It was "an experience."
Here at InStyle, we love love. And while the hopeless romantic in us continues to root for love everlasting, the truth of the matter is that not all love stories stand the test of time; in fact, some are but mere moments in it. Case in point: celebrity couples.
Perhaps one of our favorite A-lister pairings was none other than Oscar-nominated actor, producer, and director Bradley Cooper, 47, and SAG Award-winning actress and entrepreneur Jennifer Esposito, 49. These starry-eyed lovers pulled at our heartstrings when they stepped out as an item back in the mid-aughts. However, as destiny would have it, their Hollywood romance didn't end in happily ever after. Still, was it good while it lasted?
Keep scrolling for the complete relationship timeline of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Esposito.
How They Met
Since neither actor has shed much light on their time together, we don't have a firm idea of how they met. That said, they were both fairly ubiquitous TV and film actors in the early to mid-2000s, so the crossover potential is endless … Audition? Network party? We may never know.
In October 2006, the actors' reps confirmed their engagement without providing any additional details. Cooper and Esposito quietly wed that December, reportedly in the South of France.
Why We Loved Them
In the current age of red carpet tongue-touching and dual-pooping confessionals, it's refreshing to hear about a couple who kept their private lives private.
So private, in fact, that they weren't willing to even confirm their relationship. After sharing a kiss at InStyle and Warner Bros.' Golden Globes party in early 2006, Esposito declined to go media-official, telling People, "I'm not answering that" when asked if they were dating.
When They Peaked
We don't know why Cooper is holding his passport in this photo, but we love it. They were cute — if nothing else.
Just four months after they wed, People reported that Cooper and Esposito had split, citing irreconcilable differences. "Jennifer Esposito has filed for divorce," the actress's rep told the outlet. "She asks that you respect her privacy at this time." Cooper's rep called the breakup "mutual," noting that the actors had "been separated for quite a while."
According to divorce papers, Cooper and Esposito had been separated since April 5, 2007. "It is what it should be," Esposito told People that August. "You have to move on. That's what life is about; taking a situation, making the best of it, and moving on." Cooper (sort of) opened up about the divorce in 2011, telling Howard Stern that "it was just something that happened." "The good thing is, we both realized it … Sometimes you just realize it," he went on, adding that the relationship "just wasn't right." He concluded with a statement that epitomizes both everything and nothing: "It's interesting … things happen!" Somehow managing to say even less, he described the marriage to Details as "an experience."
Later that year, he broached the topic himself when Elle asked about the most romantic thing he'd ever done. "Well, I got married," he said, declining to speak about the marriage in detail. "I have no problem talking about [that]," he explained, "but I have to respect the counterpart ... I don't regret it." When asked if he and Esposito were still friends, Cooper said, "Unfortunately not. Maybe someday."
Here's where things get interesting …
In 2014, Esposito wrote a book about her harrowing experience with undiagnosed celiac disease, Jennifer's Way. In it, she included a passage about a relationship gone wrong. "I should have noticed the red flags from the beginning — actually, they were more like an entire marching band squad of red flags — but I ignored them because, honestly, I didn't think the relationship was really going to go anywhere," she wrote. "He was funny, smart, cocky, arrogant, and a master manipulator. I didn't necessarily find him that attractive, but I figured that I could enjoy his sense of humor and nonsense for a while."
"We had fun, but he also had a mean, cold side," she went on, "the relationship was about him and what he needed, and nothing else … It wasn't all bad all the time, so I figured this was just my lot, and I took the good with the bad, even though the bad was extremely bad."
"Within days, my relationship hit an all-time low, and within a week, it was over," she wrote of the relationship's end. "Abruptly, rudely, and with the exact callousness that I'd come to expect from him, but this time, I did nothing but agree to end it."
Esposito never names this "master manipulator," but it's widely speculated to be Cooper. When media coverage of the chapter amped up, Esposito doubled down. "This book is about my journey with celiac disease and only that," she said in a statement. "To refer to anything other than the subject at hand or to make this book about anything else is an insult to me and this disease that plagues so many."
Five years later, Esposito ensnared herself in the Cooper-centric media crossfire once more. After Cooper and A Star Is Born co-star Lady Gaga performed at the 2019 Oscars, David Spade joked about their chemistry in an Instagram post, sharing a screengrab from the duet with the caption, "Is there any chance these 2 aren't fucking?" Esposito commented on the post, writing, "Ha." Of course, much was made of the comment, prompting the Crash star to sound off in an Instagram video.
"You know so many people have been commenting about something that I said,'" she began, clarifying that her comment had little to actually do with Cooper and Gaga's viral moment. "It was towards David Spade's very outward statement about something about an ex, and I literally laughed at him because he was so bold in what he was saying." In fact, she didn't even watch the performance. "I didn't watch the Oscars; I don't know what went on, I don't care what went on," she said. "I commented on something that I thought was funny."
She also commented on outlets' usage of the aforementioned passage in her book about an unnamed ex. "My book, which was a New York Times Best Seller, based on my journey with celiac disease, after I almost died — to [make] it about something so silly and demeaning and stupid of a relationship I had 11 years ago, fuck you."
"I feel bad for those people who are involved on the other side of the 'Ha' because it wasn't at them," she continued, presumably addressing Gaga, Cooper, and Cooper's then-girlfriend Irina Shayk, "and I feel bad for you if you took your time to comment on such insanity today."
She brought her frustration to Twitter as well, tweeting, "so confused. I get off a flight to see a comment I made of 'HA' to a joke from @DavidSpade has gone wild!?. Has everyone gone mad? Somehow I'm insulting an X by laughing at a joke someone else made? Pls take your insanity elsewhere."
Where They Are Now
Cooper went on to date Case 39 co-star Renée Zellweger, Guardians of the Galaxy co-star Zoe Saldaña, actress and model Suki Waterhouse, and model Irina Shayk. Cooper and Shayk welcomed their daughter, Lea De Seine, in 2017, only to split about two years later. Cooper is now reported to be dating Huma Abedin after being introduced by Anna Wintour.
Meanwhile, on the professional front, Cooper is filming Maestro, a Netflix biopic on music legend Leonard Bernstein, in which he is starring and directing. He will also be returning as Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Both films are slated for a 2023 release.
As for Esposito, she wed model Louis Dowler in 2014. Although the couple has since divorced, Esposito found love again, marrying her third husband, trainer Jesper Vesterstrøm, in September 2020. The actress is keeping busy, having played CIA Deputy Director Susan Raynor in the Amazon series The Boys and recently appearing in season 2 of Comedy Central's Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens.