entertainment 5 days ago

The puzzling reason why Geena Davis lied to Oprah Winfrey and others about her fourth marriage

Mercury News — Martha Ross Mercury News

Aug. 12-- Aug. 12--In 2006, Geena Davis sat down for a lengthy Q&A with Oprah Winfrey about her career in feminist films such as "Thelma and Louise," her then-fledging activist work against gender stereotypes in entertainment and her happy marriage to neurosurgeon Reza Jarrahy.

Davis told Winfrey for her O magazine that she and Jarrahy, an Iranian-American who is 15 years younger than her, "just hit it off" when they met through friends in 1999. The Oscar winner also said they joked about him becoming her fourth husband. Davis laughingly told Winfrey: "I said to him, 'How stupid are you? You're going to become someone's fourth husband.'"

But it turns out that Davis may have lied to Winfrey about something significant in that interview: whether or not she and Jarrahy were actually married.

That's according to a deposition obtained by TMZ in their divorce case -- which may not really be a divorce case because the 63-year-old Davis claims they never legally wed.

In the deposition, Jarrahy's attorney brought up Davis' interview with Winfrey while questioning her. "You bragged about your marriage to Reza and what a great husband he was, correct?" the attorney, Stephen Kolodny, asked.

Davis said she did not specifically recall the interview, whether it was on Winfrey's TV show or for her magazine, according to the deposition. But Davis conceded that Kolodny's description of how she talked about Jarrahy sounded correct.

At that point, Kolodny then "dropped the hammer," according to TMZ and asked, "You lied to Oprah?"

"Yes," Davis conceded.

The reason that Davis is in the situation of committing what TMZ called "the unholiest of sins" -- lying to Oprah Winfrey -- goes back to the unusual circumstances of the September 2001 event that the actress has long presented to the world as her fourth wedding.

People reported that Davis and Jarrahy tied the knot in a private ceremony in the Hamptons. In a joint statement issued at the time, Davis and Jarrahy said, "We are very happy and we look forward to spending the rest of our lives together." The couple subsequently had three children: a daughter, now 17, and twin sons, 15.

Davis also gushed about Jarrahy in a 2006 interview with Good Housekeeping. As with Winfrey, she talked about how marriage No. 4 was the charm. Davis was previously married to Finnish film director Renny Harlin, actor Jeff Goldblum and restaurateur Richard Emmolo.

"I really did feel that I had turned a corner, that I had pulled off changes that were real and permanent," Davis told Good Housekeeping. "And it was exciting to know I was marrying someone who I can be cranky or selfish in front of and he doesn't run screaming from the room or judge me for it. It's like I discovered a whole other way to live."

Jarrahy was identified as Davis' husband in media photos from film premieres and other events through the 2000s, and as recently as 2015.

In May 2018, Jarrahy filed for divorce, blaming the split on irreconcilable differences, People and TMZ reported. He said he and Davis separated in November 2017.

Jarrahy subsequently asked for spousal support, for joint legal and physical custody of the children and for a property split, the outlets reported.

But Davis countered by saying she did not want a divorce -- because she said they had never been married in the first place, People and TMZ previously reported.

In her court filing, Davis said she and Jarrahy "knowingly and voluntarily chose to have a marriage-like ceremony, fully aware that it was not legally binding," People reported.

In her deposition, Davis admitted that she and Jarrahy hired a wedding planner and caterers; they even had a Catholic priest to participate in the ceremony, during which they exchanged vows and a ring, TMZ reported. Davis said they "intended" to get married -- "to be really married" -- before having children. At the same time, she said they made "the intentional decision not to file for a marriage license" before the September 2001 ceremony -- though she did not say why, according to the deposition.

In her court filings, Davis claimed that she and Jarrahy checked "single" on tax returns, did not own property as a couple and "never had a joint checking or savings account, never had a joint retirement account." She also stated that Jarrahy did not receive health insurance through her SAG-AFTRA membership as he "does not qualify as a family member."

In her court filing, Davis also included a 2012 letter for a home loan that was signed by Jarrahy. In the letter Jarrahy wrote, "I filed my tax returns in 2009 as a single individual because I am not currently married. Ms. Davis and I co-habitate and co-parent our three children but are not officially wed."

Jarrahy has continued to argue that the marriage was valid, regardless of the irregularity with the license, TMZ reported last year. He also expressed concerns about their three children being declared "illegitimate," TMZ added.

But Davis' attorney, Peter Lauzon, hit back at the time over the use of such an "arcane" term, saying it has no place in modern society.

But if the "legitimacy" of the couple's three children is not a legal issue, there are financial implications riding on whether the marriage is valid, TMZ noted.

If the court sides with Davis and says there was no marriage, then there won't be a division of property: What's his is his and what's hers is hers, TMZ said. Jarrahy also would not be entitled to spousal support because he wouldn't legally be a spouse.

Davis has been in the headlines in recent weeks because she has a guest-starring role in the third season of the acclaimed Netflix series "GLOW," which began Friday. She also served as an executive producer on "This Changes Everything," a documentary about gender disparity in Hollywood, which was released in theaters Friday.

Davis, who won an Academy Award for best supporting actress for "The Accidental Tourist" in 1989, also is slated to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in October. This is for the work of her eponymous Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media, which she founded in 2004 and which is set to have set the stage for the #MeToo movement.

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