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Ella Purnell didn’t get her career from having dated Brad Pitt. But there was a time when an ugly rumor claimed that and more.

From Yellowjackets to starring on Amazon Prime’s spectacular hit, Fallout, Ella Purnell is an unstoppable talent.

But, in 2016, she was a 21-year-old actress who had just won the lead role in a television adaptation. And the Brangelina divorce had scarcely begun.

Brad Pitt was the producer. Which made rumors about the two dating at the time disgusting on multiple levels.

Ella Purnell as Lucy in a bridal gown and veil on the series premiere of Amazon Prime's Fallout series.
On the first episode of Amazon Prime’s Fallout series, Ella Purnell’s character, Lucy, is unlucky in love. To say the least. (Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video)

Ella Purnell never dated Brad Pitt

In 2016, just after Angelina Jolie filed to divorce Brad Pitt after alleged domestic abuse escalated during a fateful family flight, certain tabloids seemed eager to ignore the obvious cause for the divorce.

There seemed to be little interest in covering the former heartthrob’s alleged wrongdoing. With so little information available before the prolonged Jolie-Pitt legal battle, it was apparently easier to search for more salacious causes.

A 21-year-old actress working on a show — the TV adaptation of Stephanie Danler’s Sweetbitter — with Brad Pitt as a producer was, it seems, a target for rumors. That’s how Ella Purnell briefly became part of the narrative.

Brad Pitt in November of 2023.
Brad Pitt walks in the Pitlane prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Las Vegas on November 17, 2023. (Photo Credit: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Ella Purnell spoke to The Independent in a recent interview. Obviously, she has been promoting Amazon Prime Video’s critically acclaimed Fallout (one of the best video game adaptations on the planet), on which she stars as Lucy MacLean. But, naturally, the Pitt rumors from nearly eight years earlier came up.

“It was my first job in America so that was really scary and it was my first time going to New York,” Purnell described.

She recalled when she saw the tabloid rumors. “I was like, ‘That’s so funny.’ I sent it to a few of my friends [as a joke]. And then I went to bed and woke up the next day, and it was f–king everywhere. I had family members texting me to congratulate me.”

Ella Purnell as Lucy MacLean and Aaron Moten as Maximus on Fallout, shown crossing a bridge slowly with their arms raised in the air.
Fallout’s Lucy MacLean (Ella Purnell) learns a lot of difficult lessons about life on the surface during the premiere season of the Amazon Prime Video series. (Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video)

Ella Purnell soon regretted having even joked about the Brad Pitt rumor

She knew that it was fake. Her friends knew that it was fake. But weirdos and professional creeps were running with the story anyway.

“I was terrified. I was really upset,” she expressed. Ella continued: “I felt like I couldn’t leave the house and I felt embarrassed.”

She recalled: “I read all the comments saying, ‘She’s a little slut. She’s a gold-digger. She wants to get famous. She’s a homewrecker.’ Not one person was saying, ‘Shame on Brad for dating practically a child.'”

Brad Pitt in July of 2023.
Brad Pitt arrives for the Formula One British Grand Prix at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone, central England on July 9, 2023. (Photo Credit: ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

At the time of Fallout‘s premiere and her interview, Ella Purnell was 27. Brad Pitt was 60 — more than twice her age. In 2016, their age difference was even more dramatically pronounced.

And, as Purnell highlighted during her interview, it’s not that she was literally a child at the time. She was a (very young) adult.

But rather, these rumors implied that he’d slept with her through his role as a producer to give her the job … yet these same rumors portrayed her as the wrongdoer in this fictitious situation.

Ella Purnell portrays Lucy MacLean on Fallout during a visit to Vault 4.
Lucy MacLean (Ella Purnell) came from an egalitarian meritocracy in Fallout. She spent her first season as a fish out of water. (Image Credit: Amazon Prime Video)

Ella Purnell wishes that she’d quashed the Brad Pitt rumors at the time

“Essentially, what the tabloids were implying was that I’d only gotten the [Sweetbitter] job because I slept with the producer,” she lamented. “This would never happen to the 21-year-old male lead of a show.”

Purnell added: “I wished I had “nipped [the rumor] in the bud quickly to say, A) I’ve never met him. B) Use my platform to make a political stance.”

Fortunately, within a few weeks, the rumor died and people moved on. More people dislike Brad Pitt these days, while Purnell’s star is on the rise. Slowly, things seem to be moving in the right direction.