Sarah Jessica Parker and Robert Downey Jr. Used to Throw Water Balloons at Their Hollywood Neighbors
#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.
Who: Golden Globe and Emmy-winning TV star Sarah Jessica Parker, 53, and two-time Oscar nominated actor Robert Downey Jr., 53.
How They Met: Parker and Downey met on the set of 1984 drama Firstborn when they were both 18 years old. They moved in together just eight weeks after they began dating.
Why We Loved Them: In 1985, when RDJ and SJP were living together in L.A. (California?! What would Carrie Bradshaw think?!), Parker admitted they’d throw water balloons at their neighbors from the windows of their Hollywood house. Said neighbors would retaliate by spraying the 20-year-olds with a garden hose. “You have to run to each window and hope you get there in time to close it. It’s very immature, I know, but fun,” Sarah Jessica told People. (Our imaginations are running wild assigning famous identities to these hose-wielding neighbors of theirs.)
When They Peaked: While they were together, SJP was somehow convinced to leave the house in a tie-dye T-shirt and denim cut-offs, and for that we will be forever grateful.
The Breakup: In 1991, after seven years together (though Parker has said it was closer to eight), the young actors went their separate ways. Though they once joked about sharing a Jewish wedding “at Le Mondrian Hotel with flamenco dancers,” Downey and Parker’s future together was derailed by the elephant in the room — er, their relationship: RDJ’s addiction.
Speaking to a dark period in his life, Downey told Parade in 2008, “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. She provided me a home and understanding. She tried to help me. She was so miffed when I didn’t get my act together. I was in love with Sarah Jessica . . . and love clearly was not enough.”
Years later, RDJ provided additional context, telling Howard Stern he and Sarah shared a “very conservative relationship considering the fact that she was normal, and I was out of my mind.”
Parker herself has said much of the same, admitting that her ex’s drug problem ultimately ended their relationship. “There was a huge amount of time spent making sure he was OK,” the Sex and the City star told People in 2018. “At a certain point, I had the courage to say, ‘I’m going to walk away and I’m just going to pray that you don’t die.’”
And though things didn’t ultimately work out between them, Parker says their relationship “taught me how I love.” Now a mother of three, Sarah Jessica explained that loving Robert through his battle with addiction was not dissimilar to loving a child. “Maybe it taught me a little bit about being a parent, too,” she said, “because the things that I ended up caring about and the way I cared for Downey, were things that might be more suitable for a parent.”
Parker has since called the relationship “a really adventurous, important eight years of my life.”
In an SATC-worthy twist, while Downey was in N.Y.C. on business in 2015, he and Parker had a chance to catch up nearly 25 years after their split. “We were able to spend some time together and it was really cool,” the Iron Man star told Howard Stern. “Seeing her I was like, ‘She’s so great and so cool and so funny and so in-command,'” he added. “I got to meet her kids and I saw the way she and [her husband] live and I respect both of them so much.”
Parker, too, enjoyed her reunion with the actor. “It was really nice to see him,” she said in an interview with CenterStage, adding that she “never felt that there were hard feelings” between them.
Where They Are Now: Both actors have done quite well for themselves in the nearly three decades since their split.
Downey made a massive return to the public fore in 2008 with Iron Man, prompting the actor to become one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood. In addition to his place in the Marvel universe (which has lent itself to roles in the Avengers, Spider-Man, and Captain America films), Downey’s starred in the Sherlock Holmes series and will soon appear in Jamie Foxx’s theatrical directorial debut, All-Star Weekend.
Soon after splitting from Parker, Downey wed musician and actress Deborah Falconer, with whom he welcomed son Indio in 1993. Following his separation from Falconer, Downey married his current wife, film producer Susan Downey, in 2005. The pair share a 6-year-old son named Exton and a 4-year-old daughter named Avri.
Of course, Downey isn’t the only one to gain commercial and critical acclaim in a massively popular franchise. SJP starred as the core member of SATC’s empowered foursome until 2004, and starred in two spin-off films in 2008 and 2010. After dabbling in film a bit, Parker returned to HBO to both star in and executive produce the dramedy series Divorce, which will return for its third season in 2019. On top of her acting and producing prowess, the longtime Manhattanite also designs some pretty incredible (and totally Carrie-approved) shoes.
Like Downey, it wasn’t long after their breakup that Parker found someone new — but unlike Downey, Parker’s new relationship has lasted for decades. Five years after they began dating, Sarah wed fellow actor Matthew Broderick in 1997. The duo are mom and dad to three children: James, 16, and twin daughters Marion and Tabitha, both 9.