We've seen it time and time again.
A scandal of some sort occurs - maybe someone has cheated, maybe someone has tweeted - and a hastily organised PR statement follows, usually in rather terse and formal language. We've even had instances of televised apologies from disgraced politicians, while the scorned wife stands next to him solemnly. In fact, there was an Emmy-winning TV show, The Good Wife, based on this very premise and a popular Little Britain sketch in the same vein.
When PR teams aren't drafting the words on behalf of the celeb in their custody, we've had the slightly more personal iPhone notes app apology, duly posted to Instagram. Justin Timberlake used this approach after he was photographed holding hands with a co-star and not his wife Jessica Biel.
Or, on the other end of the spectrum, the statement is delivered through the publicist entirely. At which point, the celebrity is nowhere to be seen; they've likely fled the country holed up in an isolated property far, far away from the world's prying eye.
So, Dominic West's recent move is a break from tradition and one that has us scratching our heads.
Let's recap: On Monday, the Mail Online published photographs of the 50-year-old thespian in a series of romantic clinches in Rome. Not with his wife, no, but with his colleague, the actress Lily James.
The pictures showed the two at lunch, where West was seen tenderly stroking James' face and, in another, nestling into her neck. Another showed West's hand on her lower back while the Mamma Mia! 2 star photographed the Spanish Steps, while others showed the pair cruising around the Italian capital on an electric scooter.
James is single, or so it would seem. Following a five-year relationship with The Crown's Matt Smith, the couple reportedly ended their relationship for good this year. The 31-year-old was pictured hanging out at a London park with Captain America himself, Chris Evans, shortly after, but there was never any confirmation the two were in a relationship.
West, on the other hand - a Golden Globe nominated actor for The Affair - has been married to Catherine FitzGerald for 10 years and they share four children together. Following the publication of the pictures, the Mail seemingly travelled to the couple's Wiltshire home and attempted to poach comments from just about any passerby: a gardener, a friend of Fitzgerald and some neighbours who may or may not know the family personally.
Initial reports suggested FitzGerald was 'devastated' and 'shocked' at the photos and, shortly afterwards, West was seen driving back to the family house following a likely panicked flight home.
But then... this morning happened. At around 10.30am, FitzGerald and West walked out of the house to greet awaiting photographers and staged a couple's photoshoot, reminiscent of you and your prom date in 2010. Kissing in front of the cameras and smiling arm in arm, they made a physical declaration over the state of their marriage.
There we have it. Nothing to worry about. Clearly whatever happened is fine. All is fine.
However, photographers then released another photo from the impromptu press call of a strange, handwritten note left outside the couple's Wiltshire home, that simply read: 'Our marriage is strong and we're very much still together. Thank you.'
And we've been left a little discombobulated. Firstly, we're used to celebrities fleeing rather than addressing such scandals in such a head-on manner. Secondly, the handwritten note? Did they scribble that two minutes before heading out to face the music? And if so, was it necessary? Thirdly, the whole 'everything-is-hunky-dory' rhetoric - after the pictures the world has seen - has us thinking of the cartoon dog sitting amid the flames professing 'this is fine' meme.
We weren't alone in our confusion. Over on Twitter, the disbelief was real:
Latest pic from Dominic West's house pic.twitter.com/VNC5wCCy9u— Simon Usborne (@susborne) October 13, 2020
Somebody hang Dominic West's handwritten note in the Smithsonian where it belongs pic.twitter.com/p1eiJU5AgZ— Caitlin McBride (@mcbride_caitlin) October 13, 2020
Ok it’s none of our business and I didn’t care yesterday but I’m afraid I’m now completely fascinated by Dominic West WRITING A NOTE ABOUT HIS MARRIAGE FOR REPORTERS STANDING OUTSIDE HIS HOUSE pic.twitter.com/eCtxR5dyn4— Bella Mackie (@bellamackie) October 13, 2020
In my next job as Dominic West’s publicist I’m going to tell him that his photo opportunities with women need a bit of work pic.twitter.com/m6Kp3xgSAo— Anita Singh (@anitathetweeter) October 13, 2020
Every. Single. Detail of this Dominic West/Lily James story is celeb gossip PERFECTION I want to shake everyone's hand and congratulate them on a job well done. pic.twitter.com/NblC2Gn4vp— Gretchen Anner (@gretchenkast) October 13, 2020
Is this the celebrity scandal in 2020?
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