You may have heard that actors Katie Holmes and Jamie Foxx are a couple. Perhaps you’ve seen a photograph of the two together, including a series of candid shots from a recent Grammys event, where they looked at one another with evident passion. Otherwise, for a pairing of such undeniable star power, they’ve kept things remarkably low-key. They’ve never publicly confirmed their relationship, they don’t walk the red carpet together, and there are no impromptu Instagram selfies to fill up their pages. By various accounts, Holmes and Foxx have been seeing each other for over five years now, but you’ll find little in the way of solid evidence to prove that rumour.
There’s an assumption in the world of celebrity that nothing can be kept secret. We still think of hordes of paparazzi banging on car doors and chasing celebs down the street, their vision blinded by the camera flashes. Some famous figures do undeniably live with that level of invasive force, but there have always been other figures at play to keep the ecosystem of celebrity running healthily. Navigate it well and your personal life can be wielded as effectively as any weapon. Do it with a partner or equal or greater levels of recognition, and you can be unstoppable. For a brief moment, Katie Holmes lived that life, but the lessons learned there were more efficiently applied in her current relationship.
(Photograph from Getty Images)
When Holmes first got together with international mega star Tom Cruise, the response was less enthusiasm and more bafflement. There was the age gap - he was 16 years her senior - the disparities in their public popularity, and then there was the entire charade of romance. Tom Cruise didn’t just want the world to know he was in love: He wanted to show the world he was in love like it was a scene from one of his movies. Between the lavish declarations of his feelings for Holmes, descriptions of their epic dates and that couch moment on Oprah, the performance began to feel like just that. Whether or not you bought it was beside the point, because everything was so over-the-top that even the most sentimental romanticists felt a tad embarrassed. No wonder so many thought it was all a joint publicity stunt for their respective movies of that Summer. After around three months together, Cruise proposed to Holmes in expectedly dramatic fashion, dropping the question at the top of the Eiffel Tower. A team of Hollywood’s best screenwriters could not have engineered a courtship so all-consuming in its brassy oddness.
Katie Holmes barely seemed to feature in her own relationship during these days. It seemed clear that she was Cruise’s supporting player, the underdeveloped heroine whose sole defining trait is to stand by her man as he saves her. Old classmates of Holmes claimed she’d always had a crush on Cruise, which added to the bombastic serendipity of it all. She had little to do in those early months beyond look utterly thrilled to be around Tom Cruise and maybe crouch a little to give him the illusion of height. The doe-eyed ingenue narrative could not have been clearer: Wasn’t she lucky to land the most famous man in the business? How did she do so well?
During this time, Cruise’s public persona took a few more unexpected hits. He began to talk more openly about his dedication to Scientology. The now infamous confrontation with Matt Lauer on Today, where he called him ‘glib’ for assuming Cruise didn’t know more about the psychiatric profession than a movie-star, put a major dent in his nice guy cover, especially when Brooke Shields can under his scrutiny for admitting to using anti-depressants. Cruise at his best in action-man mode is essentially a messianic figure whose power is undeniable. That doesn’t play so well when you’re just a dude promoting a film. Couple that with Holmes’s general quietness during their public romance, and the stirrings of ‘Free Katie’ began to bubble.
(Photograph from Getty Images)
Holmes’s pregnancy announcement came quickly after the engagement one, and her birth was said to fall on the first anniversary of her parents meeting. Suri Cruise wasn’t introduced to the world for another six months, wherein she made her debut in Vanity Fair. The preceding months were filled with gossip and rumours that stretched even Hollywood’s version of credibility: She was born with a disease, she was disfigured or seriously ill, Holmes didn’t actually give birth to her, and so on. They were all evidently silly ideas, but nothing seemed off the table with TomKat. This was a couple who just seemed off in some way. They were the uncanny celeb couple, bearing all the markers of one but somehow straining our own belief in the concept. When we all heard the story that claimed Holmes would have to give birth in complete silence, due to Scientology protocol, it just seemed natural to assume it was true. It made as much sense as anything else they did.
