Who: Oscar-winning actress and producer Sandra Bullock, 56, and Emmy-winning actor Tate Donovan, 57.
How They Met: The couple's relationship bloomed on the set of Love Potion No.9, which began filming in 1990. But ah, as with any rom-com worth watching, it’s not quite the simple boy-meets-girl tale.
In an interview Bullock gave to Vanity Fair in 1995, the actress admitted that she “chased [Donovan] like a dog.” And, there’s (maybe) more … Though no names are mentioned, in 2015 Bullock revealed that pal George Clooney helped her get with a man she “would have liked [to be her] boyfriend at the time.”
“When I came out after I spent time with George, George went to him and said, ‘If you don’t marry her, I will,’” Bullock told Access Hollywood. “But that was sort of the thing that sort of got him to just hang with me, the boyfriend,” she continued. “So we were together for four years after that, thanks to George.”
And yes, it’s possible Bullock has another 4-year romance under her belt that she’s kept out of the press, but the only public relationship that hovers around that length was between her and Donovan.
Why We Loved Them: Dating Tate Donovan was something of a ‘90s rite of passage for A-listers (by which I mean Jennifer Aniston also did it). In fact, it was this mutual flame that sparked Bullock and Aniston’s long-standing friendship. During a conversation for Interview magazine earlier this year, the actresses reminisced about being introduced by their ex.
“We were introduced by our former boyfriend. I say ‘our’ because you and I both partook of this one human being,” Bullock said, Aniston noting the setting of their introduction: “the year of the Golden Globes, at that little restaurant. CAA always had that party.”
Bullock described Donovan as "a very patient human being, given that he dated us both.”
“He seems to have a type,” Aniston added.
“Talented. Funny. Kind. Introspective. Generous,” Bullock volunteered.
“Lovers of architecture, lovers of interior design,” Aniston elaborated.
It’s possible that the meeting they speak of happened in 2010, as Donovan told E! News, ”I ran into Sandy and a lot of my exes [at the Golden Globes]” that year. Bullock won for her performance in The Blind Side, while Aniston presented the award for Best Screenplay Motion Picture.
When They Peaked: Today, Bullock stands as one of the most private celebrities of her echelon, but back in the ‘90s Sandy was something of an open book. Even after her split from Donovan, the actress couldn’t help but gush over her ex.
“I adored Tate so much,” she told Vanity Fair. “It’s like they say, there’s one person in your life, and Tate and I are closer than any two people I’ve ever experienced in my life. There’s nobody that means more to me, and I know for a fact that I mean the most to him, in that certain way.”
She opened up to Rolling Stone post-split in a similarly candid way, lamenting, “You have one great love in life, and I’ve had it.”
In 1996 she told Barbara Walters, “Everybody has one that is apart from all the rest … He brought out everything in me that was good, that was bad, that was suppressed.”
"I don't think you ever get over something that is honest,” she admitted, more than a year after the breakup. “It takes a lot for me to fall [in love]. A lot. And knowing him was the greatest gift to myself and to my personality — and to my work, in sort of opening the door."
Also, it’s worth noting that their style was unparalleled. Princess pink two-pieces and oversize blazers? TAKE. ME. BACK.
The Breakup: Despite Bullock’s candidness at the time of her 1994 breakup from Donovan, the actress never revealed the exact reason the duo called it quits.
“I can’t explain why things worked out the way they did. We both know why it happened,” she told Vanity Fair.
The spotlight certainly wasn’t helping though. “It drove Tate crazy,” she said, “But when I did an interview, the last person I wanted to talk about was me, so I’d talk about him for, like, a good three hours.”
That said, Bullock refuted Walters’s claim that perhaps the actress’s burgeoning career contributed to the breakup.
“Never in a million years do I think that success is what pushed a love away," she replied. "That's not it at all. And it doesn't go away. It stays in its very special place. It's always something that'll be taken care of and I respect it, and I protect that more than anything, and I won't let anybody cheapen it. Because two good, honest people, just because it doesn't work doesn't mean they can't stay friends … it doesn't make anybody the bad guy. We both made mistakes and you've got to go on.”
Reasons aside, Bullock told VF, “It’s going to be a long time before I can trust anyone again.” And dating another actor was not exactly a priority for her. “It’s like casting agents are the perfect dating store. They put you together with someone who is beautiful, exceptionally charismatic . . . I’m insecure enough, and secure enough, to say that really scares me. I don’t want somebody to leave me for another great actress.”
Tellingly, Bullock told People, "The person who needed me most was always the person I was attracted to … My priorities were him first, me second."
In 2010, following the Golden Globes run-in with both Aniston and Bullock, Donovan said that all was well between him and his famous exes. “I mean, it's been 150 years, so if you can't bury hatchet in that amount of time something's wrong with you."
Where They Are Now: Bullock did, in fact, date more actors. Occupational hazard, I suppose. The actress reportedly shared quiet relationships with co-stars Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Gosling before marrying West Coast Choppers founder Jesse James in 2005. They divorced five years later. The same year that Bullock and James separated, the Blind Side star adopted son Louis. Five years after welcoming Louis, daughter Laila joined the Bullock family. Though Bullock generally keeps her private life, the actress has reportedly been dating photographer Bryan Randall since around 2015.
Bullock hasn’t appeared on screen since Birdbox’s release in 2018. Her upcoming project, while tightly under wraps (“Untitled Sandra Bullock/Nora Fingscheidt Project”), is slated for a 2021 release.
Donovan married actress Corinne Kingsbury in 2005. They split three years later. His current relationship status is unknown.
Up next for The O.C. alum is Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, out Jan. 15.
#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.
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