Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes blush like middle-schoolers, raving about each other to anyone who’ll listen. “It’s gonna happen, man. It’ll happen,” Cruise declared to ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY about the couple’s marriage prospects. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play it just the opposite, evading all questions about their relationship: “You and I both know I could make a thousand statements right now and it doesn’t matter,” Jolie told NBC’s Ann Curry last week. Matthew McConaughey and Penélope Cruz take a middle path, acknowledging their romance but appearing in no hurry to make it legal after 14 months together. “Why should we try and cover things up?” asks Cruz. “We are both single adults in our 30s. We have a great relationship,” she told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.
Three celeb couples, three different spins on the dating game. If you’re a gambler, however, don’t put your money on any of them to make it to the altar. Skepticism about Hollywood romances leads Vegas oddsmakers to make dour predictions. Kevin Manning of Sports-Interaction.com gives McConaughey and Cruz the best shot, at 10:1, putting Cruise and Holmes at 11:1 and Pitt and Jolie at 25:1. A PE0PLE.com poll conducted last week gives Cruise and Holmes a 50 percent chance of marrying, compared with a 33 percent chance for McConaughey and Cruz and only a 27 percent chance for Pitt and Jolie. So, we ask, can these couples beat the odds?
Tom & Katie
Though they’ve been publicly dating a mere eight weeks, they’ve rhapsodized over each other on countless TV shows, spreading the word to everyone from Oprah‘s daytime devotees to the young viewers who tuned in to the MTV Movie Awards. “I want to share the rest of our lives together,” Cruise proclaimed on The Tonight Show June 8. The next night, David Letterman told Holmes that a Tom-Katie union “would be bigger than that Donald Trump wedding!”
The couple parted ways last weekend—Holmes, 26, jetted off for Europe to attend Batman Begins premieres; Cruise, 42, headed to Tokyo for a War of the Worlds opening—counting the minutes until a hoped-for reunion in Berlin before week’s end. “I am so in love with Tom, and when I can’t be with him I feel quite sad,” Holmes told the London Evening Standard. “He means everything to me. He is the smartest, most amazing man I have ever met.” Holmes parked her car at his Beverly Hills mansion; their families have met; and the big hurdle, Cruise’s devotion to Scientology, turns out to be no hurdle at all. Asked if she was embracing Scientology at her film’s London premiere, she said, “Yes, I am, and I’m really excited about it,” adding that she’s begun taking classes (see page 52). Asked about a future together, Holmes’s friend Henry Penzi tells PEOPLE he “could see it working out and being good for both of them.”
Matthew & Penélope
Seemingly the odd couple—he the macho Texan, she the Spanish-born sophisticate—they have a balanced relationship by Hollywood standards. Since becoming fast friends on the set of their desert adventure Sahara (a romance heated up during the final weeks of filming, when she invited him to her birthday celebration in April 2004), Cruz, 31, and McConaughey, 36, have been staying private. “I have no problems in recognizing I have something with Matthew,” Cruz said last fall, “but it is something I prefer not to talk about.”
Though she’s currently in Spain to begin filming the Pedro Almódovar movie Volver while he’s filming Failure to Launch in New Orleans, the relationship “really works,” says Sahara costar William H. Macy. “The heat between them is real and legitimate. You can see it on the screen and in real life.” Recently Cruz has talked about her maternal ambitions, revealing that 10 years ago she tried to adopt in Spain but was turned down because she was too young and unmarried. Now she says she thinks about adopting “every day.” She also just bought a $3.5 million home in the Hollywood Hills with plenty of room for a nursery. First, though, Cruz and McConaughey will reteam on the romantic drama The Loop. That can’t be bad for their real-life love story.
Brad & Angelina
They flew into Mexico City June 8 on the same jet, but the newly blond actor and his leather-clad leading lady went to great trouble to arrive at that city’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith premiere in separate SUVs—his black, hers white. There, Pitt, 41, and Jolie, 30, repeated a strategy they had refined earlier in New York and L.A.: no interviews together, no getting close enough to be captured in one paparazzi frame, no questions about their personal lives. Despite their efforts to dissuade screaming throngs from thinking they’re more than “just friends,” intrigue has never been higher. The film opened No. 1 at the box office, proving that while their nickname maybe Brangelina, their movie is no Gigli. And now that the public has seen the onscreen heat for themselves, there’s no denying that what director Doug Liman describes as an “immediate chemistry” is for real.
While Pitt’s divorce from Jennifer Aniston won’t be final until September at the earliest, the actor’s rapport with Jolie’s 3-year-old son Maddox and Pitt’s growing commitment to her cause—third-world poverty—could continue to draw the couple together. Jolie, who has shied away from long-term commitments, seems to be warming to the prospect of a partner. “I’ve been analyzing what [a marriage] is,” she told Ann Curry, adding she’s been thinking “what a nice thing it would be to have a teammate.”
Whether these couples will be winners or losers is impossible to say. But bet on one thing: There’ll be a photo finish.
Joanna Powell. Tom Cunneff, Michael Fleeman, Kwala Mandel, Sandra Marquez, Brenda Rodriguez in Los Angeles and Debra Lewis in New York City