Hilary: Chad's Substance Abuse Caused Split

"When I found out it was such a shock," she reveals in a new interview

Chad Lowe’s “substance-abuse” problem was at the heart of the reason that his marriage to Hilary Swank broke up, the double Oscar-winning actress reveals in a candid new interview.

“I knew something was happening but I didn’t know what,” Swank tells Vanity Fair magazine. She also says her ex has been fighting his problem for years, and he is sober now. She does not name what substance he abused.

But, she says in excerpts from the interview obtained by the New York Post, “When I found out, it was such a shock because I never thought he’d keep something from me. And yet, on another level, it was a confirmation of something I was feeling that was keeping us from being completely solid.”

She goes on to say, “I don’t want to make it seem like that’s the sole reason; there were other factors. But that just kind of blew it open. It made me look at things a lot deeper. That’s when you realize it’s not going to work.”

Representatives for Lowe, 38, could not be reached for comment on the article.

Swank, 31, who took home Hollywood’s highest prize for Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby, denies that the success of her career was a factor in their breakup.

“Chad is very supportive of my career,” she says in the interview. “He is, I think, genuinely happy for my success . . . I think that any frustration for him stemmed from the lack of opportunities in his own career.”

As for her reaction upon learning of her husband’s habit, she says: “When I found out, I wanted to be there, I knew it was the most important time of his life. That’s when he needed me most.”

His problem, she adds, is “an enormous obstacle to overcome, and he’s doing it. He’s living a sober life. I know how difficult it is, and I’m really proud of his sobriety.”

The couple – who announced their separation in January, then looked to be reconciling, only to announce their divorce in May – first met at a 1992 Hollywood Athletic Club bash. “We just started talking,” Swank recalled for PEOPLE in 2003. She called it “love at first sight.”

Said Lowe, “It was like the old clich where you see somebody, lock eyes across the room, and time stands still. … 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.”

It was a first marriage for both. They have no children.

“It takes two to make something work or not work. I’m a person with my own faults and troubles,” Swank now says. “In the end, it just didn’t work, but I would never look back on this relationship as failed. I look at it as 131/2 years of success.”

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