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VOICE OVER: Kirsten Ria Squibb WRITTEN BY: Jaye Beekhuis
Were these relationships real or PR stunts? Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're looking at celebrity pairings that felt a little too staged or were just too good to be true. Our countdown includes Taylor Swift & Tom Hiddleston, Vanessa Hudgens & Zac Efron, Jennifer Aniston & Vince Vaughn, and more!

#20: Steve-O & Nicole Richie

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In 2006, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie had captured the world’s attention with their over-the-top reality show “The Simple Life.” And while Nicole initially gained fame for her socialite status, she was also making headlines with DUI’s and her sudden weight loss. The same year, Steve-O was hot off of his “Jackass” success, but he was also no stranger to bad press. So when the duo were spotted packing on the PDA, fans were quick to doubt the convenient coupling. The comedian later confirmed these suspicions, saying the pairing was just for attention.

#19: Kendall Jenner & Bad Bunny

When pictures first emerged in 2023 of the supermodel and Puerto Rican musician together, the internet was thrown into speculation shambles. Those who disapproved of the pairing quickly assumed it was another one of Kris Jenner’s publicity schemes. Masses of Bad Bunny fans expressed their disappointment, and not without reason. While the singer is celebrated for his outspoken representation of Latino culture in the mainstream pop scene, Kendall has repeatedly been accused of appropriating that culture. However, the couple were continually spotted together until no one could deny the truth, but at least we got this iconic video.

#18: Phyllis Gates & Rock Hudson

Traveling back in time to the great silver screen romances, this couple first met in the mid-1950s. An unlikely pairing, Rock Hudson was a big time movie star while Phyllis was his agent’s secretary. However, when people began to question the charismatic actor’s sexuality, he was quickly married to quell the rumors. And while sources have said he was eager to keep up his all-American persona their marriage fell apart after just three years. More would come to light after Hudson’s AIDS diagnosis, which led to the actor’s tragic passing in 1985.

#17: Chad Michael Murray & Sophia Bush

Apparently, the behind-the-scenes drama between these “One Tree Hill” costars would have made the show seem like a bore. When they began dating in 2002, it looked like just another case of young actors dating their castmates. However, when they got engaged, married, and divorced in less than a year and a half, the public started to question the relationship’s legitimacy. Years later, Sophia alluded to feeling pressured into the marriage, but this sparked backlash from Chad’s team, who denied the claim. Now, the actress just chalks it up to a youthful mistake, but we can’t help but wonder if there’s more to the story.

#16: Ben Affleck & Ana de Armas

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When usually private co-stars publicly debut their relationship leading up to promotions for a new movie, it’s easy to be suspicious. And at the beginning of lockdown, social media was suddenly bombarded with endless paparazzi shots of Ben and Ana grabbing coffee or walking their dogs. They quickly became the “Quarantine Couple,” and the internet seemed to agree that all the signs were pointing to a PR sham for their film “Deep Water.” And while Ana has said that the pressure of the constant spotlight led to her leaving LA, we’re still not over this iconic photo of her cardboard cutout being thrown out in the trash.

#15: Jennifer Aniston & Vince Vaughn

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In 2005, the media went crazy over Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anistons’s sudden divorce. But Angelina Jolie wasn’t the only Mr. & Mrs. Smith co-star who got involved with one of these exes. That same year, Vince Vaughn went on to star alongside none other than Aniston in a movie conveniently called “The Break-Up.” So when rumors of romance between the two began, people assumed it was all a set-up. The public attention then led to the film becoming a box office hit, and the couple’s post-release breakup only added to the PR accusations. However, the couple still speaks highly of their short time together and it appears like they’ve remained friends ever since.

#14: Theo James & Shailene Woodley

After these actors were cast as Tris and Four in the popular Divergent series, fans were quick to clock just how much chemistry the pair shared. From their steamy romance scenes in the film to their flirty banter during press and promotions, the public was left wondering if it was more than acting. While they denied being in a relationship, their jokes of repeatedly practicing the film’s kiss scene didn’t help quell any rumors. Like many suspected, Theo later went on to say that everything between the two was all in an effort to make their characters’ relationship feel legitimate.

#13: Kylie Jenner & Timothée Chalamet

This is truly a celebrity pairing that no one saw coming in 2023. And while grainy paparazzi photos, rumors of Kylie’s car in the actor’s driveway, and inside sources had teased this duo for months, the public was certain it was fabricated. Then came the Beyoncé concert, where the two first put their relationship on public display, and the internet went wild. Some attributed the sudden attention to yet another Kris Jenner master plan, while others wondered what the two could possibly have in common. It looks like only time will tell.

#12: The Weeknd & Selena Gomez

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When paparazzi photos of these two kissing first circulated in 2017, fans weren’t sure what to think. And as the couple became more publicly involved, people still weren’t buying it. Many pointed to Selena’s past, wondering if she was trying to get away from the never-ending Justin Bieber drama and recalling her previous fake fling with Zedd to promote their collaboration. When the couple was reported to have parted ways less than a year later, gossip sites insisted that the relationship was entirely contractual. The nail in the coffin was Selena’s 2020 video with NikkiTutorials, where she shared her lengthy solo status. Oops!

#11: Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello

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Where do we even begin with this one? From constant photos of the pair making out to that one kissing video, this relationship feels like a fever dream. And while celebrities are usually busy denying dating claims, Shawn and Camila spent their time together trying to convince the public that they were a real couple. The pair going public around the release of their song “Senorita” didn’t help their case, and neither did Shawn’s previously speculated PR relationship with Hailey Baldwin. However, the couple proved the naysayers wrong by staying together for two years until their eventual breakup in 2021.

