ALISON BOSHOFF: How Lily bloomed again

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Few transformations, it must be said, have been quite so remarkable. Pictures of Lily Allen’s second wedding in Las Vegas this week — the bride wearing custom ivory Dior and a veil — simply radiate joy.

The singer, 35, tied the knot on Monday night with U.S. actor David Harbour, 45, at a ceremony presided over by an Elvis impersonator. A stranger off the street acted as a witness.

Her two daughters, Ethel, eight, and Marnie, seven, were bridesmaids and the only guests in the Graceland Wedding chapel.

Afterwards, the party visited a nearby In-N-Out burger for a meal, where the famous ‘Double Double’ with fries costs about £4, and sat outside the fast-food venue on a bench.

The groom, star of the Netflix cult sci-fi series Stranger Things, wore a smart navy suit and a look of equally unconfined joy.

Lily Allen, 35, tied the knot on Monday night with U.S. actor David Harbour, 45, at a ceremony presided over by an Elvis impersonator. A stranger off the street acted as a witness

Lily Allen, 35, tied the knot on Monday night with U.S. actor David Harbour, 45, at a ceremony presided over by an Elvis impersonator. A stranger off the street acted as a witness

He wrote on his Instagram account: ‘In a wedding officiated by the king himself, the people’s princess wed her devoted, low born, but kind credit card holder in a beautiful ceremony lit by the ashen skies courtesy of a burning state miles away in the midst of a global pandemic. Refreshments were served at a small reception following.’

The happy nuptial scenes are all the more remarkable given the bride and groom’s respective pasts.

For in becoming Mrs Harbour, Lily Allen has found a man once as troubled as herself.

Lily used the name Lily Cooper on the marriage certificate — her name from her previous union to ex-husband Sam Cooper.

They wed in 2011, but divorced in 2017 after Lily suffered from a slew of mental health issues, sparked by the tragedy of the stillbirth of their son in 2010.

A recovering bulimic who has suffered from depression, Lily went on to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, post-natal depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD and attachment disorder.

She also abused drink and drugs — to the extent that she once knocked herself out when straddling actor Orlando Bloom at a Halloween party, and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin tried to stage an intervention. 

She collapsed at Glastonbury festival in 2015, passing out on the grass after partying hard with friends. At her lowest ebb, she hired female prostitutes while on tour to keep her company.

Now, though, after years of recovery and the publication of her tell-all autobiography, Lily is finally sober. She celebrated a year of sobriety on July 28 this year.

The happy nuptial scenes are all the more remarkable given the bride and groom's respective pasts. Pictured: Lily in 2009

The happy nuptial scenes are all the more remarkable given the bride and groom’s respective pasts. Pictured: Lily in 2009

Lily used the name Lily Cooper on the marriage certificate — her name from her previous union to ex-husband Sam Cooper. Pictured: Lily is carried out of an awards ceremony in 2008

Lily used the name Lily Cooper on the marriage certificate — her name from her previous union to ex-husband Sam Cooper. Pictured: Lily is carried out of an awards ceremony in 2008

And the start of this journey coincides almost exactly with her meeting and starting to date David Harbour.

It should be no surprise that she’s needed to be sober to date him, because he has been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous for more than two decades.

And just like Lily, he has been diagnosed bipolar and required medication.

Indeed, friends of the star indicate that in Harbour she has found someone who can truly understand her demons as he has walked such a similar path herself.

He was even voluntarily admitted to a psychiatric facility some years ago after he thought he was ‘in touch with God’.

One friend said yesterday: ‘He is very clean-living and that is one of the first things that we all noticed about him. We think that must be where she got her new habits from.

‘He is a lovely guy and has been quite grounding for her. It is a story of redemption.

‘She has been glowing and fizzing about the romance. They have been engaged for months, since the spring. She is like a different woman, very very loved up. We all wish her well.’

Her two daughters, Ethel, eight, and Marnie, seven, were bridesmaids and the only guests in the Graceland Wedding chapel

Her two daughters, Ethel, eight, and Marnie, seven, were bridesmaids and the only guests in the Graceland Wedding chapel

The groom, star of the Netflix cult sci-fi series Stranger Things, wore a smart navy suit and a look of equally unconfined joy

The groom, star of the Netflix cult sci-fi series Stranger Things, wore a smart navy suit and a look of equally unconfined joy

Few would disagree with the sentiment. For since Lily burst onto the scene with her debut album, Alright, Still, fame has conspired to destroy her, bringing to the fore insecurities remaining from her rackety upbringing.

She has described her parents as not being very good at parenting, and she may have a point.

When she was a toddler, her father, the hell-raising actor Keith Allen, used to take her to festivals in her pushchair — using her to lure punters to his sideline business of selling the drug amyl nitrate.

Her parents split up when she was four and she has seen little of Allen since. She says she has spent more time walking her dogs than she has with her father in her entire life.

Her mother also had drug issues and went to rehab.

Lily became a star at 21 and ran with wild crowd, including musician Jamie Hince (the ex Mr Kate Moss), model Daisy Lowe and music producer Mark Ronson — but her vulnerability and self-loathing was never far from the surface.

She was pictured looking drunk in Cannes and had to be carried out of the Glamour Awards in 2008 after snorting a line of the tranquilliser ketamine, which she had thought was cocaine.

In 2009, after the release of her second album, she announced that she had decided to give up being a pop star as it had brought her so much misery. She was bulimic and popping sleeping pills at the time.

