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Following OnlyFans Debacle, Denise Richards Opens Up About Charlie Sheen Divorce Being 'Way Worse' Than What People Thought

Denise Richards in Killer Cheer Mom
(Image credit: Lifetime)

Denise Richards has been as busy as ever with her TV career in recent years, from roles on The Bold and the Beautiful to the upcoming financial TV drama Paper Empire to no less than two Lifetime Original movies involving cheerleaders in violent situations. (To say nothing of her short-but-drama-filled Real Housewives run.) But no acting was involved when the actress attracted tons of attention earlier this year by joining the social site OnlyFans after her and Charlie Sheen’s daughter initially caused waves with her own profile on the subscription-based platform. Now, with all that back-and-forth in the past, Richards has reflected on the difficult journey through her highly public divorce from the former Two and a Half Men star.

Appearing on the podcast Divorced Not Dead, as hosted by Caroline Stanbury, Denise Richards was asked if she was comfortable talking about what unraveled her marriage with Charlie Sheen, and the actress started off by saying:

Ugh. Well, many things. [Laughs.] I don’t regret my marriage to Charlie obviously at all, because I really do believe that he and I were brought together to have our daughters. I feel that was not a good marriage and relationship. I filed for divorce when I was six months pregnant, which was very difficult. I didn’t realize the impact of how public that would be, and how it would affect my career personally. Because I thought, this is my personal life, why is this affecting my professional life. I think I was on the tabloid covers for about two years straight during that time, and it was incredibly difficult. I was also dealing with my mother who was very sick, and ended up passing away. And I had these two babies.

There, Denise Richards made it clear that despite all of the hardships and stress and other foul feelings involved with her split from Charlie Sheen, the fact that they created beautiful and loving children together is enough to justify the messier times. Of course, that viewpoint was probably easier to come around to through hindsight, seeing as how Richards was very much still pregnant with their second daughter Lola Rose at the point when she filed divorce paperwork. (Which was later followed by her filing a restraining order against Sheen, with his alleged death threats against her as the impetus.)

With all the additional mental struggles from pregnancy hormones and having a sick mother, Denise Richards would have already been in a rough spot without divorce issues, or even with fairly traditional divorce issues. Unfortunately, her split with Charlie Sheen was as complicated as it gets, and that was quite a few years before his controversial exit from Two and a Half Men and all the problematic behavior (and accusatory comments) that came before and after. And so with everything being so out in the open at that point, Richards talked about how her instinct at the time was to retreat inward, saying: 

It was really so hard for me, and I just really had to go put myself in a bubble. Because I think many women and men deal with this, and I could have gone one way or the other as far as going into a dark space. I have a strong family unit around me, and I just thought, ‘You know what? I’m gonna block out the noise, and this is actually a lesson to me to learn to be my true authentic self, and be me.’ And it was the first time in my life I had ever gotten any bad press, and had stuff out there, and people were saying that I was trying to take down — Charlie was on Two and a Half Men, he had a huge series. It was really awful, and the behind-the-scenes stuff was way worse than what was out there.

As ridiculous and over-the-top as tabloid reports can be, there’s often a germ of truth to the claims, but those stories apparently didn’t hold a candle to what was actually happening between Denise Richards and Charlie Sheen. Understandably, the actress didn’t go into painful recollections in that moment, considering she’s likely spent years trying to compartmentalize those complicated emotions and memories. 

Ultimately, Denise Richards fell back on her instincts, which were to deflect all the negativity of that situation away from her children and others. She continued, reflecting on how fans can sympathize with that troublesome time in her life, even if others’ problems don’t fully compare with her rumor-sparking divorce. In her words:

I had to just protect, at the end of the day, who’s really there: my family and my kids. And I think that’s what got me through the initial part of the divorce. But as years had gone on, my relationship with Charlie had evolved, and there was a time where I had his sons for over a year from a previous marriage that he had kids with this woman who has had struggles with some things. You know, I’m a family girl, and I just wanted to keep the peace with kids. The hardest part — thank God my kids were really young to not be able to read and hear certain things. But a lot of people couldn’t relate to going through a divorce with someone and being in the public eye, too; they can’t relate to that, but they can relate to the feelings of what that is like when your life does completely crumble and fall apart, and trying to build yourself back up.

While it may not have been the easiest road to travel down, Denise Richards has certainly come a long way since her divorce with Charlie Sheen was finalized back in 2006. And even if she still has some underlying feelings about it all — she previously stated that split was what sparked her to join the Real Housewives franchise — Richards and her daughters are seemingly doing as well as ever now. 

Denise Richards has quite a few projects on the horizon, with her family comedy Junkyard Dogs having debuted on August 5. She signed on for the new series Second Chance soon after joining OnlyFans, and will also be seen this year and next in the roller rink caper Saturday at the Starlight, in the dark thriller Wickensburg, the housekeeper-centric thriller Among the Ashes, and the military faith-based sequel Angels Fallen 2: Warriors of Peace. While waiting for any and all of those projects to come out, head to our 2022 TV premiere schedule to see what’s on the way soon. 

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.