Denise Richards Speaks Out
Her big break came with a starring role in The World Is Not Enough, but Denise catapulted to superstardom when she caught the eye of A-lister Charlie Sheen. He had a reputation as a bad-boy womanizer, but that didn't stop the couple from marrying in 2002. They were red carpet regulars and made headlines when their first baby was born in 2004.
But only a year later, when Denise was six months pregnant with their second daughter, she abruptly filed for divorce. It marked the beginning of what has been called the nastiest divorce and custody battle in Hollywood history. From accusations of drugs, prostitutes and pornography, to suggestions that Denise stole her best friend's husband, the battle raged on for more than four years.
When Denise filed for divorce, she claimed she was doing so because she could no longer accept what she called Charlie's abusive and threatening manner. "There was a lot of verbal abuse," Denise says. "He never hit me; it was a lot of verbal. Arguments got heated. That scared me."
There were moments when Denise was so frightened that she says she filed a restraining order. "I was terrified to file because [it] was going to be public, and I was scared of the outcome and the consequences of that," she says.
Charlie has repeatedly denied Denise Richards's allegations, including her accusations of abuse.
Eventually, the relationship took a turn for the worse, but Denise says it was still hard to leave. "I loved him, and I felt guilty. When I did file for divorce, I was six months pregnant. Our oldest daughter was 9 months old," she says. "It's so easy to be on the outside and judge and say, 'I would never be that person if anyone treated me [poorly].' But, truly, until you're in those shoes...I loved him. I wanted it to work. He's got a lot of wonderful qualities about him."
Much of dealing with divorce has been about what's best for her 4- and 5-year-old daughters, Sammy and Lola. "A lot of people said I was being manipulative and conniving and controlling. That wasn't the case. I think anyone in their right mind as a parent would have done what I did. My whole thing was about the girls and keeping them safe," she says.
Now that she and Charlie have achieved some peace in their relationship, Denise says she does trust him with the girls. "All of this has been a work in progress, and it's up and down."
Charlie denies he used a knife to threaten his wife. He is due to appear in court in February. Brooke's attorney, Yale Galanter, said in a statement that "[Charlie and Brooke] want to try and resolve their issues."
Denise says she heard from Charlie on Christmas Day, when he called from jail to wish his daughters a merry Christmas. "I thought it was odd that he was calling collect, and he said: 'Yeah, they won't let me use my cell phone here. I'm in jail,'" Denise says. "He told me that he and Brooke had gotten into a fight and she called the cops."
When Denise first learned that Charlie was remarrying, she says she hoped his new relationship would be different from their marriage. "She was going to be, and is, my daughter's stepmom. So I want that to be a healthy marriage," she says. "That helps everyone."