Robert Downey Jr.’s Wife, Susan, Once Gave the ‘Iron Man’ Star a Life-Changing Ultimatum

Robert Downey Jr. is happily married to his wife of 15 years, Susan Downey. That’s no small feat, especially in Hollywood where couples have to withstand the added pressures of the spotlight. Not only have they made their marriage last but Downey Jr. and Susan work together. They’re the co-founders of the production company, Team Downey. While their marriage is going strong today, early on in their relationship something threatened to derail it. Ahead, find out what happened when Susan issued the Iron Man actor an ultimatum. 

They met on a movie set

Susan Downey and Robert Downey Jr. attend the premiere of 'Dolittle'
Susan Downey and Robert Downey Jr. attend the premiere of Dolittle | Tibrina Hobson/FilmMagic

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Susan and Downey Jr. first crossed paths while filming the 2004 Halle Berry-led thriller, Gothika. It had been Susan’s first project getting a solo producing credit. They got to know each other on set and eventually, the Marvel actor and Susan had dinner together. 

From there, their romance moved pretty quickly with Susan telling Harper’s Bazaar that after only three months with Downey Jr. she knew “that this was it.” Clearly, the actor felt the same because he proposed marriage around that time even though his divorce from Deborah Falconer hadn’t been finalized. 

Susan Downey gave Robert Downey Jr. an ultimatum; her or drugs

Before Susan met Downey Jr., the actor’s drug use had played out in the press. He’d been arrested and served time in prison. Before Gothika he got kicked off Ally McBeal. The movie had been his first acting role after prison. When he and Susan started dating, she didn’t know Downey Jr. as a man who had been using drugs, she knew him as someone who, by all appearances, had his life together. 

“He was clean and sober — completely professional when he was working, and then, in the off hours, he was just a fun guy,” Susan told Harper’s Bazaar in 2009. 

But there came a time shortly after Gothika when she came face to face with what Downey Jr. calls his Darth Vader side. 

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“I did meet Darth Vader, for like a minute,” Susan said. “Right after the movie wrapped, and I said immediately, ‘This isn’t gonna work.’ I made it clear that to stay with me, nothing could happen.”

Her ultimatum led to Downey Jr. putting a stop to his drug use. He tossed any drugs he had left in the ocean around July 2003. Why did he do it? “I think he saw what we had,” Susan said. 

In a 2014 joint interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Susan and Downey Jr. reflected on their marriage thus far and of course, the ultimatum.

“Addiction was so foreign to me,” Susan said. “I was incredibly ignorant of the hold it had on people.” 

For Downey Jr., Susan’s inexperience worked in his favor.  “Thank God for that,” he said. “If she knew the depths of my depravity, we would not be sitting here.”

The couple got married in the Hamptons in August 2005 and they now have two children together; Avri Roel and Exton Elias.

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