She was also dating Sam Cooper, the Harrow-educated friend of a friend. She was six months’ pregnant when they lost their baby boy, George, in 2010.

They married in 2011 when she was pregnant with daughter Ethel. Ethel needed two operations as a baby and was tube fed until she was about seven months old.

After the birth of second daughter, Marnie, in 2013, Lily was hit by post-natal depression combined with a dependence on alcohol.

Afterwards, the party visited a nearby In-N-Out burger for a meal, where the famous 'Double Double' with fries costs about £4, and sat outside the fast-food venue on a bench

Afterwards, the party visited a nearby In-N-Out burger for a meal, where the famous ‘Double Double’ with fries costs about £4, and sat outside the fast-food venue on a bench

She went on tour with her album Sheezus, but said: ‘I was ashamed of everything that was happening, and so, on the road while on tour, I began drinking more. That, combined with being away from Marnie and my elder daughter for long periods of time, made me feel even worse.

‘I worried that I was touring for such extended stretches that my bond with my daughters would be broken.

‘At the end of the tour, I was actually creating reasons not to go home because I couldn’t deal with them preferring their dad to me. It was the culmination of all the internal shame I’d been building up. When I did get home, my marriage ended, and I hit rock bottom.’

While on tour, she had cheated on her husband with other men and hired a female sex worker from an agency who visited three or four times. She writes: ‘She was expensive. I didn’t care. I just wanted her to help me feel something.’

She committed herself to six months of complete sobriety, attending 90 dependency meetings in 90 days.

But further trauma was in store.

After she and Cooper agreed to split, Lily was assaulted by a man she only identifies in her autobiography as ‘Record Industry Executive’.

After going out for drinks with him, she woke up to find him trying to have sex with her.

Lily was also stalked by a mentally ill man who broke into her flat in 2016 while she was sleeping, pulled off her duvet and threatened her. She said: ‘I became completely isolated… I just stayed at home, for about two-and-a-half years.’

She emerged to release an album, No Shame, in 2018, but it wasn’t a commercial success and she was dropped by her record label the following year.

After so much trauma who could blame her then for grasping at happiness with such delight?

So who is the man who has swept Lily off her feet?

David Harbour, star of the cult Netflix sci-fi series Stranger Things, has been engaged twice, and had three serious romances.

He remarked, when he was dating Fantastic Beasts actress Alison Sudol, that he is a head-over-heels romantic — which makes perfect sense given that he and Lily have married after a 13-month romance, much of it conducted in lockdown.

He said: ‘I’m easily swept away, but I’m trying not to be as much. I’m better at the fantasy of relationships than I am at the daily real life, but I’m trying to steer myself into a realist.

‘What I find most exciting now is sharp, intelligent, insightful women. People who are deep thinking, who have sort of a weird way of looking at the universe are wildly attractive to me. So if I can find one of those gals who can stand me, then maybe I might have something.’

In Lily, who passionately espouses numerous charitable causes, he surely has found such a kindred spirit.

And like Lily, who has a knack for perpetually creating controversy, Harbour has ‘no filter’ and is habitually outspoken to the point of being argumentative.

Their courtship was greatly complicated by Covid. Initially, Lily flew back and forth to New York to spend time with him and they walked the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards together in January.

He started work on the fourth series of Stranger Things in Atlanta, Georgia, in March this year but the production was quickly shut down.

By April, he was in London, living with Lily and her children. She had complained of the mental strain of lockdown and home schooling and he also said that lockdown on his own was a ‘really bad situation’ for his mental health.

In April, they celebrated his birthday in her kitchen with homemade cake finished off with dinosaur decorations.

At her birthday the following month he was still there, seen on an Instagram video wearing a towelling robe with her mother, film producer Alison Owen, and Lily’s children.

In late August, Lily and David Harbour went to Croatia for a holiday with the girls.

Harbour will now fly from Las Vegas to Atlanta with work due to begin imminently on Stranger Things. Lily and her daughters are expected to return to London, where they are at school.

No doubt the combination of travel restrictions due to Covid and Harbour’s work schedule will make the early months of their married life tricky.

How, you wonder, will these two high-maintenance artists manage to make it work?

Harbour, once a jobbing actor who had cause to worry about paying the bills before the series began, has now been made so wealthy and famous by the show that he couldn’t walk away.

He got an impressive £61,000 an episode in the first series. This rose in seasons two and three to £269,000 an episode — that’s more than £2 million per series. 

He is one of the three best-paid actors on the show, sharing that honour with British teen star Millie Bobby Brown and Winona Ryder.

In total, he’s reportedly been paid nearly £5 million so far for the role. Not bad for a boy from suburban White Plains, New York. His father was an estate agent. Rebellious David despised the conformity and comfort.

As he made his way as an actor in his 20s, he was a heavy drinker. ‘I was the life of the party. Then I was a jerk.’

He enrolled in Alcoholics Anonymous in his early 20s, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 25.

He said: ‘Here’s the interesting thing — something I’ve never truly spoken about publicly. I was actually into this Catholicism thing . . . and I was sober for like a year-and-a-half. I actually did have a manic episode. I was diagnosed as bipolar.

‘It was like I had all the answers suddenly, but the interesting thing about it was that I realised I don’t really need them. That I have the capacity to see ‘the elves’ in the corners of the room if I really allow myself to go there.’

He added: ‘I have one thing to say about the mental asylum. I’ve romanticised two things in my life and both have fallen short.

‘One is being in a mental asylum — really not as fun as you think it is.’

A happy ending for two troubled stars is surely long overdue. 

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