Somebody sent me a photograph of my husband of 14 years, the actor Ioan Gruffudd this week.
I didn’t really look at it very closely at first — he was eating an ice cream on a bench in the South of France, where he’s shooting at the moment. He looked happy. I felt glad he was happy, even though we haven’t spoken to each other by phone or in person in almost 11 months.
I was about to move on, but then I noticed the caption. It was from his own Instagram, which was odd because he hardly ever posts. And his comment was: ‘Thank you for making me smile again.’
Huh? My mind went blank for a second. Then I realised he was sitting next to a young girl I’d never seen before. She was tagged in the post @iambiancawallace. Then I got that feeling. The feeling nobody in a relationship — even one that’s seen better days —wants to feel: My God. They are a couple. He has a girlfriend! But, he’s my husband…
Devastated: Alice Evans and her husband Ioan Gruffudd split this year after 20 years together and here, the actress, 50, gives a first-hand account of breakdown of her marriage
Who was this girl?! I’d never seen her face. Never heard her name. I did what any normal(ish) person would do — I went straight to Google.
Apparently the aspiring actress Bianca Wallace had worked on Ioan’s Australian show, Harrow, as an extra. For at least the last two seasons. My mouth went dry and I felt like I was going to throw up as I suddenly realised where she was: the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, where my husband was staying for his six-month French shoot.
I tapped her Instagram link and there she was in a tiny bikini which revealed a body not unlike Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. Suddenly, an awful lot of things began to fall into place in a very short time…
I flipped open my laptop and opened Twitter.
‘So it turns out that my husband, after two years of telling me I’m a bad person and I’m not exciting and he no longer wants to have sex with me and he just wants to be on set abroad… has been in a relationship for three years behind all our backs,’ I wrote, adding: ‘Good luck, Bianca.’
Why did I do this? Well, the catastrophic meltdown of our marriage over the past 12 months is no secret. And that’s basically because I haven’t kept it one. By about month five of me asking him ‘what’s wrong?’ and him responding ‘nothing’, I’d started to think I was losing my mind.
My friends had started to lose theirs, too, after the 58th time I’d call them begging ‘what should I do? What did they think was wrong? Should I confront him?’
They didn’t have answers any more than I did. Something was wrong, clearly. And we were in a pandemic. I was stuck at home while my daughters Ella, 12, and Elsie, eight, were (ostensibly) doing online schooling.
And one day in August 2020, after another fight that was seemingly about nothing, I was once again crying, bawling on the bed, feeling I was worthless, that I was nothing, that he was definitely going to leave me soon because he could not stand it any more.
I realised he was sitting next to a young girl I’d never seen before. She was tagged in the post @iambiancawallace. Then I got that feeling. The feeling nobody in a relationship – even one that’s seen better days -wants to feel: My God. They are a couple. Pictured: Ioan and Bianca together in an Instagram post
I tapped her Instagram link and there she was in a tiny bikini which revealed a body not unlike Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. Suddenly, an awful lot of things began to fall into place in a very short time… Pictured: Ioan’s new girlfriend Bianca Wallace
Why did I do this? Well, the catastrophic meltdown of our marriage over the past 12 months is no secret. And that’s basically because I haven’t kept it one. Pictured: Alice’s tweets came just minutes after Ioan made his romance with Bianca Instagram official
I just lost the plot. I tweeted this: ‘Help. He’s told us he’s leaving us. I don’t know what to do.’
His reaction was instant. (He read all my tweets, because he said he ‘needed to keep an eye on me’). He grabbed my computer and deleted my tweet.
He was raging at me. Screaming at the top of his voice. ‘How dare you?’ His eyes were wide and white — it was terrifying.
I looked back at him. I said ‘give me the laptop back’. ‘No!’ he said. ‘Not until you’ve calmed down and learned to control yourself.’ Again, I said: ‘It’s my laptop. Please give it back.’ He walked out of the room, with the laptop.
Something seemed to break inside of me. I ran up to him and grabbed the laptop out of his hands. ‘It’s my f***ing laptop,’ I said. ‘And it’s my life.’
I went back onto Twitter and re-posted what I’d written, explaining that he had deleted it but that it wasn’t a mistake. It was a great big bloody scream for help.
Then the strangest thing happened. He stared me out, watching me retweet my cry for help.
And then he picked up the phone, called his parents and began to cry. I had no idea what he was saying as he communicates in Welsh with his parents but, well, obviously, it was bad. A line had been crossed.
