IN their heyday, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were Hollywood’s golden couple – married in a luxurious £800k Malibu wedding, living in a swanky Beverly Hills mansion, with Jen alone earning hundreds of thousands per Friends episode.
So it’s perhaps unsurprising eyebrows were raised earlier this week, when The Only Way Is Essex reality star Lauren Goodger compared her ill-fated romance with ex Mark Wright to the American A-listers’ relationship.
The reality star, 33, claimed just like the American golden couple, “people will always be interested” in her and Mark, telling Closer Magazine: “It’s annoying getting dragged into my ex’s life, but I understand it’s a massive part of where we started…
“It’s like other people in the public eye, like Brad and Jennifer. I get it, but it goes over my head now.”
But just how much do the two couples have in common.
The first date
Brad and Jen: The genetically-blessed duo knew they were meant to be right from their very first date back in 1998, after they were set up by their managers.
They soon became Hollywood’s golden couple, making their red carpet debut the following year at the Emmys.
Recalling their first date, Jen said in a rare interview with Diane Sawyer: “It was weird…That was a really easy evening. It was really fun.”
Lauren and Mark: Similarly, Lauren and Mark were also pretty sure their relationship would go the distance, after meeting aged just 15.
In fact, Lauren was so sure, she got Mark’s name tattooed just above her crotch – an inking which was shown in episode one of Towie when she was getting a spray tan.
Bizarrely, Jennifer Aniston actually also reportedly has a male name tattooed on her – but it’s not Brad. Instead, it’s in homage to her late dog, Norman, and it’s on her foot.
Similarly to Brad and Jen but on the other side of the Atlantic, Lauren and Mark also regularly strutted their stuff on the red carpet, attending all the biggest UK TV awards ceremonies together, and Towie wrap parties.
Brad and Jen: Despite keeping their whirlwind relationship immensely private, Brad and Jen gave their fans what they wanted, and announced their engagement in 2000 in true glitzy celeb style – with Jen on stage at a Sting concert flashing a £400,000 diamond and platinum engagement ring.
Lauren and Mark: Meanwhile, Mark popped the question with a diamond dazzler outside infamous Essex night spot The Sugar Hut in 2011, with the special moment shared with fans too – screened on the reality show.
Lauren had just been shown having her ‘Mark’ tattoo removed before he asked her to be his wife – and despite clearly being quite adamant she wanted to literally erase him from her life just hours before, she still said yes.
While viewers were quick to brand their relationship as a ‘faux-mance’ at the time, Mark insisted it was real.
He said: “I proposed on camera because I had to. The thing is, our show’s real life. Everything’s on camera. That’s the point. It’s in the contract.”
Brad and Jen: In true Hollywood style, Brad and Jen went on in 2000 to have a private £800,000 Malibu wedding fit for royalty, complete with 200 guests, 50,000 flowers, four bands, a gospel choir at an exclusive five acre cliff top estate.
The couple opted to keep the day private, but tastefully released a single black and white shot from the day, giving fans a glimpse of Jennifer’s £32,000 beaded satin gown by designer Lawrence Steele.
Lauren and Mark: Sadly, Lauren and Mark didn’t make it to their big day, but their engagement party – which was of course filmed for Towie – was a taster of the type of bash they favoured.
Lauren wore a one shoulder sequinned bridal-style gown from America, which she later put up for sale on Depop for £800.
Mark arrived at the four star Essex hotel on horseback, and Lauren followed behind in a Rolls Royce.
In an emotional speech, Mark declared to their gathered family and friends: “I want you to support us all the way to the wedding… if we make it.”
He then wept as he uttered the the immortal, romantic words: “I might have been to Miami and been with a top model out there, but let me tell ya, still when I wake up in the morning it doesn’t feel as good at what it does with this girl. This is the girl I love.”
The pair also looked at wedding dresses together on the show, with Mark commenting: “If you don’t stop eating, your laces won’t even do up at the back.”
Home sweet home
Brad and Jen: The couple’s former LA home hit the market with a whopping £36million price tag earlier this year, giving fans an insight into their luxurious newly-wed home that they shared before their split.
The couple bought the mansion for $13m in 2001, and spent three years renovating it, so that it boasted a private screening room, pool, four beds and its own pub.
Located in exclusive neighbourhood Beverly Hills, the area boasts iconic designer shopping street Rodeo Drive, and has some of Jennifer’s favourite restaurants – including the Palm and the Ivy – nearby.
Lauren and Mark: Meanwhile Lauren and Mark also lived together, in Essex, and Lauren is also known for her love of the finer things in life.
Brentwood became famous following the rise of Towie, and boasts night hot spot The Sugar Hut and several cast members including salon boss Lauren have owned businesses on the high street over the years.
She often proudly shows off her pad on Instagram, and is pictured going about her daily life in the area.
Brad and Jen: There’s no denying both relationships came to a dramatic end, with unfortunate cheating rumours blighting both romances.
There was unfounded speculation around when Brad and his second wife Angelina Jolie became an item, with Angelina admitting she fell for the heartthrob while he was still with Jen, when they met on the set of blockbuster Mr and Mrs Smith.
However they have always insisted nothing happened until after their separation, and Brad and Jen ensured their split was carefully managed.
The pair released a joint statement in 2005, saying: “We would like to announce that after seven years together we have decided to formally separate.
“… We happily remain committed and caring friends with great love and admiration for one another. We ask in advance for your kindness and sensitivity in the coming months.”
In later interviews, Jennifer would admit feeling hurt, but for the most part played down her heartache.
In 2008, once the dust had settled, she told Vogue: “There was stuff printed there that was definitely from a time when I was unaware that it was happening,” she says. “I felt those details were a little inappropriate to discuss. That stuff about how she couldn’t wait to get to work every day? That was really uncool.”
Lauren and Mark: However, while Jen and Brad were able to keep things at least publicly civil, Lauren and Mark’s split was a little less low-key.
At the time, pretty much every argument they had would be played out on TV, and at one point Lauren even pushed Mark into a pool.
They eventually split for good amid rumours Lauren had cheated – claims she denied.
Reconciliation rumours and VERY public spats
Brad and Jen: Thankfully, despite Jen admitting she was hurt in the past, the former couple have managed to maintain an air of dignity, and delighted fans recently when they put on an amorous display at the SAG Awards earlier this year – prompting a wave of reconciliation rumours.
Last year Brad also sneaked into Jen’s 50th birthday party, held at West Hollywood’s Sunset Tower, staying there all evening to celebrate with his ex, proving they’ve well and truly moved on.
Lauren and Mark: However, the same can’t be said for Mark and Lauren unfortunately, who’ve had some very public fallings-out over the nine years since they split.
A couple of years after the end of their relationship while publicising her tell-all book, Secrets of an Essex Girl, Lauren said: “I made myself a doormat and he wiped his feet on me every single day.”
In 2015 Mark went on a Twitter rant, and branded Lauren “embarrassing” for speaking about him and his wife, Michelle Keegan.
He has also claimed over the years Lauren uses his name to make money, while Lauren claims she only speaks about Mark to defend herself.
In 2017 she also claimed Mark was still dating her at the same time as now-wife Michelle Keegan, a claim which Mark vehemently denied.
If their recent meet-ups are anything to go by, it seems like Brad and Jen have been able to bury the hatchet and move on from their 2005 split.
Hopefully Lauren and Mark will be able to follow suit – and 15 years after splitting maybe they’ll be on civil, speaking terms again.