Hollywood's Leading Ladies Break Up With Style

Published February 20, 2004

| NYPost.com

A radiant Uma Thurman (search) has a brand-new love -- hot hotelier André Balazs. Sofia Coppola's career is on fire. And Mary-Louise Parker just triumphed at the Golden Globes.

It's hard to believe each of these Hollywood lovelies just endured bitter breakups, having been variously dumped, cheated on and frozen out.

Thurman separated from her hubby Ethan Hawke (search) after he allegedly took up with a young co-star on a film set, Parker was dumped by her longtime beau, Billy Crudup while she was pregnant with his child, and Coppola ended her marriage to director Spike Jonze (search).

This triumphant trio of women, who have become the new role models for jilted wives and girlfriends, has a lot to teach the rest of us, according to relationship experts.

"The best revenge is to be immediately successful in all areas of your life, which may or may not include an Oscar nomination for us civilians," said Lynn Harris (search), 34, author of "Breakup Girl to the Rescue."

While most of people don't have access to stylists or hot designers, regular women, too, tend to go on a post-breakup offensive -- be it getting a fabulous new haircut, committing to an intense new workout or launching a new project.

"I think pretty much every time [after a split] there is this 'running with the wolves' period, which can co-exist with the natural sadness." said Harris. "All of a sudden - presto! - something awesome happens in their career."

Recent history is full of resilient women who've outshone their exes.

Actress Claire Bloom wrote the best-seller "Leaving a Doll's House," a bitter memoir of her life with author Philip Roth after their split, while J.K. Rowling produced the phenomenally successful "Harry Potter" books after separating from her Portuguese journalist husband.

And then there's Nicole Kidman, who has emerged from the shadow of her former husband, Tom Cruise, to become one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood.

While the Teflon trio of Parker, Coppola and Thurman have been dominating the spotlight, strutting the red carpet in stunning designer gowns, their exes have receded meekly into the background.

Coppola's formerly ubiquitous ex, Jonze, who directed "Adaptation," has virtually vanished, while Ethan Hawke - who allegedly cheated on Thurman with a 22-year-old - has been spotted moping around New York City and sulking on the set of his new movie, "Billy Dead."

Women often tend to handle separations more productively than men, said Britton Payne, author of "Dumped: When You Are Unexpectedly Single."

"Because men feel that society has put them in a more emotionally controlled place, they use certain ways of dealing -- being angry with [their former partner], getting smashed, projecting their anger on to all women," he said "Women are more inclined to talk about it with their friends, to work it out emotionally."

There's no one single right way to rebound from a breakup, according to experts - it's just a matter of finding a path that's right for you.

"We, as civilians, can take our pick," said Harris. "You can say, 'I'll do it the Uma way!' or 'the Sofia way.' But what I think they've all done is they've all been extremely dignified."

Parker, for example, turned to humor - not the bitter, sarcastic brand, but simple, genuine charm, when she cracked a joke about her voluptuous post-pregnancy figure in front of 26 million viewers at last month's Golden Globes where she won for her role in HBO's "Angels in America."

While accepting a Golden Globe last month, Parker got the evening's biggest laugh when she told the crowd she'd win a $1,000 bet from her "West Wing" co-star Janel Moloney by thanking her newborn son, William, for "making my boobs look so good in this dress."

"There's humor that is really only thinly veiled hurt feelings, which makes people laugh uncomfortably," said Harris, "and there's humor that shows you've still got it."

For her part, Coppola immersed herself into promoting her movie, "Lost in Translation," winning an historic Oscar nomination in the process along with two Golden Globes.

"It's good to throw yourself into your work if it reminds you that you still have all these strengths and skills without what's-his-name," said Harris.

And Thurman, Harris said, "never really let us see her sweat....It's not throwing an 'I hate John' party, it's not seeking revenge. It's holding your head high when you feel low.

"Classy feels as classy does - especially if your ex has done something unclassy such as cheating on you."

Harris advises taking further tips from the stars: Don't badmouth your ex in public, try not to go out in public "looking like crap," and put on a game face.

"It's not like you have anything to prove to him. It's just that he was a part of your life - but there's a lot left."

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2004/02/20/hollywood-leading-ladies-break-up-with-style