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New Sean Penn movie a souvenir of his long-ago Charlize Theron romance

Charlize Theron and Sean Penn seem affectionate at the "Mad Max: Fury Road" premiere during the 68th Cannes Film Festival on May 14, 2015. | LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images

When Sean Penn and Charlize Theron began filming “The Last Face” in 2014, they were in the midst of a smoldering romance. By June 2015, their relationship had gone up in smoke. Now, as the film arrives on VOD and at AMC South Barrington, they are leading largely separate lives.

So what happened?

2013: When it all began 

Though they’d been friends for years (18, Theron told Vogue in 2014), the pair didn’t start dating until December 2013. Theron told Esquire in May 2015 that they both had significant others when they became friends (Penn was married and Theron was in a long-term relationship).

“It just kind of naturally happened, and before I knew it, I was in something that was making my life better — the people who really love me can see the effect it has had on me,” Theron told Vogue.

2014: We were staying in Paris…

Less than a year later, Penn proposed to Theron on a trip to Paris in November 2014, Us reported.

“There’s a foundation of 20 years that the two of us have shared with each other in all these different ways that is really the foundation of something that has brought a lot of beautiful things into my life,” Theron told Esquire. “We get so stuck in wanting to predict the future that we forget the moment that we’re in. And the moment that we’re in is just really good.”

Sean Penn and Charlize Theron attend the premiere of “The Gunman” on March 12, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

While promoting his film “The Gunman,” Penn sounded like a man in love during an interview with USA TODAY. At the time, he was editing “The Last Face,” and had positive reviews of Theron’s performance.

“I really wish this could translate without the bias of the personal relationship – she is a director’s dream.”

He smiled when talking about her, adding “She’s a woman.”

2015: What went wrong at Cannes?

But the couple split in June 2015 following the Cannes Film Festival in France, Us reported. The breakup came as a shock — Theron and Penn appeared head-over-heels in love as they hit the red carpet a month before. Penn, in all black, and Theron, looking ever bit the movie star on his arm in a bright yellow Dior couture dress, sparked headlines for showing PDA at the “Mad Max: Fury Road” premiere.

Neither Theron nor Penn publicly commented on the reason behind the breakup.

They continued to work together, however, on reshoots for “Last Face.

2016: An awkward encounter

Cannes brought them together again in 2016, as they attended the annual film festival to promote “The Last Face.” Though they had been arm-in-arm only the year before, they noticeably ignored each other multiple times — at the photocall for the film, press conference and on the red carpet.

Charlize Theron and Sean Penn share an awkward embrace each other after a screening of “The Last Face” during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2016. | Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Earlier that year, Theron told the Wall Street Journal that she did not “ghost” Penn when their relationship ended, debunking rumors that she had suddenly called off the engagement.

“And the [expletive] ghosting thing, like literally I still don’t even know what it is,” she said. “It’s just its own beast. We were in a relationship and then it didn’t work anymore. And we both decided to separate. That’s it.”

2017: The saga continues?

Now, as “The Last Face” is released, Theron has been busy promoting another new film, Atomic Blonde.

Will the pair work together again? Never say never.

Brooke Metz, USA TODAY