Are they a couple? If they are, did that happen during or after the time they spent making a movie together? And if it is true or was true or might be true, how long will they last?
These are the nosy, rude, intrusive, unfair, wildly speculative, and completely titillating watercooler questions that an ever-widening global mob of gossips has been asking about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie ever since they started filming Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a $120 million spy-versus-spousal-spy spectacle that finally opens, on June 10, after a long and bumpy road to final cut. It's not the first time news of a much-rumored big-movie romance has gone supernova. But what's now being branded the saga of ''Brangelina'' sets a new, 21st-century benchmark a sort of perfect publicity storm centered on two beautiful people whom the public is treating as daydream playthings.
Pitt and Jolie declined to be interviewed for this article (though Jolie did tell EW earlier this year that while acting out the marital travails of her character, she drew on life experiences with two ex-husbands, Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton: ''For me, it was a lot of thinking about old relationships I had marriages I had and thinking, Oh, that's the point where I wanted to kill that person.'') But another key player in the maelstrom did agree to talk to us at length: Mr. & Mrs. Smith's director, Doug Liman (Swingers, The Bourne Identity). We caught up with him for a freewheeling talk about early casting hiccups, the perils of confessing cute nicknames, the nesting instincts of Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie's way with knives.