The relationship between actor Allison Williams and entrepreneur Ricky Van Veen seemed perfect on the surface.
The pair met in 2011, while Williams was playing the deceptively polished character Marnie Michaels in HBO’s Girls. Van Veen was two years into his work as CEO of Notional, the production company spinoff of his popular site, CollegeHumor. He proposed to Williams in 2014 and the couple married the following year. The innovative businessman and radiant star seemed like the model All-American couple fit for a Ralph Lauren ad. But below the flawless facade was an apparently faulty foundation, and the couple announced its separation in June 2019.
The announcement shattered the illusions of perfection the couple showed the world. It marked an end to an eight-year romance, just a few months shy of the pair’s four-year wedding anniversary. So what went wrong along the way? Did the relationship burn out with a bang, or simply fade away as the two drifted apart? Let’s investigate.
Was their shared love of The Bachelor simply not enough?
It all started with a bachelor, a bachelorette and The Bachelor. On a fateful night in 2011, Ricky Van Veen and Allison Williams met while attending their mutual friends’ The Bachelor viewing party. The show continued to play a prominent role in their relationship as it blossomed. “We went to a weekly viewing party every week,” Williams told host Chris Harrison on Bachelor Live (via the Daily Mail), “and it was like a big group date, but with both genders equally distributed… it was how we met up.”
Three years after their initial meeting, Van Veen took full advantage of another one of those viewing parties. The parties were hosted by television writer and producer Lee Eisenberg. “[Eisenberg] has a couch where we would always watch the show,” Williams told Harrison. “And that’s where Ricky proposed to me… I would not be married to my husband if it weren’t for this show.”
It’s a charming story of a matchmaking show making an offscreen match. But, like many matches made by the show, it wasn’t built to last.
Was the fairytale too good to be true?
If the strength of a marriage was determined by the opulence of the wedding, Ricky Van Veen and Allison Williams might still be together. According to People, Williams walked down the aisle in a custom couture Oscar de la Renta gown in September 2015 at Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyo. She was arm in arm with her famous father, former NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams (shown above).
The star-studded ceremony was attended by 150 to 200 guests, including “Williams’ Girls costars Lena Dunham, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet.” The guest list also included more surprising high-profile friends Katy Perry, John Mayer, Diane von Furstenberg, Barry Diller, Seth Meyers and Bruce Springsteen. To top it all off, the wedding was officiated by Hollywood’s “nicest guy,” Tom Hanks.
“The magical setting featured a small creek and spectacular views,” a source told People, adding, “It was a stunning ceremony.”
Unfortunately, a fairytale wedding doesn’t always guarantee a happily ever after.
Did Allison Williams find marriage unexciting?
On the HBO dramedy Girls, Williams plays Marnie Michaels, a tightly-wound character who strives for perfection. Of course, Marnie makes countless mistakes, including her marriage to the opiate-addicted manchild Desi in Season 5. One would hope that Williams’ real-life marriage would bear no resemblance to her onscreen one.
In March 2016, seven months into her marriage, Williams on TODAY to promote the sixth and final season of Girls. She was asked about both her on- and offscreen marriages. “She’s making it up as she goes along, and she’s working with an infuriating partner at times,” she said of Marnie. Of her own partnership, Williams’ response was warmer, but not exactly boiling hot. “It’s good. It feels very much the same,” she said before describing how surprised her friends were that she didn’t turn into a bridezilla. Finally, she somewhat unconvincingly added, “Married life is awesome.”
Many of us want security, but we also want a healthy dose of newlywed excitement. It’s possible that the monotony of a long-term, unchanging partnership may have felt lackluster to Williams.
Allison Williams' career was rapidly taking off
When Allison Williams and Ricky Van Veen met in 2011, she was at the onset of her acting career. Shortly after their meeting, the pair collaborated on what would become just her fourth professional screen credit, the CollegeHumor series Jake and Amir. But many career changes happened over the eight years that followed.
The relationship was strong enough to last through all six seasons of Girls. Following her success on the critically-acclaimed HBO dramedy, Williams faced much more high-profile career opportunities. In 2014, she played the starring role in Peter Pan Live!, opposite Christopher Walken. Her appearance as Peter Pan led to one of her most high-profile roles to date: Rose Armitage in Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning 2017 horror movie Get Out. Williams’ career continued picking up steam, and 2018 was a particularly busy year, as Williams appeared in Netflix’s series adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events and as the protagonist in the streaming service’s thriller movie, The Perfection.
The life of an actor is turbulent and unpredictable. Williams’ skyrocketing career may have rocked the boat for her relationship with Van Veen due to conflicting schedules. But it’s not as though Van Veen was just sitting around the house in sweats and slippers waiting for her to come home…
Ricky Van Veen work life sounds hectic, too
If Ricky Van Veen’s Twitter bio is anything to go by, he’s one busy guy: “Facebook/CollegeHumor/Vimeo/BustedTees/HomesickCandle/some other things,” it reads.