The Vanity Fair story that accompanied the inevitably OTT photo-shoot emphasized the pair as a true power couple, the parents of a new Hollywood generation. Even then, Cruise is still the star - his children from his marriage to Nicole Kidman feature prominently, he talks about always wanting to be a father, and his quietly donated charity funds are mentioned in contrast to the lucrative paycheque Shiloh Jolie-Pitt’s birth created. Everything is bigger here: Their Telluride home is huge, their family barbeques feature dozens of ice-cream options, everyone gathers to welcome Suri to the world. At times, the profile is even unabashedly corny (yes, Tom Cruise likes James Blunt’s teeth-rotting ballad, ‘You’re Beautiful’). You wonder if Cruise realises how ridiculous it all seems, or at least you wonder if he cares.
When the profile steps away from Cruise and back to Holmes, you start to get a real sense of how overwhelming it is to be Mrs Cruise. She takes the journalist to the side for a moment to express her frustration over the press intrusion and rumours that followed them from day one. It’s something, she notes, that Cruise is more used to than she is. Motherhood is a new defining moment for her, one she talks about with such joy, but it’s a heavy burden to bear when you’re still seen as the plus-one to your own husband.
(Photograph from Getty Images)
By the time the pair married in a Scientologist ceremony in Italy, surrounded by their closest celebrity friends, TomKat was a complete unit, which meant Cruise did the movie-star work and Holmes remained on the sidelines. That’s not to dismiss the labour of motherhood or a desire to be with one’s child. Yet the time she took off meant every acting role she took in the meantime, regardless of its quality, became a big deal. She never returned to playing Rachel Dawes in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series (Maggie Gyllenhaal took over the role), and instead, she was cast in a frivolous comedy called Mad Money. Usually, such a film would sink without a trace, but it suddenly became a hot media focus based purely on Holmes’s involvement. None of that helped it at the box office, but it helped form a new image around Holmes. She wasn’t an ‘actress’ in the traditional sense by this point: She was a celebrity. That meant she was almost universally dismissed in the roles she took over the next couple of years. Holmes was never an astounding actress, but pre-Cruise, she had put in some promising work in Thank You For Smoking and Pieces of April. Outside of broad roles, she had a knack for the quieter moments, all of which could have made her a real indie favourite. It’s hard to see how that would have continued while she was Mrs Cruise. Rumours insisted she only got acting roles because of her husband’s meddling, which only exacerbated those problems. The longer it persisted, the less Holmes seemed like her own person. Free Katie seemed less like a joke now. The public perception was that she didn’t have her own life: She was just an extension of Cruise’s.
Truthfully, we all under-estimated Katie Holmes, and nowhere was this more evident than when it was announced that she had filed for divorce in June 2012. After five and a half years of marriage, one where the public were involved from day one, it was over. Holmes filed for divorce in New York rather than Los Angeles, which gave her more control over which documents were sealed from the public and press. Doing so would have involved setting up residency in the state, which she had done so privately for the required length of time. Stories had started to reach the press, including People (who are hugely pro-celebrities and one of the most accurate gossip sources we have), that she’d been planning the ‘escape plan’ for weeks. Alongside her father, an attorney, she was said to have sprung the divorce on Cruise. There were stories of ‘switching out cell phones’ so nobody (read: Scientology) could reach her. Other stories claimed she was getting out in order to protect Suri from Scientology’s clutches. None of these stories painted Cruise as the bad guy. He was merely a tool of a much shadier and more insidious organisation. Scientology was the villain, and Holmes was the hero who got out of there with her kid before it was too late. Everything about the strategy was genius, and the press got every detail because someone wanted them to know it. For once, living out a public split seemed safer to do so with the press attention. Better that than Scientology, who remained immensely powerful at this point in time.
