TV mogul Chuck Lorre has broken his silence about his bust-up with former Two And A Half Men star Charlie Sheen, revealing he feared his old friend was going to die.
Lorre and the producers of the sitcom fired Sheen in March, following a messy feud, and he was replaced by Ashton Kutcher - and now the TV writer has gone public with the reasons behind his decisions and his war of words with his former leading man.
He tells TV Guide, "The (studio and the network) chose to make a moral decision as opposed to a financial one. This was not a game. This was drug addiction writ large. This was big-time cocaine, and in his own words, an 'epic drug run' that could have ended with either his death or someone else's.
"He (Sheen) was a great friend and partner for eight years and every time he got himself into trouble, we believed that there was healing that was going to come. I certainly believed that sobriety is something that he wants in his life, and I was wrong.
"We intervened all the time. I was so afraid my friend was going to die. When we would shoot a show on a Friday night, there was always that 'I'll see you Monday - I hope.' The holidays were the worst, because those long stretches of time were the ones we feared the most.
"I didn't want to be writing a sitcom while my friend died... There was a tragedy unfolding right in front of us. There was violence and blackouts. On a certain level, if you're looking the other way, you're responsible... You couldn't do that much cocaine and work. It was falling apart. It was heartbreaking."
And Lorre admits that Sheen's public attacks cut him deeply: "That broke my heart, too. I thought we were on the same road together. I mean, we held hands and prayed when his sons were born premature. There's that element of Charlie (that's) admirable, and he was the kind of guy you wanted to hang out with. He was a special guy. But, bottom line, special guys are not immune to drug addiction."
The pair no longer speak but Lorre insists he bears no ill will to his former friend, adding, "I hope he's happy, I hope he's healthy. I hope he's able to be there for his kids... The man was my friend. I cared for him deeply. We had a great time. We succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."