Their story began as a picture-perfect couple, young actors showing equal promise and a matching, almost impossible, beauty.
The deal was sealed with a New Year’s Eve proposal delivered via a Cartier engagement ring set into an ice cube in a Mojito cocktail.
‘Angel, will you do the marrying thing?’ were the fond words chosen that night in Cuba.
It’s ended now with a howl of pain, and accusations of lies, ‘gaslighting’ and ‘mental torture’ made via Twitter in the small hours.
Indeed, the drama surrounding the sudden collapse of Ioan Gruffudd’s 13-year-marriage to actress Alice Evans would scarcely be out of place in one of the twisted domestic dramas he has been starring in recently.
Alice Evans and Ioan Gruffudd arrive with their two daughters Ella and Elsie at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres on May 5, 2018 in Hollywood. The abrupt end of their 20-year relationship, which began after they were cast together in 102 Dalmatians, follows a long period apart last year
Welshman Gruffudd — who came to fame in TV’s Hornblower — played the superficially charming rapist Andrew Earlham in Liar, ITV’s smash hit drama of 2017.
Publicity posters asked: ‘Whose story do you believe?’
That question was being asked again yesterday after Evans, a former model- turned-actress and mother of their two daughters, announced the news on Twitter on Monday. She said: ‘Sad news. My beloved husband/soulmate of 20 years, Ioan Gruffudd, has announced he is to leave his family, starting next week.
‘Me and our young daughters girls are very confused and sad. We haven’t been given a reason except that he “no longer loves me”. I’m so sorry.’
The tweet later disappeared — and Evans extraordinarily claimed that her estranged husband, 47, had been the one to delete it.
Alice and Ioan during the Amazing Grace premiere in London. Gruffudd has spent three long spells in Australia filming the TV drama Harrow, in which he plays a divorced forensic pathologist
Alice took to Twitter on Monday evening to share the 'sad news', stating the Welsh star, 47, said he 'no longer loves her'
The statement was later deleted before Alice sent another tweet reading: 'Hi there. I didn't delete the tweet from a few hours ago about him leaving. He did. From my account'
She defended her messages in a duo of exchanges with followers underneath her tweet
She wrote: ‘Hi there. I didn’t delete the tweet from a few hours ago about him leaving. He did. From my account . . .
‘And hell yes when I am being gaslit and mentally tortured then hell yes I will wash my linen in public.’
She added the tweet had been written to help her accept that the marriage was over, adding: ‘Six months of harassment: yes/no/maybe. I cannot live like this anymore’. She told another follower: ‘I have lost my mind.’
The abrupt end of their 20-year relationship, which began after they were cast together in 102 Dalmatians, follows a long period apart last year.
Evans posted a picture of the two of them cuddling up reunited in August with the fond caption: ‘He’s back and he’s grumpier than ever (shhh!)’
Alice and Ioan in Los Angeles in May 2015. Ioan was also away from the family in last spring with Evans posting a picture of their daughters, Ella, 11, and Elsie, seven, welcoming him home in March
Around the time of the messages she posted a snap on Instagram detailing her desire to have red hair
Gruffudd has spent three long spells in Australia filming the TV drama Harrow, in which he plays a divorced forensic pathologist.
He was in Brisbane over the summer of 2020, making the third series with co-stars including Anna Lise Phillips, who plays his ex wife and Ella Newton, 30, who plays his daughter.
When he returned, all seemed well —on the surface at least.
Evans posted a picture of the two of them cuddling up reunited in August with the fond caption: ‘He’s back and he’s grumpier than ever (shhh!).’
He was also away from the family in last spring with Evans posting a picture of their daughters, Ella, 11, and Elsie, seven, welcoming him home in March.
One friend of Evans, who has spent time with the family in Los Angeles, said: ‘Obviously there is a lot of trouble there and obviously he’s keeping a lid on it. She’s probably very upset to go so far publicly with it.
The couple met on the set of 102 Dalmatians in 2000 (pictured), when Alice was in a relationship with Pablo Picasso's grandson Olivier
Alice posted this photograph to her Instagram with the caption: 'Shhh! I'll have to take this down as soon as he sees it'
Pictured in June 2013. Ioan told The Guardian last February: ‘I think we’ve struggled the past four years, making time for each other, because physically we’re apart’
‘There is a feeling that there’s probably another person involved.
