Never has the world rooted so hard for an attractive, talented, eligible bachelor to be taken off the market.
But there's just something about Brad Pitt—a two-time Oscar winner, two-time pick for People's Sexiest Man Alive—that makes people wish he would just settle down already. Which we get. He's charming, just the right amount of self-deprecating and pretty much game for anything, whether that's giving a shout-out to disappointed college grads in his native Missouri, flexing his weatherman chops wherever they're needed or making Dr. Anthony Fauci's dreams come true on Saturday Night Live.
And he's had kind of a rough go of it during his divorce from Angelina Jolie, an ongoing, oft-contentious split we somehow know too much about (he's copped to a drinking problem, to not being fully there for her and their six kids; and she most recently told Vogue India, "I separated for the wellbeing of my family") and not nearly enough.
Plus, he did say he was on Tinder.
In the four years since his and Jolie's bombshell of a separation announcement dropped, Pitt has been paired off with no less than nine potential mates—everyone from Kate Hudson to Jennifer Lawrence having to deny they were seeing the rugged movie star. And don't even get us started on the Jennifer Aniston fan fic.
It's all been a bit ridiculous, even for a man who long ago accepted his frequent tabloid cover status.
"People always say they don't read about themselves. I never believe it," Pitt told The New York Times in 2019. "I don't go out of my way to avoid it; I just don't seek it out. I don't know how many women they've said I've been dating the last two or three years, and none of it's true."
This latest one, though, just might have legs.
Model Nicole Poturalski has an already established career—posing for the likes of Harper's Bazaar and even the September cover of Elle Germany—a certain worldliness we'd imagine the peripatetic star appreciating, with the German-born 27-year-old speaking some five languages, and having a son of her own, 7-year-old Emil. And she and the 56-year-old's cozy November outing to a Kanye West concert at the Hollywood Bowl certainly suggests they weren't simply chatting about Pitt's love of architecture or an upcoming project.
"Brad and Nicole were introduced through friends, and when they first started seeing each other, they told no one about it. Even some of their inner circle of friends are only finding out now," a source told ET of their incredibly quiet months-long romance. "Brad has been very private about dating."
Their most recent sighting was certainly covert, the pair converging at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport from their separate homes in Berlin and Los Angeles, before slipping into a chauffeured sedan that would take them to nearby Paris–Le Bourget Airport for their private flight to the South of France.
In town to promote his Miraval wine line, a source tells E! News, Pitt had invited Poturalski to join him for the weekend at Miraval Château, the sprawling 1,000-acre property that once played host to his wedding with Jolie. It's the type of trip you'd expect from an established couple, making us all wonder just how long the pair has been hiding in plain sight.
Her social media feed offers some clues, the model writing in a since-deleted February Instagram, "Missing my strolls with my Love," and musing the following month, "Saturdays these days for me is self reflection, reading books spending time with my better half."
But, beyond that, their burgeoning relationship has remained largely under wraps, reminding us that, actually, Pitt's been doing this dating-in-the-public-eye thing for awhile now and he's gotten pretty good at it.
For instance, he spent the whole of awards season, his victory lap for a deft turn in Quentin Tarantino's smash ensemble film Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood, using his perfectly crafted acceptance speeches and various interviews to make cracks about his single status. Or what he called "my disaster of a personal life" in a January episode of WTF With Marc Maron.
And entertainment outlets linking him to, as he put it at the Golden Globes, "any woman I stand next to," created enough hysteria about the wrong matches to allow him to slip away with a potential Miss Right.
The first woman to get the Next Mrs. Brad Pitt treatment was Kate Hudson. Their coupling was pretty much sealed when the then-single actress went on Howard Stern's radio show mere days after Pitt's 2016 split from Jolie and shared that, while a personality is great and all, she was really looking for a man that inspired more lust than laughs.
"You know what I really want right now? Honestly—I'm just gonna be honest—I want funny. Funny makes me happy. But I just want someone really hot!" she shared. "Like, I just want, like, a hot guy right now. Not quite for life, you know."
