Rachel Ward & Co-star’s Love Moved from Set to Real Life — They Made It to 40 Years after an ‘Argument’

Despite developing chemistry while working on the “The Thorn Birds set,” English-Australian actress Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown had a massive argument on their Ireland getaway. Consequently, it led to their happy-ever-after.

Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown’s love story has lasted the test of time, even though it started while working on the set of a beloved miniseries. Nevertheless, the duo created a memorable romance worthy of mention, including a happy and healthy family.

Lovers of the 1983 hit series “The Thorn Birds” were misled by the natural chemistry between Ward’s character, Meggie and Father Ralph, played by Richard Chamberlain. On the big screens, it was easy to be captivated by the forbidden love between these two as they were pros.

Australian actor Bryan Brown at a press conference at Parliament House on March 16, 2021 in Canberra, Australia. | Source: Getty Images

However, what made it seamless for Ward to give off romantic gestures and emotions was her love for co-star Bryan Brown, who played her onscreen husband, Luke (the wrong husband she was forced to marry).

Fans were not the only ones smitten by her expressions. Another cast member, Chamberlain, praised her acting during an interview with Larry King. He recounted:

“Rachel Ward, this beautiful, beautiful creature in “The Thorn Birds,” the love scenes were wonderful to do…And she was actually falling in love with Brian Brown at the time…it was delicious kissing her and hugging her and doing all that stuff. It was wonderful.”


Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown on the TV miniseries, “The Thorn Birds” which aired March 27 through 30, 1983. | Source: Getty Images

Brown’s way of winning Ward’s heart was not by catchy phrases or compliments; rather, he wooed her with a palm reading. The actor recalled that while waiting for the take to begin, he asked the English-Australian star for her hand, claiming to know the future. After viewing the lines on her palm, Ward complied, and her co-star noted that she would have three kids in the future.

The “The Thorn Birds” Stars Married in Real-Life
Brown, who went on to build his career, enjoying fame in his country, Australia, and beyond, cheekily revealed that he never knew Ward would be carrying his kids. But more than forty years later, he remains grateful for walking the path with his former co-star.

More than three decades later, the couple worked on a film titled “Palm Beach.” This time, Ward brought her director chops to the forefront while their daughter, Matilda, who shares a knack for acting, starred alongside her father.

Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward at the 66th Sydney Film Festival Program Launch at Sydney Town Hall on May 08, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. | Source: Getty Images

For Ward, her attraction to him was basic until he proved charming. Then, thankfully, her onscreen mom, Jean Simmons, noticed it and paired them. Chamberlain, who noticed their brewing romance, claimed they were so in love that both parties reciprocated the emotions.

Although it was glaring that they had developed these feelings for each other, the decision to get married was somewhat spontaneous. According to Brown’s story:

“I was in London to film ‘Give My Regards to Broad Street’ with Paul McCartney. Rachel came with me. We took a week off to go to Ireland and had this massive argument. I just thought if we’re gonna argue like that, we may as well get married.”

Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward at the 2018 AACTA Awards Presented by Foxtel at The Star on December 5, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. | Source: Getty Images

Their massive argument paved the way for the spectacular wedding ceremony hosted in the actress’s childhood home, Cornwell Manor, a Georgian mansion in Oxfordshire.

Following the wedding, the “Along Came Polly” actor and his wife moved to Sydney, Australia, where they expanded their family, welcoming three kids, James, Matilda, and Rose.

The “The Thorn Birds” continues to be one of Ward’s most significant features. Unlike her husband, who advanced his career by appearing in films like “Gorillas in the Mist” and “Australia,” she retired from acting and settled into movie directing and screenwriting.

Bryan Brown at the world premiere of Palm Beach at the 66th Sydney Film Festival Opening Night at State Theatre on June 05, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. | Source: Getty Images

Following the success of the miniseries, she suffered from heightened insecurities. Even though she beat notable faces like Michelle Pfeiffer and Olivia Newton-John, Kim Basinger, and Jane Seymour to the Meggie role, it was challenging carrying on in the movie industry.

Her beloved husband defended the behavior, admitting that the fame was tough to handle. But “The Thorn Birds” was not riddled with downsides, they enjoyed acting together, and it has been credited as their meeting point.

Rachel Ward and Bryan Brown at the YMCA Mother of All Balls at Town Hall on May 24, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. | Source: Getty Images

More than three decades later, the couple worked on a film titled “Palm Beach.” This time, Ward brought her director chops to the forefront while their daughter, Matilda, who shares a knack for acting, starred alongside her father.

The film’s cast crew consisted of former colleagues and other notable faces, including Greta Scacchi, Sam Neil, and Richard Grant. Amid making an intriguing watch for viewers, the Australian duo is basking in their happy life. They are surrounded by their kids who live close by and share a solid bond with them.

Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward at the Sydney premiere of the film ‘Dirty Deeds’ at Hoyts Cinema, George Street on July 15, 2002 in Sydney, Australia. | Source: Getty Images

In 2019, they landed another title offscreen after welcoming their first grandson, Zan. It was a memorable and unusual birth as Brown was glued to his wife in the delivery room as a witness.

The actor claimed the birth was unexpected but being in the room with his daughter was not a big deal. He was present for his kids and did not see the need to be absent from grandbaby Zan.


Bryan Brown & Rachel Ward during On the Beach Premiere at The Academy in Beverly Hills, California, United States.| Source: Getty Images

A few years later, Matilda blessed her parents with baby Anouk, their first granddaughter. For Brown and Ward, the more, the merrier; they were smitten by the tiny minions and confessed to missing them whenever they were distant.

Brown and Ward’s Marriage after Forty Years
The duo is not any different from Hollywood power couples who always share their experiences and the recipe for a successful marriage.

Actor Bryan Brown and Actress Rachel Ward at the 41st Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 28, 1984 at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images

Brown explained that understanding his wife has been the manual to his healthy and happy marriage. This involves agreeing that she is always right. He shared:

“The main thing is to say Yes to your wife all the time and if anything goes wrong say ‘It’s my fault’. If men understood that, they’d be happier.”

Although fans of “The Thorn Birds” believed the duo had a complex relationship void of love on screen. They developed a different plot that blossomed into a fairytale romance through years of team effort, sticking by each other, and of course, believing Ward is always right!

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