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Laura Dern Reveals How She Learned Billy Bob Thornton Left Her For Angelina Jolie

Photo: Featureflash Photo Agency | Kathy Hutchins | Shutterstock
Angelina Jolie, Billy Bob Thornton, Laura Dern

Before there was the Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, and Angelina Jolie love triangle, Jolie found herself involved in a similar messy breakup, involving Billy Bob Thornton and Laura Dern.

Before Jolie married Thornton, the actor had been in a relationship with Dern after meeting her during a taping of Ellen DeGeneres' sitcom 'Ellen' in 1997, where the comedian famously came out as gay.

While filming the episode, where Dern played DeGeneres’ love interest, Susan, and fresh from her split with 'Jurassic Park' co-star Jeff Goldblum, Dern met and fell in love with Thornton.

After meeting, the two started dating before getting engaged. They had been together for three years, and Dern had been well on her to becoming Thornton's fifth wife when suddenly, the relationship came crumbling down around her.

Laura Dern learned her engagement to Billy Bob Thornton was over when he went public with Angelina Jolie.

In 1999, Thornton left to film the movie 'Pushing Tin,' starring opposite Jolie, while Dern left to make a film of her own as well. There had not been a single worry in her mind that Thornton would become involved with Jolie, as Dern trusted her fiancé.

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However, in May 2000, Thornton and Jolie shocked the world following their marriage in Las Vegas, where they infamously wore vials of each other's blood around their necks.

Numerous magazine outlets and tabloids covered the shocking nuptials, but no one was more surprised than Dern, who learned about her fiancé's new romance with Jolie, whom Dern allegedly used to babysit once upon a time, while reading the news.

“I left our home to work on a movie, and while I was away, my boyfriend got married, and I’ve never heard from him again," Dern said during an interview with Talk magazine

"It’s like a sudden death. For no one has there been any closure or clarity," she continued, adding that afterward, Thornton ghosted her in the process. She never heard from him again.

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In 2016, musician Melissa Etheridge shared the ugly details of Laura Dern and Billy Bob Thornton's break-up, calling it "nasty" while speaking with Andy Cohen on his Sirius XM radio show.

“I was around when Angelina was not doing nice things with Billy Bob to Laura Dern,” she said. “I helped Laura move out of her house with Billy Bob – I like broke into their home to get their stuff out because it was so nasty.”

Thornton later made a rather weak public apology to Dern in a 2001 Guardian interview. "Others may say that you left our girl and married someone else, but it made me happy and somebody else happy. I’m sorry it caused pain.”

He continued, saying that he knew he "f-ked up a lot of things" while in different relationships but doesn't feel as if he needs to take up couple's counseling because he didn't like to "work on things."

Dern and Thornton would later have an awkward almost-encounter during the 2017 Golden Globes, where they reportedly didn't make eye contact with one another. 

As for Jolie and Thornton, the two were married from 2000 to 2003, and the actor reflected on his marriage to Jolie during a 2018 podcast interview for HFPA in Conversation.

 “I look at that time as a great time,” he said. “Angie is still a friend of mine and she’s a great person and she’s done so much.”

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Keep up with her on Instagram and Twitter.