When the host suggested someone with, perhaps, Pitt's pedigree, Hudson played along, replying, "Yes! I think Brad is very, very handsome." But when Stern pointed out that Pitt was available should she be interested, she demurred, "Oh god, Howard!"
No matter, they were soon paired off, enjoying supposed nights of passion and even moving in together before a "bitter" Hudson dumped him when he refused to marry her just months into their courtship.
Quite the soap opera, but the truth was much less strange than fiction. They were never together, she revealed on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen in November 2017, but she wasn't exactly mad about people attaching her to one of the industry's most in-demand guys. This, despite the fact that she was already very much dating her longtime friend, musician Danny Fujikawa, the couple welcoming daughter Rani Rose Hudson-Fujikawa in October 2018.
Sure it was "the craziest rumor of all time," she told host Andy Cohen, noting that she and Pitt hadn't actually crossed paths "in, like, four years." But she wasn't complaining. "It was kind of an awesome rumor," she joked. "I kind of liked it. I was like, 'OK, fine. We're having twins!'"
Jennifer Lawrence, now wed to gallery owner Cooke Maroney, was game as well. "I've met him once in, like. 2013, so it was very random," she said in March 2018, also on WWHL. "But, I also wasn't, like, in a huge hurry to debunk it."
Lena Dunham got caught up in all of it when an unfortunately timed photo made their July 2019 greeting at the London premiere of Once Upon A Time...In Hollywood seem...strange. And Alia Shawkat heard her name linked with Pitt's so many time she felt the need to speak out on their entirely platonic relationship. "We just became friends," the actress told Vulture in June, "and Brad introduced me to his group of friends, and it grew from there." (She, in fact, was sitting just behind Pitt and Poturalski at the West concert, so count her among the pals in his inner-inner circle.)
The most promising rumor, though, involved M.I.T. professor Neri Oxman. A renowned expert in architecture made sense. Pitt's old pal George Clooney had found love with a non-Hollywood type who seamlessly stepped into his world, often outshining him, so why wouldn't it work for Pitt? And he was intrigued by Oxman. The daughter of two professors The New York Times dubbed "architectural royalty," she spent time as a first lieutenant in the Israeli air force and in medical school before earning her Ph.D. in design computation at M.I.T.
Having long been passionate about the field, renovating his own homes and building sustainable housing in New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward, Pitt visited one of her classes in late 2017 and found the Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences to be "brilliant," a source told E! News. "He's interested in getting to know her more and learning from her."
The one snag, of course, as we all learned in an October 2018 New York Times profile of the Cooper Hewitt Design award winner, was that she was otherwise entangled with Harvard-educated billionaire hedge funder William A. Ackman. And theirs was no casual affair. By January they had wed quietly in a New York City synagogue and they welcomed their first child months later.
So another disappointment. Not for Pitt, of course, who's long proclaimed that he was happily doing his thing, dating casually in between time spent with his and Jolie's kids, working on various movie sets and going to dinners with pals.
And, yes, that includes Aniston, the exes remaining friendly enough for him to score an invite to her 50th birthday party in February 2019. Sharing the briefest of exchanges at January's SAG Awards, they had us all thinking for a beat that perhaps the world had tipped on its axis and we were back in the 2000s again.
Except for as many people as there are still wishing for the late '90s golden couple to reunite, Pitt and Aniston aren't among them, the actors happily settled into a friendship that's not fated to become more.
Which brings us to Poturalski, the laid-back model and devoted mom who might, in fact, be just right for the midwestern-bred superstar who's still humble enough to wear his name tag at an Oscars luncheon.
"Her friends describe her as super easy going," the source told ET. "She is very down to earth and far from star-struck, which has been really nice for Brad." And even if Poturalski doesn't turn out to be Pitt's forever, we have a feeling the actor will be just fine.
"I've been at it for 30 years. I've met a lot of great people," he told E! News of his crew, after accepting his SAG for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role. "I have some dear old friends for 30 years. We all started together and grew up in it. They know who they are. It's all good."
But, just maybe he's ready to add a new one into the mix.