Why Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso Are Still Hollywood’s Best Couple.


In 2016, the unthinkable happened. No, not the deaths of Prince and David Bowie or the election of Donald Trump (although that was a shocker), but an altogether different type of bad news: the impending split of Hollywood’s most adored couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

When news hit that Jolie filed for divorce from Pitt in September, it was hard not to take it personally. “If Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are actually getting divorced, there’s def no hope for the rest of us,” tweeted Huffington Post editor Minou Clark. But while the demise of Brangelina was definitely the end of an era, the truth is, their relationship couldn’t hold a candle to what just may be Hollywood’s actual greatest romance: that of Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso.

The love story between the Bourne Identity star and his Argentine wife, who are celebrating their 11th anniversary today, begins in perhaps the last location you would think anyone would find his or her soul mate: a Miami bar. It was an unlikely but fateful meeting.

During an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2011, Damon explained all the factors that had to take place for Barroso to have entered his life. In 2003, after much deliberation, he had decided to star in the Farrelly brothers comedy Stuck on You. “We were supposed to shoot in Hawaii, and then the movie got moved to Miami. . . . I had never really hung out in Miami,” he told DeGeneres. One night a couple of guys from the movie’s crew wanted to go out, and he said he eventually got dragged to the bar where his future wife happened to be the bartender. “I literally saw her across a crowded room, literally,” he said.

 “Eight years and four kids later, that’s my life. I don’t know how else our paths would’ve crossed if that didn’t happen. If all those things didn’t happen.”

A divorcée with a 4-year-old daughter, Barroso wasn’t at all like the other women Damon had previously dated. As a budding star in Hollywood, he had enjoyed two public relationships in the spotlight: with his Good Will Hunting costar Minnie Driver, and with Winona Ryder, whom he met through his BFF Ben Affleck’s then-girlfriend, Gwyneth Paltrow. Barroso and Damon dated for a few years and then quietly got married at Manhattan’s City Hall in 2005, just a few months before the birth of their first daughter together.

Since then, they’ve had two more daughters and remain one of the most solid relationships in Hollywood. (Let’s not forget that in the movie industry, staying married for a decade is as rare and as admirable as back-to-back Oscar wins.) Perhaps that’s why in interviews Damon gets asked for marriage advice just as frequently as he’s asked about Bourne sequels. And according to the 46-year-old actor, one of his key relationship secrets is the simplest one: He and Barroso have an agreement to never spend more than two weeks apart. While their rule doesn’t quite reach the epic levels of Paul McCartney and his late wife Linda’s inseparability (in 29 years of marriage, they only spent 11 days apart), for an in-demand film star, it’s still pretty impressive. When he was cast in Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, which was shot in South Africa, Damon not only flew his family over for the filming, he also brought along his 11-year-old daughter’s entire class for a 10-day field trip. “We arranged it with the school and the kids did a school project there,” he explained. “They learned all about Mandela. It was such a great trip because my family was together and the kids didn’t lose any school time.

There is always a way to work it out.”

Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso in 2005
Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso in 2005
Photo: Getty Images
Barroso’s anonymity, and her steadfast determination to keep it that way, is also a major factor in making their relationship work. “I got lucky. I fell in love with a civilian,” Damon once said to Esquire. Unlike other non-famous spouses of A-listers, Barroso has never tried to use her husband’s status to further her career. There has been no cookbook, no producing career, no full-court press on social media. In fact, you’ll have a hard time even finding a clip of Barroso speaking. (I went down a Google rabbit hole looking for what her voice might sound like and found only videos of her graciously walking past paparazzi to her car in silence.)

Some celebrities have argued that only a partner who is also in the spotlight can understand—and put up with—the trappings of fame. But Damon believes that pairing up with a “civilian” is precisely how he’s kept any sort of normalcy in his life. Just look at how different his experience with the paparazzi has been to that of Affleck’s. Like him, Affleck also dated several famous women—Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez—and ended up marrying actress Jennifer Garner. And while their relationship seemed as suburban as could be (except for the whole nannygate fallout), photographers were always on the hunt for a snap of the Affleck-Garner brood out in parks or on playdates. In contrast, Damon has managed to continue being a relatively ordinary parent to his four daughters while living in New York and Los Angeles. “They can try to stake me out, but they’re always going to get the same story: middle-aged married guy with four kids,” he once said. “I remember telling [Brad Pitt] that I walk my kids to school, and his face just fell.” Now think: Do you even know what Damon’s kids look like? We don’t either. (Isn’t that great?)

Of course, privacy and relationship pacts aside, what has kept Damon and Barroso together for so long is first and foremost their love for each other, which was on full display during the couple’s vow renewal ceremony in St. Lucia in 2013. In the invitation to the event, attended by friends including Affleck and Garner, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, and Jimmy Kimmel, they shared the story about the first time they met. Damon admitted that he was busy trying to “think of something cool to say,” while Barroso confessed she initially had no idea who he was.

“He looked a little like that guy from the silly Will Smith movie about golf, only pudgier,” the invite read. “That dorky guy ended up being the love of my life.”

When Affleck and Garner’s separation was announced last year, Damon was once again asked if he had any relationship expertise to share with his friend. “I think marriage is insane,” he said to Entertainment Tonight. “It’s a crazy idea, but I love being married to my wife,” before adding, “I’m lucky I found my wife.

And I guess maybe, if there’s any secret, it’s to feel lucky.” A movie star walks into a random bar one night and happens to strike up a conversation with a bartender, who is completely clueless to his identity. Endless red carpet premieres, three Oscar nominations, and one crowning as People’s Sexiest Man Alive later, the movie star still considers himself the lucky one. How can you not fall in love with that?

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