The Daily Mail had picked the story up. I knew it wasn’t entirely the right thing to do, but as people started texting and the word got round, all I could feel was a huge gush of relief.
The next day he lawyered up. Suddenly, I was on Zoom meetings with five or six legal eagles fearing I might lose custody of my children. The advice was clear. I had to keep quiet. Stop airing my laundry in public.
It might seem odd, but the more I was pushed, prodded, told to get in line, the more the lawyers told me not to talk, the more I felt like doing it.
Talking to Twitter helped me get perspective. Women from all over the world would message me to say they’d had similar experiences. Without this outlet, I might truly have lost my mind.
People may accuse me of washing my dirty linen in public but the sad truth is that the internet has been my friend and salvation through these awful months. But, it can be torture, too. And there was no greater torture for me than the day I saw him with his new girlfriend on his Instagram feed earlier this week
To recap. I’d been on my own in Los Angeles throughout most of the pandemic lockdown, looking after our daughters. I don’t have any family here and not many friends. I’d had this sense for months that something wasn’t quite right. But whenever I brought it up with Ioan he would tell me I was imagining things.
Then something rather strange happened. When the pandemic panic kicked in properly, Ioan was in Australia shooting his show, Harrow, and people all over the world were frantically trying to get back to their families from abroad.
I kept bringing up him returning from Australia before planes stopped flying, but the panic I expected to see in him was not apparent. This is a man who panics about everything — but he kept saying: ‘At the end of the day what’s it going to be? Two months? Three months? And it is paradise down here!
I was gobsmacked! He hadn’t seen me or his children for seven months (minus a week at Christmas) and now he was all gung-ho about extending that to a year.
Eventually, with the help of various agents, the production, our manager and calls to a handful of random agencies, we got him on the last plane home from Sydney in April 2020.
I was so happy to see him and it was a joyous reunion with the children. But once home, he sat in the bath for several hours drinking bourbon, strangely morose.
I kept asking what was wrong, but that only made him angry. At one point he stood up in the bath, stark naked, and shouted: ‘Do you realise we were only one episode away from the series finale and now it will never be finished?’ I felt like he blamed me for this, for wanting him home. I told him that, of course, the series would get finished and, of course, it did.
Then, funnily enough, things began to settle down and we managed to have a really lovely summer together, from April to mid-July 2020 when he returned to Australia. We laughed, we had more sex than usual, he kept telling me over and over how much he loved me. I thought we were in love and happy again and that everything was all right.
How wrong could I have been! When he came back home at the end of August 2020, something had changed. I was grinning like an idiot when his car pulled up from the airport, the tears of joy were rolling down my face.
He got out, picked up the girls then it was my turn. I ran up and threw my arms around him but he remained rigid. I kissed him, he kissed me back limply then moved away. I was stunned.
So in love: Our wedding took place in September 2007 on a beach in Mexico. I wrote a poem and recited it at the wedding meal. We started trying to have children immediately on honeymoon in the Maldives Pictured: Alice and Ioan on their wedding day
For the first few days, he was tired and uncommunicative to the point of ignoring me. I became so upset it developed into a flaming row. ‘Why can’t you just acknowledge I’ve said something?’ I said. And then it came. ‘Because sometimes I can’t stand you. You’re so annoying,’ he shouted.
I had that burning lump in the middle of my throat and I just stared at him, trying not to cry. In my folly, I used the ‘baby’ voice we’d used for years and years when we first met (oh God) and said something like: ‘I know I can be annoying sometimes but you still wuv me though, don’t you?’
There was a ten-second silence, that seemed to go on for ever. Then another ten seconds. And then my world changed for ever.
‘I’m sorry, Alice, but I’m afraid I don’t. I don’t love you any more.’
We had always said we’d be together for ever, I reminded him, but his eyes remained cold.
He slept on the sofa, saying he needed space. His manner was chilly and then one day he simply said he had found an apartment and was moving out.
He still denied he was seeing someone else, and sugar-coated it for the children by saying that maybe we wouldn’t get divorced. Had he been honest, had he said: ‘I have fallen in love with someone else,’ then perhaps I wouldn’t have been so tormented.
He moved out in January this year and I only found out he’d filed for divorce a few weeks later when I read it on a gossip website.
What a gullible fool I’d been! I felt like I was in a windowless room and couldn’t breathe.
So, after eight months of torment and confusion, I went back online, because I felt nobody understood my pain. I had to let it out somewhere. My husband became remote and unfriendly and blamed me for being boring and irritating.
