by Natalie Finn | Fri., Feb. 17, 2017 6:00 AM
Remember that time you were a single mom tending bar in Miami and you caught Matt Damon's eye, and then he married you?
That did happen to Luciana Barroso, now Damon's wife of 10 years. She is one of the select few who have lived the closest thing the real world has to a fairy tale—unless you're Kate Middleton, who really was swept off her feet by a prince and became actual royalty who occasionally wears a tiara unironically.
But the sweeping goes both ways: While plenty of celebrities in successful relationships cite the fact that they understand each other's jobs as a key factor in how they make it work, just as many say that their significant other not being in show business is a wonderful thing.
"A lot of it boils down to luck: my wife's a civilian and that takes a lot of pressure off," Damon told The Guardian in 2013. "It's really sex and scandal that moves those magazines, and there's nothing scandalous about a guy who's married and has kids. If they come outside where I live, they are going to die of boredom—there's just nothing really going on that would sell a magazine."
That's true. As big a star as Damon is, you don't see rampant split speculation targeting him the way it did his Ocean's Eleven co-star Brad Pitt, who was dogged by breakup rumors for years until one day they came true.
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And how did Damon get so lucky?
"I literally saw her across a crowded room, literally," he said on Ellen once, explaining that his 2002 movie Stuck on You was supposed to shoot in Hawaii but got rerouted to Miami. "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."
Pal George Clooneycertainly considers himself lucky as well, although "normal" isn't exactly a word people would use to describe his wife, Amal Clooney (née Alamuddin). The Oscar winner met the human rights attorney in Italy, where George, as a vacation-home owner on Lake Como, spends a fair amount of time. As it would turn out, Amal already had a sizable following on social media thanks to her high-profile work battling international government oppression, but she was unknown enough to initially be labeled a "mystery lady" when they first started dating.
George apparently wooed Amal over email
"It's a humbling thing when you find someone to love. Even better when you've been waiting your whole life," he said in his Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech at the 2015 Golden Globes, just one year after Tina Fey and Amy Poehler had joked about him preferring to "float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age."
"Amal, whatever alchemy it is that brought us together, I couldn't be more proud to be your husband," Clooney told his blushing bride in the audience, eliciting swoons from around the world and presumably more than a few googlings of the word "alchemy," as in "how do I use alchemy to get someone like George Clooney?"
But so far we're sensing a theme: Right place, right time. And if it's not exactly the right time...you wait a bit.
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Julia Roberts, aka Mrs. Moder when she's not working, met Danny Moder in 2000 when he was a cameraman on her heist film The Mexican, which came out in 2001. She was dating Benjamin Bratt and Moder was married at the time, but alchemy works in mysterious ways.
So, forgettable movie, but the Moders will celebrate 15 years of marriage in July.
"I hope that there are people who agree that I have done some good, kind things in my life, but to really, ultimately, stand fully in a moment of realizing that I was born to love and to be the wife of this man," Roberts, no stranger to quick decision-making in the romance or marriage department, stated her case to Diane Sawyer in 2002 after she and Moder tied the knot.
And while we'll move out of George Clooney's social circle eventually, add Sandra Bullock to the list of major stars who've found happiness with a person who didn't come with a Wikipedia page.
Clint Brewer/TC/Splash News
The Oscar winner reportedly met model turned photographer Bryan Randall, her boyfriend of now a year and a half, after he was hired to take the pictures at her son Louis' birthday party. Like Bullock, Randall's a parent and, unlike an actor or a mechanic turned reality TV star living a double life, he had a schedule that was amenable to Bullock's lifestyle.
She's kept quite a lid on this one, content to just be happy in private.
"Sandy has found her soul mate," a source told E! News last summer. "Her friends and family love seeing Sandy so happy." Moreover, Bullock's "key to happiness," the insider added, was living "a normal life." Who better to do that with than a "normal guy"?
Also taking the opportunity to fall in love after hiring someone, Eddie Redmaynemarried his publicist! That's right, Hannah Bagshawe, who gave birth to the couple's first child together last June, first worked with the actor—and she was doing a great job, too. Didn't it seem that Redmayne went from cute, "I kinda remember that guy" status in Les Misérables to Oscar winner and star of nearly Cumberbatchian proportions practically overnight?
Speaking of Benedict Cumberbatch, his wife, Sophie Hunter, is in the arts as well, but prestige as a theater director and actress in the U.K. is quite different from what ol' Ben was dealing with internationally as the star of Sherlock and many, many women's dreams.
So while they did meet on the set of a film, the British thriller Burlesque Fairytales (which is set in a theater), it's Benedict's fame they work around (though she was promptly confused with Sophie Turner right off the bat when their engagement was announced).
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
"She's proud of my work, she's proud of me, and she loves me," the actor told People in 2014. "That's the bottom line, isn't it? That's one of the reasons it's a good fit. It could be a really difficult thing, but she's just so in command of it."
And at the end of the day, he's just normal, too, right?
"I'm a homebody," Cumberbatch said. "I love to stay in at night, light a fire, have a whiskey and watch a movie or read a good book." To handle his level of fame, "the trick is to not be self-conscious and to go about your normal day."
He's also a bit of a theater buff, so we're assuming he and the missus discuss Shakespeare and the War of the Roses a lot.
Shared interests is certainly important down the road—and it could be where the love connection is made in the first place.
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Create & Cultivate
Aaron Paul and wife Lauren Parsekian met at Coachella, and music festivals remain in their date-night bag of tricks.
"We fell in love at Coachella," the Breaking Bad star revealed on Reddit not long after he and Parsekian, who co-founded the Kind Campaign, which works to educate and prevent bullying among girls. "We had our first kiss on a ferris wheel at Coachella. So anything that reminds us of that we're very excited to do."
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's previously unheard-of wife is also a visionary who's day job is to try and make life better for people. Tasha McCauley, a MBA holder who quietly married the actor-director before any of his adoring fans knew what hit them, co-founded Fellow Robots, an efficiency-maximization service for businesses, and was the director of business development at GeoSim—which, as the name implies, makes 3-D simulations of cities and other locations to aid planning and development.
"I have a girlfriend, but I tend not to really like to talk about it in public," Gordon-Levitt told Howard Stern in 2013. "She is not in show business." He divulged enough to say they met through mutual friends.
"The girl that I'm with, she really doesn't want to be a part of it," the Don Jon star added. "You can imagine not wanting to have that kind of scrutiny."
A level of scrutiny that we bet the famous wish they didn't have to deal with all the time either. Moreover, successfully dating outside the Hollywood ego pool may just keep one's own ego in check, as well as put life in perspective whenever it starts to turn into one box office receipt, press junket or headline after another.
"There was a moment yesterday where I was in rehearsal and my wife was calling me because our dishwasher broke down," Redmayne told E! News at the Producers Guild Awards in 2015. "So in the process of trying to focus on my craft, I was dealing with the blocked pipes."
See, if the celebrity is worth his salt, he'll be of the ilk who never takes himself too seriously.
And that's probably why, if you poll any of the aforementioned A-listers, they'll all pronounce themselves the lucky ones.
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