demi Moore, before the former co-stars developed feelings for each other after catching up at the 2012 Golden Globes.
"Then he just turns around, and it was like literally, if we were in a movie, the music would just start playing and violins would go," Kunis told Howard Stern (via Elle). "I just went [gasps]. Like, I think he for the first time ever took my breath away."
For more couples who are making age differences work, here are 27 Celebrity Couples With Huge Age Gaps.
Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka
Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka were both performing on Broadway when they met. Burtka as dating someone else, so they first began hanging out as friends. Harris admitted to Out that he "didn't think in a million years" that there would be anything romantic between them. Obviously, he was dead wrong.
Kate Middleton and Prince William
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's relationship started when they both attended college at St. Andrews, but royal expert Katie Nicholl told Vanity Fair that they didn't start dating right away. Prince William made Kate Middleton's acquaintance while she was jogging around campus, and they were in each other's friend group for months before he finally made a move. For more on their relationship, check out William and Kate Have Endearing, Embarrassing Nicknames for Each Other.
Samira Wiley and Lauren Morelli
When Orange is the New Black first started filming, writer Lauren Morelli was married to a man and coming to a new understanding about her sexuality. Samira Wiley, who played Poussey on the show, was supportive of that, and told BUST that there was "something deeply intimate" about their conversations on the subject, even just as friends. Through these conversations, they eventually fell in love, and they've been married since 2017.
Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes
Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes first felt sparks when they worked on their song "I Know What You Did Last Summer" together, but the timing wasn't right for a relationship, as Cabello later told Rolling Stone. They stayed friends and bided their time, though she admitted it did become an "awkward thing," and by the time they were recording their next duet, "Señorita," together, they were able to make their romance a reality. For stars who were huge with the kids, check out This Was the Most Popular Teen Idol the Year You Graduated.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z
Beyoncé and Jay-Z have known each other since the '90s. Due to the significant age difference between them—she was 18 and he was 30—they didn't pursue a relationship right away. But being friends first meant that they were more prepared when the time came, as the "Single Ladies" singer told Oprah Winfrey in 2013.
"We were friends first for a year and a half before we went on any dates," she said, via People. "We were on the phone for a year and a half, and that foundation is so important for a relationship. Just to have someone who you just like is so important, and someone [who] is honest."
Jessica Alba and Cash Warren
Jessica Alba was starring in 2005's Fantastic Four when she hit it off with Cash Warren, who was part of the crew. The actor was instantly attracted to him, but they formed their relationship on the basis of friendship, since she was dating someone else. Still, as Alba told Cosmopolitan, that foundation ended up being what really makes their marriage work.
"The romantic stuff comes and goes, but it's like, does that person have your back?" she said. "You have to be a team navigating through wherever life may lead you and I want a friend for that."
Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr
Being that they were two of the biggest teen stars of the '90s, it's no surprise that Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. dated—it's their longevity as a couple that seems to defy the odds. That they've gone the distance makes more sense when you realize that they're another pair who connected platonically first. After meeting on the set of I Know What You Did Last Summer, they were friends for years, and their first date was a total accident.
"20 years ago this week, my friend @realfreddieprinze and I were supposed to have dinner with a mutual friend from out of town. That friend missed her flight, but we decided to still meet and catch up," Gellar wrote on Instagram in January 2020. "Now 20 years together, 17 plus married and two kids, we still go to that restaurant for dinner."
Carey Mulligan and Marcus Mumford
Though they haven't spoken too much about it publicly, Carey Mulligan and Mumford & Sons frontman Marcus Mumford's love story dates all the way back to their childhoods. The two future stars met at a church camp as kids and went on to become penpals for years before growing up, falling in love, and getting married in 2012 after just a few months of dating.
Courtney B. Vance and Angela Bassett
Courtney B. Vance and Angela Bassett came into each other's orbit when they were both attending the Yale School of Drama. They were in other relationships and stayed friends for almost 15 years before their romantic relationship actually began, as Bassett told People.
"Maybe about 14 years later, our paths crossed here in Los Angeles. And I was single, he was single," she said. "And I had such an appreciation for him over those years—of his consistency, how he treated other people, of what a supporter he is, what a connector of people and ideas he is, how passionate he is."
Margot Robbie and Tom Ackerley
Interestingly enough, Margot Robbie and producer Tom Ackerley were actually roommates before they were romantically involved. They decided to live together with friends after hitting it off while filming Suite Française together. They hid their relationship at first so it wouldn't disrupt their living situation, but eventually, word got out, and they've been together ever since.
Al Roker and Deborah Roberts
News personalities Al Roker and Deborah Roberts met when she began working at NBC in 1990, and he took her under his wing. Roberts told People that at the time, she "just thought he was a nice guy," and it wasn't until two years later—and some long-distance email correspondence—that he was finally successful in winning her over.