'It took courage!' Kiefer Sutherland praises Julia Roberts for calling off '90s wedding...but doesn't mention why she left

In 1991, Julia Roberts, 23, dumped fiancé Kiefer Sutherland 3 days before their wedding for his friend Jason Patric. Now, 25 years on, Kiefer thanks Julia, 49. Her courage to call off the wedding showed they weren't right for each other. The "it couple" split publicly but Kiefer bears no ill will. Though humiliated then, he grew to appreciate Julia's good judgment and willingness to embarrass them both rather than enter a marriage doomed to fail. Youth, fame and passion led them astray; maturity brought perspective, allowing Kiefer to see Julia left  because their love wasn't built to last, not due to cold feet but warm wisdom beyond her years.

'I think she was being realistic for herself. I think that's much better,' he told Jess Cagle during The Jess Cagle Interview on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network. 

'It took courage!' Kiefer Sutherland praises Julia Roberts for cancelling their 90s wedding in a new interview... but doesn't mention that she left him for Jason Patric; the two are pictured at the Young Gungs II premiere in 1990

He doesn't even mention Patric, instead blaming his and Julia's 'youth' - she was just 23 when she ditched him, while he was a year older.

'We were young and we were both very much in love, we had decided that we wanted to get married, but then this other thing kind of took over,' said the now 56-year-old.

'She was arguably the most famous woman in the world, and this wedding that was supposed to be something between the two of us became something so big.'

Moved on: Julia and Jason Patric dated for just a year after she ditched Kiefer to be with him; the two are pictyred at the premiere of Rush in 1992

Julia and Kiefer's lavish 1991 wedding was set for a studio soundstage turned garden paradise, with 150 guests and costly details.

Bridesmaid dresses, dyed shoes and Julia's $8K gown were ready; only the bride was not. Though all seemed idyllic, Julia knew better; at 23 her wisdom prevailed. She called off the wedding, embarrassing herself and Kiefer rather than enter a marriage not built to last. The public breakup of Hollywood's "it couple" stunned all but Julia, who bravely chose hard truth over keeping up appearances. Her courage spared them both a divorce and proved maturity beyond her years. 

Weeks after the 1991 Oscars, Julia ended her engagement to Kiefer 3 days before their wedding.

A friend called Kiefer as Julia left for Ireland with Jason Patric, chased by press.  Kiefer says their nuptials had become too big, overwhelming them. At 23, Julia showed wisdom beyond her years. Despite fame and a splashy $8K gown, she knew their love wasn't enough. Rather than wed in a blaze of glory, she flew off with another man, choosing possible heartbreak and public scorn over a marriage built on passion alone. It was a courageous escape, however reckless and humiliating. Her bold leap spared them both sure divorce, teaching Kiefer love must be built to last. 

'And then, in the middle of that, I think she had the courage – it wasn't what she wanted to do, in the end,' he said.

'And I think it took a lot of courage, even amongst all of that other stuff, to be able to say, "I can't do this."'

A year earlier, Julia had ended her engagement to her Steel Magnolias co-star Dylan McDermott to be with Kiefer, who at the time was still married to Camelia Kath, the mother of his only child.

What a handsome pair: The couple are seen at the Sleeping With The Enemy premiere in 1991; but behind the scenes their romance was not a simple one

Accepting her 1991 Golden Globe, Julia thanked "best friend" Kiefer, calling him "blue-eyed, green-eyed.

" Though their love story seemed a fairy tale, behind the scenes troubles brewed. Months before wedding, Kiefer left Julia's mansion, staying in a seedy hotel to "research a role." There he hung out with go-go dancer Raven. Julia learned of this side to Kiefer and realized their passion was skin deep. Her dream wedding became a nightmare as she saw the man she loved was not who she thought. Rather than turn a blind eye, Julia courageously called off their lavish nuptials. It was a painful awakening that spared her a troubled marriage. 

As they are today: Kiefer says he has no hard feelings toward Julia, who he thinks showed 'courage' by ending their relationship

Amanda "Raven" Rice sold her story of Kiefer's betrayal. Kiefer returned to Julia, who spent days in hospital, said due to flu. At 24, Kiefer had history of alcohol issues,with a 1987 DUI. Julia realized Kiefer's demons and infidelity were threats she couldn't ignore. Her hospital visit was no fluke but collapse from stress and heartbreak. She emerged with clarity to call off their wedding, grasping she couldn't save Kiefer, only spare herself a troubled life as his wife.

Their beautiful love story had turned dark nightmare; there was just one way out. Her courage left Kiefer and likely spared them both destruction. 

But Kiefer didn't mention the drama as he talked to Cagle, saying simply: 'I'm going to leave it at that.'

Old pals: Kiefer shows pictures of his then newborn daughter Sarah to Jason Patric in 1988

Iconic: Kiefer and Patric in The Lost Boys in 1987

After Julia, Kiefer married Kelly Winn, separating in 1999.

He dated Bo Derek. Julia's fling with Patric ended quickly. At 48, a short marriage to Lyle Lovett dissolved before cameraman Danny Moder, married since 2002, with 3 kids. Shockingly,Kiefer and Patric salvaged their friendship, acting together in 2012. Julia and Kiefer moved on from youthful mistakes. Their breakup,once so painful,faded into wisdom, each finding the right partner in the end. As Kiefer battled alcoholism,Julia grew up fast in a troubled time,calling off their wedding to forge her own path. At 23 she showed courage beyond her years, walking away from the kind of love that destroys lives and instead embracing a patient search for a mature,lasting relationship - one built to endure all of life's ups and downs. 

Patched things up: Perhaps surprisingly, it appears Kiefer and Patric even managed to salvage their friendship - the two starred on Broadway together four years agoi; they are seen in 2013

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