/Sarah Jessica Parker Offers Rare Insight Into Her Breakup With Robert Downey Jr.

Sarah Jessica Parker Offers Rare Insight Into Her Breakup With Robert Downey Jr.

Sarah Jessica Parker felt she was a mother long before she gave birth to her first child in 2002.

The “And Just Like That…” star told The New Yorker in a new profile published Sunday that her relationship with her former boyfriend Robert Downey Jr. — who she dated from 1984 to 1991 — felt more parental than romantic thanks to his well-documented substance abuse problems during the early days of his career. After a string of bizarre arrests and stints in rehab, Downey got sober in in the early 2000s.

Parker — who took “one sip” of a cocktail while speaking to the New Yorker’s Rachel Syme and “declared it too strong” — told the magazine that she never felt it “necessary” to have a rebellious phase in her life.

This attitude seems to have clashed with the lifestyle that Downey embraced while they were dating in their early 20s, and Parker admitted that she often felt undervalued by her ex and his inner circle, who “made her feel like a parent at the age of twenty-two.”

“People around him would be dismissive of me, but I had given him stability and tried to create a steady heartbeat that allowed him to show up on time,” Parker said. “That made me angry and embarrassed me.”

Parker with husband Matthew Broderick in 1998.
Parker with husband Matthew Broderick in 1998.

Ron Galella, Ltd. via Getty Images

While the two dated, Downey did score a few high-profile gigs including 1985’s “Weird Science,” 1987’s “The Pickup Artist,” a brief stint on “Saturday Night LIve” (from 1985 to 1986) and his breakout role in 1987’s “Less Than Zero.”

For his part, Downey told the magazine through a representative that he has “great respect” for Parker.

This could be due to an encounter the former couple had later in life in which Downey contacted Parker seeking “closure.”

“Seeing her, I was like, ‘She’s so great and so cool and so funny and so in-command,’” Downey told Howard Stern in 2015. “I got to meet her kids and I saw the way she and [Parker’s husband, Matthew Broderick] live and I respect both of them so much.”

When Stern asked Downey if he was in love with Parker when they dated, Downey responded with: “Absolutely.”

But Downey, who married film producer Susan Levin in 2005, also admitted that time had clouded the way he remembered Parker.

Susan Downey and actor Robert Downey Jr. in 2013.
Susan Downey and actor Robert Downey Jr. in 2013.

Stefanie Keenan via Getty Images

“You always have a perception of somebody that you spent a big chunk of your life with and I think it’s typical to the human thing that the further you get away from that in your new relationship, you taint your perception of the person,” Downey told Stern.

“It happens in this haphazard kind of way, and it’s a little bit stilted, then there’s this familiarity that overtakes it,” Downey added of reconnecting with Parker. “And you realize you’re just in the presence of this fully mature mother, and woman, and artist, and human being, and there’s enough good will leftover. You didn’t burn that bridge.”

Need help with substance use disorder or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.

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