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Psst. Want to know the latest on the divorce heard ’round the world, the split between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt that’s been tabloid fodder since the day after she filed?Surprise — it’s good news. The stars’ movie...

In Hollywood, it takes a lot more than divorce to kill a celebrity's career

Psst. Want to know the latest on the divorce heard ’round the world, the split between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt that’s been tabloid fodder since the day after she filed?Surprise — it’s good news. The stars’ movie...

In Hollywood, it takes a lot more than divorce to kill a celebrity's career

Psst. Want to know the latest on the divorce heard ’round the world, the split between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt that’s been tabloid fodder since the day after she filed?

Surprise — it’s good news. The stars’ movie careers are likely to thrive.

Divorce is so common in Hollywood that it almost never damages a career, and most actors survive the swarm of bad publicity over even drug use and scandal, except in the most extreme cases.

“I’ve never really seen where the loss of a relationship was responsible for a dip in someone’s career," said John Tarnoff, head of industry relations at the Carnegie Mellon University Heinz College master of entertainment management program. Celebrities whose careers have suffered after breaking up, he said, “did that to themselves quite apart from the split.”

A look at the A-list couple.

Tom Cruise? He’s doing just fine, despite his trio of divorces (from Mimi Rogers, Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes).  Weird behavior in 2005 — the couch-jumping incident, his trashing of psychiatric drugs — may have cost Cruise/Wagner Productions its exclusive deal at Paramount. But since then, his career has recovered and he has starred in box-office hits including “War of the Worlds” and the fourth and fifth “Mission Impossible” installments.

Robert Downey Jr. has become one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars after spinning out on drugs in the ’90s, pleading no contest to drug and weapons charges and ultimately going to prison for violating probation. In a remarkable career comeback, he’s now “Iron Man” and a family man, has been pardoned and has topped Forbes’ list of the highest-paid actors for three years running.

Michael Douglas in 1995 and Harrison Ford in 2004 both divorced their longtime spouses and paid settlements in the tens of millions, then later married women younger than their exes. But their careers have flourished.

Even Woody Allen’s career has thrived after it became public in 1992 that he had been having an affair with the then-21-year-old adopted daughter of longtime girlfriend Mia Farrow. Allen and Farrow broke up and the writer-director-actor married Soon-Yi Previn in December 1997. Since the early 1990s, he has had seven Oscar nominations and one win and been awash in professional interest from A-list talent. 

In rare cases, of course, alleged behavior is so offensive that it is permanently career damaging. For Bill Cosby, not just his career but his reputation has been irreparably damaged by allegations that he drugged and sexually assaulted more than 50 women over the course of 40 years.

Mel Gibson was effectively exiled from Hollywood after an anti-Semitic tirade, a pricey divorce from his longtime wife and the public release in 2010 of profanity- and slur-filled tapes of him screaming at and threatening his ex-girlfriend, with whom he’d had a child. Under that weight,  the “Lethal Weapons” franchise, “Signs” and the Oscar-winning “Braveheart” gave way to the likes of “The Beaver,” and Gibson’s A-list status as an actor is in the rear-view mirror. As a director though, Gibson is likely to make a comeback with his upcoming World War II drama “Hacksaw Ridge,” which opens in November and is already getting awards buzz.

Say it ain't so: Hollywood reacts to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt divorce news Libby Hill

Celebrities were deep in their feelings Tuesday morning, after learning that Angelina Jolie Pitt had filed for divorce from longtime partner Brad Pitt, and they took to the Internet try to process their many emotions. 

The couple had been together for 11 years and married in August 2014. They have...

Celebrities were deep in their feelings Tuesday morning, after learning that Angelina Jolie Pitt had filed for divorce from longtime partner Brad Pitt, and they took to the Internet try to process their many emotions. 

The couple had been together for 11 years and married in August 2014. They have...

(Libby Hill)

Charlie Sheen, TV’s highest-paid actor in 2010 and 2011, went into rough waters with a domestic-violence charge in 2009. Then he got fired from “Two and a Half Men” in 2011 during a meltdown that included publicly trashing his employers. “Anger Management” revived his career, but not at the same level.

For Jolie and Pitt, the biggest career danger lies in allegations that he has been verbally and physically abusive toward his kids, said David Johnson, CEO of Strategic Vision PR Group in Atlanta.