Fat shaming: Alice also alleged in a Tweet that Ioan told her that he couldn’t abide ‘fatties’ would leave her if she ‘gained weight’
My Twitter posts caused an eruption around the world. For me, it was quite an epiphany. Critics hollered that I should keep things private. But I felt I was being treated badly by the man I had married and I needed somebody — heck, everybody! — to know.
Some commentators even branded my exposure of our problems as very ‘unfeminine’. They said it was un-British to do what I did. Where on earth was my stiff upper lip? Someone from a psychology magazine even wrote a ridiculous open letter to me wondering what, 15 years from now, our daughters would think about my divorce!
Fifteen years from now, do you really think that’s what they will be worried about?
So, you’re worried about my girls? But you’re not worried that their father left them? Can you imagine what people would think if I had walked out and left them? It would have been an outrage.
I’d have been the scarlet woman, their terrible mother. Yet men like Ioan can just glide away into a lovely new life, walk out on their families and responsibilities, while I am left to pick up the pieces and try to glue our family life back together again, and somehow I am the bad one?
I have also been criticised for telling my daughters about their father’s lies, but what am I supposed to do? Continue his lies for him?
People may accuse me of washing my dirty linen in public but the sad truth is that the internet has been my friend and salvation through these awful months. But, it can be torture, too. And there was no greater torture for me than the day I saw him with his new girlfriend on his Instagram feed earlier this week.
Someone mentioned online that Ioan liked slim girls and I agreed. He had, after all, told me several times over the years that he couldn’t abide fatties and that he would leave if I gained weight. ‘I guess he was true to his word this time,’ I tweeted.
It would almost be funny, were it not so terrible. So, how did it end up like this? I still can’t work out how a love as strong as ours ended up going so badly wrong.
I first met Ioan in 1999 on the set of 102 Dalmatians. He was a bit cocky then, but by the end of the film we were besotted. It was love. We lived together in London and moved to America in 2003 — for both our careers.
He got the part of Sir Lancelot in King Arthur alongside Clive Owen and Keira Knightley. He lived in Dublin for eight months and I remained in LA working as well.
Now I am heartbroken. I feel dead. He’s broken my heart twice. The first time when he told me he no longer loved me and the second time this week when I found out he had another woman
But, despite the distance, we made it work and we loved so hard. I had lost my mum to a heart attack the day before I met him and my father had cut me off when he re-married, so Ioan was my rock and my friend and my lover.
We talked about spending the rest of our lives together and, in 2005, we went to Havana and he put a diamond engagement ring in my drink.
Our wedding took place in September 2007 on a beach in Mexico. I wrote a poem and recited it at the wedding meal. We started trying to have children immediately on honeymoon in the Maldives, but after several failed attempts of conception we went on to try IVF. Married life was great and we were overjoyed when I fell pregnant in 2009.
I was happy to stay at home and be a mum while he carried on acting and becoming a big star in shows including British period drama Hornblower, The Fantastic Four, Liar and Harrow.
Being a mother is the most important thing to me and I knew it would never work with two actors working in a marriage.
How do you work when you’ve got small children? Acting is an 18-hours-a-day job and most of it on shoots far away. I took ten years off at the worst point in my career. I honestly thought he’d be there for all of us for ever.
Now I am heartbroken. I feel dead. He’s broken my heart twice. The first time when he told me he no longer loved me and the second time this week when I found out he had another woman. I have not heard a word from him since news of his relationship broke.
All of a sudden I’m on my own, but I’m pretty resilient. I just wish he had told me the truth much sooner. I’m a problem solver, a realist and a pragmatist.
Of course, if he had done that, I would have been upset. But I would think, ‘OK, let’s sort this out’, and then we would have discussed, you know, how much he thought he was in love with this woman. How much?
I might have been able to persuade him to salvage us. Let’s somehow be a two-parent family until our children were at least teenagers.
All I can do now is focus on the girls, on giving them the happiest upbringing I can in the circumstances.
I’m certainly not interested in finding another man even though I do joke about it on Twitter.
I’m terrified of the future, but with time I hope to be able to reframe things. I’m desperately worried about money — can I be an actress again at my age?
I think I could. I love to write — maybe I’ll write a book? Whatever happens, I’ll get through this. I’m a tough old girl. I’m brave.
You know when they say, feel the fear and do it anyway? That’s what I do.
I won’t be growing old with Ioan — he loves someone else. I just wish he’d been a bit more honest about it.
It wouldn’t have saved our marriage, but it might have saved me an awful lot of pain.
Ioan has broken my heart TWICE: ALICE EVANS gives account of rejection and agony of family destroyed