Despite rumors of marital strife, the two "seem very close" insists one of Ritchie's friends

By Eunice Oh
August 01, 2008 11:00 AM

In the past few weeks, Madonna and husband Guy Ritchie have endured intense speculation about the status of their marriage. But the couple isn’t affected by the media scrutiny, says one pal – in fact, they completely ignore it.

“I know for a fact [that] they don’t read anything,” actor Vinnie Jones – a longtime Ritchie pal – told PEOPLE Thursday at Hollywood screening of his new film Hell Ride. “No one’s getting at them.”

Jones – who appeared in the Guy Ritchie-directed Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch – discounts reports claiming the couple’s marriage is on the rocks.

“It seems nowadays people can write about what they want and get away with it,” he said. “It’s quite bizarre.”

Gossip about the two – who are rarely photographed together – reached a fever pitch last month, when papers began linking Madonna with baseball star Alex Rodriguez. (She has emphatically denied allegations of an affair.) Ritchie recently told PEOPLE his marriage is fine.

As for the couple and their three children – Lourdes, 11, Rocco, 7, and David, 2 – they “seem very close,” Jones said. “That’s why all of this crap that goes about just amazes me.”