Headlines about drunkenness (Pitt’s admitted to a party-boy past) and infidelity (even though “Allied” costar Marion Cotillard said nothing happened between them, Pitt’s been a sex symbol since “Thelma & Louise”) would be in line with what the public knows about the actor, Johnson said, but the specter of child abuse or domestic abuse goes against his professional image.

That’s why Pitt’s team is really pushing back against the allegations of verbal and physical violence involving the actor and his kids, Johnson said. If there’s a satisfactory explanation for what happened on that private plane the day before Jolie took off, the public will forgive the rest.

“Her team got that story out first, and in the public’s mind they’re hearing all these things — and yes, his team’s responding as much as they can, but at the same time it’s not loud and clear, and you’re just hearing the thunderbeat, it’s one thing after another,” he said. “That’s the one that could ruin his brand ... even as far as wanting to cast him as films.”

But Danny Deraney of Deraney Public Relations in Los Angeles doesn’t see permanent damage coming to either Pitt or Jolie’s career as a result of their divorce.

“It depends what kind of news is going to come out and what people are going to believe,” he said. “When things like this happen there’s always going to be a little bit of bruising here and there, but we’re a forgiving society and as long as it’s not something that’s absolutely horrible, in the end people will just be OK and they’ll move on.”

Both Pitt and Jolie have thriving Hollywood careers.  Pitt still has star power as an actor and is a major player as a producer with his company Plan B. Jolie continues to act but increasingly is interested in directing. 

“People are still going to see Brad Pitt movies,” Deraney said. “They’re still going to see Angelina Jolie movies.”

Caption 'Long Way North' movie review by Kenneth Turan

Kenneth Turan reviews the animated film "Long Way North," about a young girl's journey to the Arctic in search of her grandfather at the end of the 19th century. Video by Jason H. Neubert

Kenneth Turan reviews the animated film "Long Way North," about a young girl's journey to the Arctic in search of her grandfather at the end of the 19th century. Video by Jason H. Neubert

Caption 'Long Way North' movie review by Kenneth Turan

Kenneth Turan reviews the animated film "Long Way North," about a young girl's journey to the Arctic in search of her grandfather at the end of the 19th century. Video by Jason H. Neubert

Kenneth Turan reviews the animated film "Long Way North," about a young girl's journey to the Arctic in search of her grandfather at the end of the 19th century. Video by Jason H. Neubert

Caption Tori Amos on how her experience with sexual violence shaped her song for 'Audrie & Daisy'

Tori Amos discusses how her own experience with sexual violence inspired her song "Flicker," from the new Netflix documentary "Audrie & Daisy."

Tori Amos discusses how her own experience with sexual violence inspired her song "Flicker," from the new Netflix documentary "Audrie & Daisy."

Caption James Taylor, Vince Gill and Joe Walsh reflect on memorable songs at the Country Hall of Fame benefit

At a Country Music Hall of Fame benefit, James Taylor, Vince Gill and Joe Walsh reflect on songs that stood out in their memories.

At a Country Music Hall of Fame benefit, James Taylor, Vince Gill and Joe Walsh reflect on songs that stood out in their memories.

Caption DJI's first personal drone

DJI has released the Mavic Pro -- a portable easy-to-use drone featuring a 4k camera on DJI's smallest three-axis gimbal, a video-game styled remote control and five vision-positioning cameras -- all wrapped in a small package.

DJI has released the Mavic Pro -- a portable easy-to-use drone featuring a 4k camera on DJI's smallest three-axis gimbal, a video-game styled remote control and five vision-positioning cameras -- all wrapped in a small package.

Caption 'Work-in-progress' video of Belkis Ayón

The late Cuban printmaker Belkis Ayón mysteriously took her own life in 1999.  The Fowler Museum will open the first Ayón retrospective in the U.S. on Oct. 2.  Here, in a silent video shot in Cuba a year before her death, the artist is shown making one of her large scale collographs on a hand-cranked...

The late Cuban printmaker Belkis Ayón mysteriously took her own life in 1999.  The Fowler Museum will open the first Ayón retrospective in the U.S. on Oct. 2.  Here, in a silent video shot in Cuba a year before her death, the artist is shown making one of her large scale collographs on a hand-cranked...

Follow Christie D’Zurilla on Twitter @theCDZ.

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