Hilary Swank & Chad Lowe Announce Split

Hilary Swank & Chad Lowe Announce Split
Hahn-Khayat-Nebinger/Abaca

01/09/2006 AT 02:00 PM EST

Hilary Swank and Chad Lowe are separating after eight years of marriage, her publicist, Troy Nankin, announced in a statement Monday.

"Hilary and Chad have decided to separate but they are hopeful they'll be able to get through this tough time," the statement reads.

Swank, 31, and Lowe, 37, were married on Sept. 28, 1997. It was a first marriage for both.

The couple met at a 1992 Hollywood Athletic Club bash. "I went to a party with Leo DiCaprio, and Chad was there," Swank recalled for PEOPLE in 2003. "We just started talking."

Added Lowe: "It was like the old cliché where you see somebody, lock eyes across the room, and time stands still. ... I said, 'I would love just to take you to lunch.' Then I worked my way up to dinner. We had lunch, we had dinner and then some."

Swank called it "love at first sight."

The couple have no children, though, as they told PEOPLE last summer, they became the proud parents of two parrots: Seuss and Angel. "(Hilary and I) are very eager to have kids, and having parrots is great baby training," Lowe said.

Swank is among the rare breed of Hollywood stars who have won the top Oscar twice, being named Best Actress for 1999's Boys Don't Cry and again for 2004's Million Dollar Baby. At the Governor's Ball after the ceremony last March, Lowe advised Swank "to breathe it in and enjoy the moment. It is like when you get married: You wish it could last all night," he told PEOPLE.

Lowe, the brother of former West Wing star Rob Lowe, won an Emmy for his portrayal of AIDS sufferer Jesse McKenna on the 1989 TV series Life Goes On.

Nearly two years ago the couple launched a New York-based production company called Accomplice Films.

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