‘Alice is quite a smart cookie, so her going public might be her way of trying to smoke somebody out, if you get my drift, and create a bit of scandal to expose any infidelity.’
Another friend said that she was ‘not at all surprised’ to hear the marriage was imploding so spectacularly because Gruffudd has a serious reputation for flirting and Evans’ misery has been all too apparent.
Separations due to work have been blamed for tensions in the romance.
Ioan told The Guardian last February: ‘I think we’ve struggled the past four years, making time for each other, because physically we’re apart.’
Another friend said that she was ‘not at all surprised’ to hear the marriage was imploding so spectacularly because Gruffudd has a serious reputation for flirting and Evans’ misery has been all too apparent. The couple are pictured in 2011
However, there were other significant factors, including Evans going public with her experiences with Hollywood monster Harvey Weinstein — even though Gruffudd initially urged her not to.
In 2017, when the first accusations started to emerge about the now-disgraced movie mogul, Evans said Weinstein had asked her for a kiss and a grope after meeting her at a party. When she refused, he pointedly wished her boyfriend well in his career. Neither of them ever worked in a Weinstein film again.
Her searing, heartfelt tweets
SAD news. My beloved husband/soulmate of 20 years, Ioan Gruffudd, has announced he is to leave his family, starting next week. Me and our young daughters are very confused and sad. We haven't been given a reason except that he 'no longer loves me'. I'm so sorry.
10.25pm January 25th
Hi there. I didn't delete the tweet from a few hours ago about him leaving. He did. From my account. And hell yes when I am being gaslit and mentally tortured then hell yes I will wash my linen in public.
10.41am January 26th
She recalled that Gruffudd ‘begged’ her not to go public, that he was ‘scared’ and ‘had heard rumours about Harvey having people followed’, he ‘pointed out that we had no other way of generating income. If we were blacklisted, how would we support ourselves and our two children?’
She went ahead anyway, recalling: ‘To be honest, I barely heard him.’
Gruffudd later went on record to say that he was ‘extremely proud’ of her for adding her voice to those accusing Weinstein of using his power to try to pressure young women into sexual relationships.
Eyebrows were also raised when Gruffudd admitted last year that he puts on tinted moisturiser, make-up and setting powder before he leaves the house. He said he was fed up with looking bad in selfies with fans.
When they met, Evans was already well-known. She was living in Paris with Pablo Picasso’s grandson, socialite Olivier Picasso, and they were a fixture in cafe society. An incandescent beauty, who spoke perfect French, she was known as ‘la belle Anglaise’ and nicknamed ‘Miss Cocktail’ by gossip columnists.
Olivier would give her the Gucci and Prada catalogues every season and say: ‘Right I want you to tick things off, especially the shoes, because the shoes go very quickly.’ Instead of being charmed, she found it ‘very claustrophobic’.
Evans met Gruffudd, the son of two teachers, on a movie set and romance blossomed. Born in South Wales, his grandparents ran an amateur dramatic group in Cardiff. His first role was in Welsh soap Pobol Y Cwm. He went on to have a small role in the films Wilde and Titanic before achieving fame in ITV’s Napoleonic series Hornblower in 1998.
At first Evans dismissed the brooding Welshman as boyfriend material, being two years her junior. (Records appear to show she was born in August 1968 and is 52 and five years Gruffudd’s senior. However her date of birth is generally given as August 1971, which would make her 49.)
Ioan and Alice's daughters were conceived through IVF after discovering Alice had a low antral follicle count at the age of 38 (pictured in January 2020)
Evans met Gruffudd, the son of two teachers, on a movie set and romance blossomed. Born in South Wales, his grandparents ran an amateur dramatic group in Cardiff. Pictured in 2011
Nevertheless, her engagement to Picasso was broken off, and she moved into a flat in Kilburn, North West London, with Gruffudd and his best pal Matthew Rhys.
Gruffudd said: ‘It wasn’t love at first sight, but it grew by working together and being around each other. The day before we met, Alice’s mum died and her life had been turned upside down.’
It certainly had, and the signs of her trauma were still deeply apparent when she refused to attend her father’s subsequent remarriage to stepmother Catherine.
In Gruffudd, however, she found stability. He once said: ‘Until I got married I didn’t think it was possible to elevate our relationship any higher, I thought it was already perfect. But marriage did elevate it.’
