Iron man's golden girl

Meet Iron Man's real superpower.

Susan Downey is the personification of the saying "behind every successful man is a great woman".

Without the missus, Robert Downey Jr, commonly known as RDJ, 49, would not be the global superstar - and highestpaid actor in Hollywood- he is now.

With a litany of drug-fuelled incidents, he was toxic property in Tinseltown. A borderline has-been. A "whatever happened to...?" trivia question.

Susan, 40, has been RDJ's guide since they got together in 2003, and this month marks another milestone for the couple - the release of The Judge, their first movie under their production company Team Downey, founded four years ago.

The emotionally charged family drama, which opens here tomorrow, sees RDJ as Hank Palmer, a slick big city lawyer who returns to his small-town home following the death of his mother.

He finds himself in a complicated situation with his estranged dad (Robert Duvall), the titular judge.

Accused of murder, he reluctantly hires Hank to defend him.

During a recent press interview, Susan said: "Robert and I had already made like six movies together. We decided that if we're going to keep doing this and enjoying ourselves, we had to do something more official."

Besides the film, RDJ and Susan have another production coming out next month - their second child. They have a two-year-old son, Exton.

For now, eyes are on how well The Judge performs. It has been suggested the drama could bring some Oscar gold for Team Downey. Here is a closer look at the woman who saved RDJ:

She's a go-getter

Born to a Chicago family in 1973, Susan Levin knew she wanted to be in the movie business.

"I had a poster in my room of all the Academy Award-winning Best Pictures," she told BuzzFeed News at the recent Toronto International Film Festival.

"Whenever there was a new one, I'd make my mum go get it for me. I loved entertaining, big Hollywood movies."

That passion guided the one-time model to graduate summa cum laude in film-making from the University Of Southern California in 1995.

She rapidly climbed the Hollywood ladder, carving a successful career as a producer with production mogul Joel Silver.

According to Box Office Mojo, the films she worked on, such as The Brave One, RockNRolla, Sherlock Holmes, The Book of Eli and Unknown, have grossed about US$2.7 billion (S$3.4 billion) worldwide.

She's straight as an arrow

Unlike her husband - the classic Hollywood child, high-school dropout and well-documented drug and alcohol abuser - Susan has not even smoked a cigarette.

Describing herself to Harper's Bazaar as "very structured, with firm boundaries", she added that she "was never a partyer".

"I used to enjoy some red wine, but now I don't do anything and I honestly didn't know anyone who had drug problems."

She's his rock

When they first met on the set of the 2003 Halle Berry thriller Gothika, which Susan was producing for Silver, RDJ had just been released from court-ordered rehab.

Despite his sobriety, she initially rejected having anything to do with him outside of work.

Even though she relented and accepted his marriage proposal three months later, she gave him an ultimatum - a very long engagement. If he messed up, she would be gone.

Said RDJ to The Hollywood Reporter: "Thank God for that. If she knew the depths of my depravity, we would not be sitting here. She is the font of all good things."

In a recent interview with Los Angeles Times, RDJ called her "his true North".

She's humble

Susan is also reputed to be a tenacious career counsellor for her husband. She described RDJ to BuzzFeed News as having "innate creativity" and an "incredible mind".

Even before Iron Man sent RDJ's career into the stratospheric zone, she was the one who got him the role of Sherlock Holmes after director Guy Ritchie sought her for casting advice.

Despite facilitating one of Hollywood's greatest comebacks, Susan is extremely private. She rarely does interviews and seldom walks red carpets.

She told The Hollywood Reporter: "There can only be one rock star in our relationship.

"I would rather have someone compliment me when I'm out of the room than to my face, whereas Robert is the opposite. So I'm happy to support him."

She's savvy

Setting up Team Downey was the perfect solution for the couple to mix business with pleasure.

The Judge, Susan told LA Times, was "a passion project", which she secured in the midst of Iron Man madness a few years back.

Though Team Downey is developing the third Sherlock Holmes instalment, Susan is not just securing star vehicles for her husband.

The company is also working on a project about World War II naval carrier the Indianapolis, and a new take on Pinocchio is in the works.

Susan is looking also into making independent films that her husband could produce or even write.


This article was first published on Oct 15, 2014.
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