#10: Kim Kardashian & Pete Davidson

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In the wake of Pete’s public breakup with Ariana Grande, fans weren’t convinced his time with Kate Beckinsale was anything more than a vengeful rebound. However, Pete went on to surprise the world by dating a long list of Hollywood's most beautiful and successful women. Perhaps the most unexpected was the newly divorced Kim Kardashian. And while you might remember their SNL skit, his public fights with Kanye, or the fact that Pete got branded for her, an inside source at Hulu revealed that producers tried to tease the relationship longer just to pique public interest in the Kardashians’ show.

#9: Taylor Swift & Harry Styles

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Swifties were quick to point out that Taylor’s vault track “Is It Over Now?” seems a lot like an answer to all the “Haylor” speculations. Those who were in the 2012 Tumblr trenches are sure to remember everything from the park date photos to the paper airplane necklaces. But when rumors of this it-couple began, fans were quick to point out mismatched timelines and the usually private stars’ sudden influx of paparazzi photos. Since their separation in 2013 (and the iconic boat photo), there have been plenty of complex fan-theories and connections between the two, and real or not, they’ve still got the world’s attention a decade later.

#8: Kaley Cuoco & Henry Cavill

The “Big Bang” actress took soft launching a new boo to another level when she suddenly promoted Henry Cavill’s upcoming film on her social media. However, her apparent fling with the superhero only lasted a handful of paparazzi-heavy outings before the two went their separate ways. Many were suspicious, noting that Kaley had a history of keeping her relationships out of the public eye, and then it came out that the actors were under the same PR agency. At the end of the day, it looks like this pairing was just another orchestrated career move.

#7: Jennifer Lopez & Drake

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Neither the rapper nor the singer are lacking in star-studded exes, but this high-profile pairing still seemed almost too good to be true. Rumors about the pair growing close had been swirling since Drake’s public breakup with Rihanna, and the duo quickly went Instagram official in December of 2016. However, when their whirlwind relationship fizzled out right before the musicians’ upcoming releases, all signs were pointing to a promotional stunt. Later, both inside sources and Drake and J.Lo themselves would look back on the whole thing as more of a booty call.

#6: Lisa Marie Presley & Michael Jackson

The King of Pop first asked the King of Rock’s daughter to marry him in 1993. However, not only was this conversation over the phone, but at the time, Lisa Marie was married to her first husband. After her divorce, the couple eloped mere weeks later, but few believed their union would be a happily ever after. Neither were strangers to headlines, and Michael was in the midst of sexual abuse allegations that would follow him the rest of his career. While they always insisted they were in love, the pair would go on to end things the next year.

#5: Vanessa Hudgens & Zac Efron

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Before we ruin hundreds of childhoods, these two Disney stars did end up dating for five years. And looking back, there’s overwhelming evidence that the two actors were truly in love. But when fans first noticed their chemistry during promotions for “High School Musical,” many wondered if the rumors were just for press. Though they constantly appeared together, the couple was always coy when asked about their relationship. But while the public kept guessing, Zac later denied that “Zanessa” was ever just for PR, pointing out that they surely would have ended things a lot sooner.

#4: Kim Kardashian & Kris Humphries

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Somehow, Kim marrying an athlete who towered over her and shared her mom’s name wasn’t even the weirdest part of this high-profile relationship. Add on a 72 day marriage, a popular reality tv show, and the Kardashian family’s tendency to create drama and you’ve got the recipe for a Kris Jenner PR masterpiece. When the couple publicized their separation, Humphries expressed he felt used to further Kim’s show and personal brand. Now, both have said the relationship was real and it was a youthful mistake, but the questionable union will always hold a place in celebrity gossip infamy.

#3: Taylor Swift & Tom Hiddleston

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How far would an actor go to book the role of James Bond? That was the question on everyone’s minds when Taylor Swift was first linked with Tom Hiddleston in 2016. From the constant paparazzi photos to Tom’s T.S. themed shirt, fans were certain this couple was staged. And they certainly made a media splash in their few months together. Who can forget the platinum bob and oceanside makeouts that made up the Hiddleswift whirlwind? Since then, Tom’s labeled their very short time together as 100% authentic, and Taylor’s lyrics also seem to paint the actor as more of a dreamy rebound than a PR setup.

#2: Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson

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While no one fully anticipated the “Twilight” films’ enormous success, the fans predicted Edward and Bella’s eventual off-screen involvement from the start. The couple was dedicated to keeping their relationship status on the down low for years before the rumors were ever officially confirmed. But when all finally seemed to be going well with the it-couple, Kristen’s 2012 cheating scandal rocked the world. It was all anyone could talk about, and conspirators pointed out the timing conveniently matching up with the final film’s release. And while the actress had admitted they were treated like a marketing commodity, she continually shut down suggestions that it was just fodder for pr.

#1: Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes

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The rumors surrounding this relationship are so bizarre that they could create their own movie franchise. But they all share one thing in common: The Church of Scientology. Tom Cruise has always been a wildcard, and this characteristic extends to his relationship with Katie Holmes i. From the famous moment on “Oprah” to getting engaged and having a baby in the same year, their time together was anything but ordinary. And while their public debut seemed conveniently timed, it only raised more questions when Katie Holmes later filed for divorce and insisted on custody of their daughter. So, we can’t help but wonder: was this really her escape plan or just the end of a contract that had run its course? Which of these relationships are you convinced are real, and which ones do you think were all for show? Let us know in the comments below.

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