Melissa Hebeler / E! Illustration
Hollywood is a small town, but it just got even smaller. The A-list isn’t a new concept in Tinseltown and it’s no secret that there’s a select group of people who can considered to be stars of the highest caliber. But what people might not realize is that the A-list is basically one exclusive club of interconnected actors and actresses—it’s like that old game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, only Kevin Bacon isn’t actually invited this time because it’s just that exclusive.
After some very exhaustive research it’s easy to come to the conclusion that, in fact, the group of actors at the top of their craft is so insular that they basically make up one big movie cast. It’s no wonder that all of the biggest stars in Hollywood are such good friends, because they seem to spend all their time starring in movies with each other. See what will now be referred to as The Inner Circle for proof.
Let’s begin where pretty much everything in the movie industry begins: With Julia Roberts. She’s America’s Sweetheart but she’s also the glue that holds the entire circle together. She’s starred in some of the biggest romantic comedies of our time (a short moment to honor My Best Friend’s Wedding, please) but one of her most impressive roles was breaking into the boys club that was Ocean’s Eleven. It was also there, inside that gritty casino, that she became forever linked professionally with one Brad Pitt.
It’s been 15 years since that not-so-ragtag crew of professional con artists, with their shockingly wide shirt collars and questionable highlights, took over pop culture, and Mr. Pitt has gone on to have tons of hits and even more costars. They haven’t all risen to the level of the A-list, though, but Jessica Chastain is certainly an exception. The two starred alongside each other in The Tree of Life, a surreal 2011 drama about a family in Texas.
The actress has had quite the stellar decade, which was marked most prominently by her role in the multi-Oscar-nominated The Martian. As an astronaut she worked side-by-side with Matt Damon (who was also in Ocean’s Eleven, it should be noted). Damon tends to gravitate towards casts packed with testosterone (see the Bourne series, Saving Private Ryan and The Departed for proof), but many will do well to remember his turn in Contagion. He played a grieving husband facing the worst flu epidemic the world could dream up and he’s stuck in this germophobe’s hell with none other than Kate Winslet.
Yes, that’s right. As much as those Titanic shippers would like us to forget, she’s had other male costars beyond just dear Leo. But since this is Hollywood and since everything is exclusive, let’s focus on the fact that in both the aforementioned luxury liner action flick and the gut-wrenching Revolutionary Road, she collaborated with Leonardo DiCaprio, who has also worked with the more recently-minted member of the A-list, Amy Adams. They starred in Catch Me If You Can, which followed the story of the man who impersonated a Pan Am pilot, a lawyer and a doctor, among others.
Adams herself has had quite the impressive career. She holds a whopping five Oscar nominations, including for the star-studded American Hustle, and a very painful snub for her time in Arrival—both movies in which she starred opposite Jeremy Renner. And for anyone who’s wondering whether the actor can truly be counted among the upper echelon of Hollywood exclusivity, just let his collaborations with so many on this list be the answer. Because in American Hustle he also formed a professional partnership with Queen of the A-list herself, Jennifer Lawrence.
When people hear the name Jennifer Lawrence they usually think of, well, falling down at award shows perhaps. But they also think of Bradley Cooper, because they’ve now starred in four different flicks together—that would be American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook, Joy and the little-known Serena. (Seriously, look it up).
With that history it’s a wonder Cooper has managed to work with any other big stars in Hollywood, but the year 2015 brought Aloha and Emma Stone. Stone has herself an infamous Hollywood repeat costar in Ryan Gosling—they’ve been in Crazy Stupid Love, Gangster Squad and La La Land. Between those collaborations and the still-obsessed-over pairing with Rachel McAdams, most Gosling fans forget that he has actually shared screen time with one of Hollywood’s biggest darlings: Sandra Bullock.
The year was 2002 and the film was Murder by Numbers. Gosling plays a terrifying psychotic high school student who sets out to plot the “perfect” murder and Bullock plays a homicide detective who sets out to catch him. We didn’t say this was their most notable work, okay? That brings us to perhaps our favorite work of Sandra’s—and no, we’re not talking about The Proposal; despite his best Deadpool efforts Ryan Reynolds isn’t quite to the caliber of this group—the hauntingly beautiful and claustrophobic Gravity.
It’s a tale as old as time: Woman goes to space, Woman gets detached from spaceship, woman navigates through every unfortunate circumstance known to man to pilot herself back to Earth. And she did it all while spending what we imagine was countless hours in front of a green screen, pretending to be lost in space. But she got to do it with George Clooney, so how bad could it have been really? And, as everyone knows, Clooney was in Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Money Monster all with…Julia Roberts.
The circle is complete and now so is your knowledge of Hollywood’s Inner Circle.