The December cover of Vanity Fair features a provocative headline over a photo of Nicole Kidman's frosty, line-free face: "The Wife Who Outfoxed Kristen Stewart." The missus in question is Liberty Ross, whose husband, "Snow White and the Huntsman" director Rupert Sanders, was surreptitiously photographed making out with his leading lady, Kristen Stewart, in July 2012.
The pictures of the pair puckering up led them to issue groveling apologies to their respective partners ("I love him, I love him, I'm so sorry," Kristen beseechingly said of Robert Pattinson), but it wasn't enough to salvage either relationship. Stewart called it quits with her longtime "Twilight" squeeze in May, while Ross filed for divorce from Sanders in January.
"I have no words to describe what we went through," Liberty tells VF, in her first interview on the cheating scandal. "It was horrible. It was really the worst, really the worst."
Ross, 35, reveals that Sanders, 42, with whom she has two children, told her about the PDA pictures less than 24 hours before they hit the Internet.
Once the images of Sanders nuzzling K.Stew, 23, in her Mini Cooper and at a scenic viewpoint went public, the dark-haired British model hired a publicist specializing in crisis management and hunkered down with her kids in a house away from the paparazzi.
"I was able to be there completely secluded," she says. "I just visualized [being] this sort of Masai warrior. I was just going to stand very still and very strong, and just let it all roll past me. I tried to keep as far away from it as I could and to understand that this is my family, and it's the most precious thing to me."
Ross, who filed for divorce in January, now seems philosophical about her marital meltdown: "Something always has to completely die for there to be a rebirth. I feel like I'm going through a rebirth."
She also believes she did her best to keep the union alive.
"I'm not a quitter," she insists. "I've done everything I could to be the perfect wife and mother and really support my husband. But I just didn't have any more to give, you know?"
She acknowledges that there were problems in their relationship before his dalliance with Stewart. While pregnant with their first child, Liberty put her modeling career on hold to join Sanders in a move from London to Los Angeles so he could pursue bigger films.
"Really, I had times when I felt very lonely, very disconnected from Rupert," says Ross. "We'd lost our real connection."
It probably didn't help that the couple considered "Snow White" a joint venture: "It was all we'd come here for, and we'd done it. We were driving around town and seeing these billboards of his movie. We were so excited, like, 'Wow, how did we do that?' I was so proud of him, what he'd done -- what we'd done. We were a team, and the movie was made out of love."
Liberty, who has been linked to music producer Jimmy Iovine post-split, insists she harbors no ill will toward her two-timing ex.
"We were together for 16 years, and that in itself is really beautiful," she says. "And we've created two exceptional lives together."
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