In 2009, Van Veen assumed the role of CEO of the production company Notional, which is best known for the cooking show Chopped. This was one of many elements of Van Veen’s high-profile business relationship with prominent TV executive Barry Diller, who owned CollegeHumor‘s parent company, CH Media, from 2006 to 2020.
Despite his multiple companies and high-profile positions, Van Veen doesn’t stay behind the scenes. He has made appearances in his own CollegeHumor series, including Hardly Working and MTV’s The CollegeHumor Show. In 2015, he founded product company Scroll Commerce and invented products for the company including the popular Homesick Candle. In 2016 — the year after his marriage to Williams — Van Veen became Facebook’s head of global creative strategy, adding to his expansive list of projects.
With so many high-level business positions, it’s difficult to imagine Van Veen striking a stable work-life balance. With Williams just as busy, it’s likely their separate schedules and obligations put a strain on their romance.
Allison Williams and Ricky Van Veen led separate lives for a while
With Allison Williams busy with her Netflix roles and Ricky Van Veen busy with work for Facebook and his production company, the couple appeared to be growing apart over the course of 2018.
On March 4, 2018, Williams celebrated Get Out at the 90th Annual Academy Awards. The movie scored four nominations, including Best Picture, and writer Jordan Peele won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. After the ceremony, Williams headed to Vanity Fair’s annual Oscars after-party for further celebrations with Van Veen in tow (above). He wore a classic tux, she wore a glamorous red dress and the couple posed with their arms around each other. The glitzy night may have been a celebration of Williams’ career, but it also seemed to mark the beginning of the end of her marriage. Posing with Van Veen on the Vanity Fair red carpet marked “their last public appearance together,” according to W.
For more than a year before they announced their split, however, the couple seemed to be leading separate lives. At least, that’s what a source told Page Six in June 2019. “Every time I’ve seen Allison out recently,” the source dished, “Ricky’s been nowhere to be seen.”
Were Allison Williams and Ricky Van Veen just too different?
Despite their individual career successes, sources claim Ricky Van Veen and Allison Williams had conflicting approaches to their ambitions. A supposedly “close friend” of theirs told Page Six the two were “distinctly different.”
Pointing to Williams’ acting career, another source for the tab likened her to her goal-oriented Girls character, Marnie Michaels. “Allison really is Type A, a real-go getter,” the source claimed. With his entrepreneurial spirit, one might speculate that Van Veen may be similarly driven and determined. But the same source claims this is not the case, and that their differences could have contributed to their split. “Ricky is far more relaxed and laid-back,” the source alleged, adding, “Things just haven’t been going well recently.”
While we take this anonymous tabloid sourcing with a grain of salt, it’s also fair to also consider that some say opposites attract, and Williams’ and Van Veen’s differences may have contributed to their initial attraction and the longevity of their eight-year romance. Unfortunately, the attraction was not magnetic enough to hold them together for good.
What have Allison Williams and Ricky Van Veen been up to since their split?
Ricky Van Veen’s and Allison Williams’ post-split behaviors are further clues of their opposing priorities.
Van Veen appeared to move on quickly after the split was announced. In September 2019, two months after the announcement, the Daily Mail reported that he was spotted living it up with a “mystery woman” in Venice, Italy. The pair was spotted on Barry Diller’s $70 million yacht, and were joined by other famous business figures, including fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, the recently divorced Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Bezos’ new girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.
Williams has not been linked to any romantic partners since the split. She was radio silent on Instagram for a year following the separation announcement, and only posted three times in June and July 2020, all in support of social justice causes. Her last reported work was on Swedish thriller film Horizon Line, which began filming in February 2019 and remains unreleased as of this writing. Based post-split silence, Williams seems determined to keep her personal life private and live a more low-key lifestyle for now.
It’s possible that the contrast between Van Veen’s pursuit of the high life and Williams’ decision to lay low further indicates that the two may have been too different to make their marriage last.
Was Allison Williams and Ricky Van Veen's split amicable?
“With mutual love and respect, we have made the decision to separate as a couple,” Allison Williams and Ricky Van Veen said in the joint statement announcing their separation, adding, “We are grateful for the friendship we have and will continue to have.”
The couple has not been spotted together since the announcement, so it’s unclear whether they actually continue to spend time together as friends. They had no children together, but they shared mutual friends who were likely saddened by the split, including Bradley Cooper and Irina Shayk, who announced their split the same month as Van Veen and Williams. The couple also shared a Golden Retriever mix named Moxie and a $2 million apartment in Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. The fate of these shared assets remains a mystery.
Whether the split was due to busy schedules, conflicting personalities or something else entirely, there seems to be no bad blood between Van Veen and Williams. Of course, their separation announcement could be a reflection of their romance as a whole: sophisticated and polished, but concealing deeper issues lurking beyond the surface.
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