The couple left it until Evans was 37 to decide to try to start a family, but there were problems.
Evans said: ‘The whole of my 38th year was spent reading studies about fertility, taking my morning temperature, planning ovulation graphs, standing on my head after sex and fastidiously avoiding tea, coffee, alcohol, pineapple pizza and anything else I’d read might possibly prevent pregnancy.’
Gruffudd joined in by becoming teetotal to try to aid their chances. The couple considered adoption before opting for IVF.
In 2009, they had daughter Ella. Elsie arrived in September 2013 after eight more gruelling rounds of treatment.
She wrote: ‘I know how lucky I am. I won the lottery. I get to kiss goodnight to the two most precious human beings I’ve ever met. My goal now is to get the word out. Don’t wait until it’s too late.’
They welcomed their first child after one round of IVF, while their youngest girl arrived after eight rounds of treatment (pictured in May 2020)
In Gruffudd (pictured), however, she found stability. He once said: ‘Until I got married I didn’t think it was possible to elevate our relationship any higher, I thought it was already perfect. But marriage did elevate it’
Around this time Gruffudd, known for his roles in Fantastic 4, suffered a career slump. His TV series Ringer was axed after one series, as was his next big hope, TV drama Forever.
He said in 2017: ‘I didn’t work for more than two years. I sat on the couch and waited for work to come in. I got depressed, went into the abyss. I know what it’s like when the phone doesn’t ring. It’s the loneliest feeling in the world.’
He said of his slump: ‘You ride to the top and come crashing down. The worst thing you can do when you’re feeling like that is go to one of these auditions. You really don’t want to come across as desperate so I’ve been working with a psychologist to help me overcome that.’
And overcome it he did, and his career began to pick up. The pair moved to LA in 2003, where Gruffudd described their life as ‘paradise.’
They have a pool in their back garden and views of the waving palms, plus friends including singer Robbie Williams and socialite Lady Victoria Hervey.
There were interviews in recent months to promote his work and he spoke of his ambitions to direct, never failing to credit his wife for her support: ‘She is a force of nature, my wife,’ he said, adding: ‘In my opinion, she is the real star of our relationship.’ He told another interviewer: ‘I wouldn’t have advanced nearly as much if I hadn’t had this relationship.’
Yet, behind the scenes, it would seem other problems were developing, as Evans, who appeared in The Vampire Diaries, was eclipsed by her husband.
While Gruffudd was tactful about the extent to which his acting career had come to outshine hers, the gulf was plain to see.
Ioan previously gushed about their strong bond (pictured in January 2020)
Around this time Gruffudd, known for his roles in Fantastic 4, suffered a career slump. His TV series Ringer was axed after one series, as was his next big hope, TV drama Forever. Pictured, Gruffudd as Hornblower
Social circle: Alice frequently updates fans with images of her family and credits Piers Morgan and his wife Celia Walden among her close friends (pictured in August 2019)
She — an accomplished actress — found herself resigned to the domestic scene, upcycling mirrors and bedside tables and house-training their puppy, who arrived in September last year.
Judging by her complaints of ‘mental torture’ over the past six months, it would seem that Evans was now the one suffering from lack of self-esteem — a sad lack of confidence from a still remarkably beautiful woman.
During this period, she posted an increasing number of selfies, in which she seemingly sought praise or reassurance about that beauty from her 51,000 Instagram followers — posting images of herself heavily made up and also apparently on her own.
‘Night night kiddos! Love you,’ she wrote in July. Late on Monday evening, in the middle of those tweets about her marriage being finished, she found time to post a picture of how she would look with red hair.
Alice is pictured with Downton Abbey actress Joanne Froggatt in June 2018
Perhaps significantly, she has toyed with reverting to her natural brunette in the past but never did because she said: ‘Ioan prefers me blonde.’
That’s not to say that Evans hasn’t longed to get back into work on set.
As she wrote in January this year on Twitter: ‘You need to hustle until you can barely breathe and then hustle some more.
‘Nothing is guaranteed.’
The actress acknowledged in 2020: ‘I had done a lot of work, after my babies were born, on my own self-esteem.
‘Yes, the professional hits were still disappointing, but they wouldn’t drag me down.’
One thing seems certain. She will need to draw on that resilience more than ever now.