Who: Emmy-winning actor Chad Lowe, 52, and two-time Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank, 46.
How They Met: According to Swank, she and Lowe met at a party in 1992 that she happened to be attending with Growing Pains co-star Leonardo DiCaprio, an experience she described to People as “love at first sight.”
“It was like the old cliche where you see somebody, lock eyes across the room, and time stands still,” Lowe recalled. “I said, ‘I would love just to take you to lunch.’ Then I worked my way up to dinner. We had lunch, we had dinner and then some.”
After several years together, Lowe and Swank wed in 1997.
"I was never one of those girls who dreamed about marriage and planned her wedding,” Swank told Vanity Fair nearly a decade later. “I thought, I want to be an actress! I want to focus on my career. I'm a sponge; I want to explore and to learn. Here I am, world! But when you're not looking, sometimes that's when it comes to you."
Why We Loved Them: The reasons are truly myriad. First off, no one had more fun at Fashion Week than these two. What are they whispering about?? We are all Jessica Alba.
Though rumors of spousal jealousy ran rampant during the 2000 awards season (and after), it was always outwardly clear that Lowe and Swank had an abundance of respect and admiration for one another. Tears streamed down Lowe’s face as he watched his wife deliver her first Oscars acceptance speech. Even after Swank infamously forgot to thank Lowe during said speech, he still stood in her corner, explaining years later that he “didn’t feel forgotten” during the ordeal. “I felt bad for her because I knew immediately,” he said. “I could see in her eye the second she was off [stage] that she realized that,” he told Larry King. “I felt for her more than I felt for myself.”
Swank made sure to thank Lowe before anyone else when she took accepted her second Oscar in 2005.
When They Peaked: The year was 1994. The suits were oversized; the haircuts were matching.
The Breakup: Their relationship persevered through an apartment renovation, an award show gaffe, and the cursed image above, so we really thought Lowe and Swank were forever. But, alas, in 2006 news of their breakup circulated. In January, their plans to separate were made public. When quizzed about “the single life” on the red carpet at the Golden Globes, Swank clarified that she was not single. “We’re trying to work our marriage out,” she told Isaac Mizrahi.
Five months later, the marriage was officially over. “They continue to be friends and have the utmost respect for one another,” the couple’s lawyer commented at the time.
That summer, Swank opened up about the split in a Vanity Fair cover story. “Marriage is something we both took really seriously,” the actress told the outlet. “I believed in my marriage; I never, ever thought I would get a divorce. That's why I tried so hard to make it work. I went down every road possible. For me, this is something I've been living with for probably five years.”
When asked why her nearly 9-year marriage came to an end, Swank said, “If I had to sum it up to one particular thing, I would say that we grew apart,” adding, "But there's never one thing. It's an accumulation of things that make it slowly start to drift apart.”
One of said “things” was Lowe’s substance abuse issues, which Swank confirmed to the public in the Vanity Fair profile. Though Lowe was three years sober at the time of the 2006 interview, Swank said the real issue was that he had kept his addiction from her. "When I found out, it was such a shock, because I never thought he'd keep something from me,” she explained. “And yet, on another level, it was a confirmation of something I was feeling that was keeping us from being completely solid.”
"Would I say that his substance-abuse problem caused our divorce? No. Would I say that his substance-abuse problem helped us? Absolutely not.”
Despite it all, Swank maintained that “there’s so much love” between her and Lowe still. “I definitely instigated this, but it ended up being mutual. It's been a long time coming, but I still wouldn't have ended it any sooner.”
While Lowe agreed with Swank’s sentiment about their bond (“She was the love of my life, that's not something you just shove off. I will always love her.”), in an interview with Extra he noted his disappointment that “details of our relationship became kind of public fodder."
“I was disappointed with her decision to go public with my sobriety,” he clarified to People. “I don’t deny that I had a problem and that it strained our relationship. Was this the reason it ended? No.”
The following year, in an interview with Larry King, Lowe said that he thought Swank probably “regrets” outing his addiction problems to Vanity Fair. “She’s a really special person,” he said. “She’s got a great heart.” That said, he “felt like it was for me to discuss if I wanted to discuss it.”
Four years after the split, Swank told InStyle that she’d carry Lowe “in my heart forever,” adding, “he’s a part of me.”
“A lot of people look at divorce as a failure. I really look at my relationship with Chad as 14 years of success,” she explained.
Where They Are Now: Lowe wed his producer wife Kim Painter in 2010. They share three daughters together: Mabel, 11, Fiona, 7, and Nixie, 4.
Lowe was most recently seen on the CW’s Supergirl, in which he has a recurring role.
Swank married entrepreneur Philip Schneider in August 2018.
Next up for the actress is Netflix astronaut drama series Away, followed closely by the release of thriller Fatale.
#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.
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