The future is weird, man. We’re living in a time when Matthew McConaughey is one of our most respected actors, and Robert Downey Jr. is the epitome of familial stability. 20 years ago, if you had predicted either of these things, your Lip Smackers-smeared face would have been laughed right out of the 90s.
So how did RDJ, who spent those years bouncing from Oscar nomination to prison sentence to Ally McBeal to “getting arrested in a Palm Springs hotel room with three bags of cocaine, a loaded gun and a Wonder Woman costume,” turn it all around to become not only one of the world’s biggest blockbuster stars, but a man known for his family life, for his adorable pregnancy announcements and his heartfelt tributes to his late mother? How does that happen? Well, based on this interview with The Hollywood Reporter, it would seem that it was due to his now-wife, producer Susan Levin. When he met her on the set of Gothika (and isn’t it good to know that something came out of the making of Gothika?),
“The exit strategy [from drug use] was in process,” he says. He was sober enough, at any rate, that Susan finally agreed to a date. Within three months, Robert was proposing marriage— though he wasn’t yet divorced from model-singer Deborah Falconer, whom he wed in 1992 after 42 days of courtship.Sober enough? Wasn’t yet divorced? THREE MONTHS? Okay, yes, most of us probably would have run screaming from huge red flags like those. Not Susan, though.
Eventually, Susan accepted Robert’s proposal. But, always the sensible one, she insisted on a very long engagement. Two years. Also, she laid down the law: If Robert wanted her, he had to give up drugs, completely. If he messed up, she’d be gone. “Addiction was so foreign to me,” she says. “I was incredibly ignorant of the hold it had on people.”
“Thank God for that,” says Robert. “If she knew the depths of my depravity, we would not be sitting here.”