Gae Exton, Reeve's partner at the time, gave birth to their son, Matthew Exton Reeve, on December 20, 1979, at Welbeck Hospital in London, England. After finishing Superman II, the family left London and rented a house in Hollywood Hills. Soon after, Reeve grew tired of Hollywood and took the family to Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he played the lead in the successful play The Front Page, directed by Robert Allan Ackerman. Later in the year, Reeve played a disabled Vietnam veteran in the Broadway play Fifth of July. In his research for the role, he was coached by an amputee on how to walk on artificial legs.
Reeve was a licensed pilot and flew solo across the Atlantic twice. During the filming of Superman III, he raced his sailplane in his free time. He joined The Tiger Club, a group of aviators who had served in the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain. They let him participate in mock dogfights in vintage World War I combat planes. The producers of the film The Aviator approached him without knowing that he was a pilot and that he knew how to fly a Stearman, the plane used in the film. Reeve readily accepted the role. The film was shot in Kranjska Gora, and Reeve did all of his stunts. At this time, Gae Exton gave birth to their second child, Alexandra Exton Reeve, in December 1983 at Welbeck Hospital in London, England.
Five months after separating from Gae Exton and after filming Switching Channels, he went back to Williamstown with his children, Matthew and Alexandra, who were seven and three respectively.