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Discovery Access / Focus Features Anthony Bourdain with Ottavia Busia-Bourdain
The new documentary directed by Morgan Neville — centered on the food world's favorite bad boy, who died by suicide in 2018 — is in theaters Friday. It's the first time since Bourdain's death that we hear from his estranged wife, Ottavia Busia-Bourdain, one of many people in the late chef's inner circle who sat for an interview.
Busia, a jiu-jitsu pro, discusses their romantic love story after first being introduced by chef Eric Ripert, and their subsequent separation in 2016. (The two never formally divorced but dated other people and continued to co-parent their daughter, Ariane, now 14.)
"I thought he was going to be this bad boy — a little bit arrogant and not what I was expecting but endearing nonetheless," she says of their early dating life.
The Parts Unknown host had long said he wasn't sure he'd be a great dad, but when he finally settled down, Busia revealed he was over the moon. "Any doubts I may have had, dissipated when I realized how happy he was that he was going to be a father," she says in the film.
But traveling for 250 days out of the year can no doubt take a toll on a relationship, a family. So after nine years of marriage, the pair announced their separation.
"It always seemed like what he wanted was this idyllic picture of family and ordinary life but then when he got it, I don't know if he was ... I don't know. After a while maybe that wasn't enough anymore," she says.
Bourdain entered a whirlwind romance with Italian actress Asia Argento in 2017, and the highs and lows of their relationship are thoroughly documented in Roadrunner. In one particularly heart-wrenching scene, Busia talks about her dynamic with Bourdain post-separation.
"He was not the same person. Something changed and became really heavy but he started going to therapy at a certain point and I thought, 'I can take a step back, I don't have to be like you know always so worried about him,' " she says.
"I feel like that is something that I will always ... I should have kept an eye on him more," she adds through tears.
Anthony Bourdain/Instagram Anthony Bourdain, Ottavia Busia-Bourdain and daughter Ariane
Instead of focusing on his ultimate death, Busia chooses to be grateful for the child they raised together: "I am so lucky because she is the best daughter I could hope for."
"I think this is the last time I'll ever talk publically about it because that's not the way I want to remember him," she adds. "I want to remember when we were together, all the amazing things that we'd done and the amazing person that he was."
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is in theaters now.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "help" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.