Post-TomKat Holmes was a much more muted form of celebrity, but one that Holmes seemed far better equipped to deal with. Eventually, press attention died down to the point where she became a solidly B-List figure, and Suri stopped being a paparazzi target in the way she seemed to be daily for the first 5 years of her life. Moreover, Holmes seemed to command a level of respect. She returned to solidly indie acting gigs, working regularly, but she seemed way more in control of her image and the press’s handling of it. She’ll never fully escape the stranglehold of Scientology, or at least the mythic version of it, yet getting out when she did made everyone suddenly get Katie Holmes. No longer was she the meek puppet wife of tabloid lore. She was a warrior woman, up against the ultimate villain. Tom Cruise barely featured in the following years, with further stories claiming he hasn’t seen his daughter since the divorce. Cruise has cooled his jets as a public Scientologist and notably sidesteps questions about his public life in the carefully planned interviews he does give, but the narrative still feels pro-Katie.
One rumour persisted once the divorce went through. Gossip sites, none of them especially reputable, started to claim that Cruise had added a clause to the papers that would ban Holmes from publicly dating anyone for five years. Usually, when you hear a rumour like this, you roll your eyes because even Hollywood isn’t that petty. Yet the moment Scientology becomes involved, all cards are seemingly in play. Once you believe in aliens and e-meters and a conspiracy of psychiatrists, what’s a minor divorce clause in comparison? It seemed perfectly reasonable to assume Holmes’s sudden veil of secrecy over her rumoured private life was a Xenu-mandated order than, you know, a real desire for privacy.
What we know about Holmes’s relationship with Jamie Foxx is very little. We have conjecture, rumour and a sprinkling of PR-friendly headlines. The handful of images we had were grainy and hardly confirmation, like one of the pair holding hands in what seemed to be a recording studio. More crucially, their respective publicists denied a relationship, and did so for several years. That didn’t stop the rumours - or one of Foxx’s own friends confirming the pairing before quickly pedalling back on her claim - and it only fuelled our hunger for more of the couple.
Foxx seemed like the polar opposite of Cruise. The Oscar winning actor, comedian and musician was rambunctious, charismatic, spontaneous and a bit of a playboy. Unlike Cruise, he seemed to exude real sexual chemistry, and you got the feeling you could actually hold down a conversation with him. He’d been in trouble with the law, he told off-colour jokes, and he talked about experiencing racism in the industry. Where Cruise was an icon, Foxx seemed like an actual person, and in the handful of pictures we had of him with Holmes, they had legitimate heat.
Holmes and Foxx did make a public announcement of sorts, but in the savviest manner possible. There were no couch jumps, no talk show declarations, and no red-carpet snogs. Instead, last September, the pair were photographed walking hand in hand on the beach in Malibu. It was casual, seemingly candid but spectacularly well calculated. It looked spontaneous but hit every PR button on the pad. Five years of silence then suddenly these very public snaps? Of course we all thought of that alleged contract. It felt like a sure-fire signal from Holmes: She was in control, and always had been.
Let’s put the divorce contract rumours to the side and consider the other very realistic possibility of the Holmes-Foxx relationship. Here’s a woman who went through the fire and flames of the most public celebrity relationship of the century that wasn’t nicknamed Brangelina. It wholly consumed her identity and made her as much a brand as a person. She found herself tied to a shady organization with frequently reported ties to blackmail, extortion and much worse. Her career took a hit and the narrative of a trapped woman formed quicker than anyone could refute it. To many, she was more an accessory than a wife, and to others, there was never an ounce of true love or passion between the pair. After all that, wouldn’t you want to keep your next relationship locked down tighter than Fort Knox?
I personally don’t think we’ll see Holmes and Foxx doing the typically public celeb couple spiel. Don’t expect to see them on the red carpet holding hands or posing for Vanity Fair any time soon. The less they broadcast their relationship, the more they can control it, and so far, the headlines for the pair have been glowing across the board. People seem to be rooting for Holmes and Foxx in a way they never did with her and Cruise. FoxxKat doesn’t have the same ring to it, but it does seem to make a whole lot more sense. Whatever the case, I think it’s safe to say that Katie Holmes is one who should never be under-estimated.
(Header photograph from Getty Images)