It’s been a long and bumpy ride to happiness for Robert Downey Jr. Once saddled with drug abuse, DUIs and a devastating breakup with Sarah Jessica Parker, the actor has finally found peace.
“People rise out of the ashes because, at some point, they are invested with a belief in the possibility of triumph over seemingly impossible odds,” Robert tells Parade in its new issue.
Now sober and happily married to film producer Susan Levin, the Iron Man star reflects on the “Dark Ages” of his adult life, during which he was caught in a vicious cycle of addiction that eventually proved fatal for his love affair with Sarah Jessica.
“I liked to drink, and I had a drug problem, and that didn’t jibe with Sarah Jessica, because it is the furthest thing from what she is,” he says. “She provided me a home and understanding. She tried to help me. She was so miffed when I didn’t get my act together.
The Sex and the City star stuck by her beau’s side for seven years, despite him being “mercurial and recklessly undisciplined and, for the most part…happily anesthetized.”
The two finally split in 1991, and getting over SJP was the hardest thing Robert’s ever had to do.
“I was in love with Sarah Jessica,” he confesses. “And love clearly was not enough. I was meant to move on. And, after some heartache, she was meant to find her home with a great star Matthew Broderick.”
The 43-year-old eventually moved on as well, having a son, Indio, now 14, with his first wife, Deborah Falcone. That still “wasn’t enough to right the ship,” as his substance abuse become even more public and he ended up doing time.
Robert finally saw the error of his ways when he met Susan, who immediately called him out on his scurrilous habit.
“She told me, ‘I’m not doing that drug dance with you. I’m drawing a line in the sand here.’ She was absolutely clear about it,” he says. “That doesn’t mean that other women, business associates, movie directors, insurance companies, judges and law enforcement hadn’t been clear about it too. It was that, before I met Mrs. Downey, I just didn’t give a goddamn. What changed is that I cared."
Now clean, Robert is philosophical about addiction and drug use.
"The original impetus of doing drugs, drinking, etc. was to feel its effect, and the effect seemed positive at the time. But if years down the road you are still saying, ‘Baby, I do it because it makes me happy,’ you don’t really mean it."
For more on Robert, check out Sunday's Parade!