Thwack! … thwack! … thwack! …
Watch Chris Connelly's full interview tonight on 20/20 at 10 p.m.
With his smooth, left-handed swing, Charlie Sheen can hit a baseball with the authority of one who's spent a lifetime loving the game. Sheen knows that in baseball even the best hitters fail more than they succeed — but the game, like life, offers second chances.
Now when he takes his cuts at the plate, as he did on a brilliant afternoon in Central Park, Sheen says he can savor the sweet taste of professional and personal redemption. "I feel like I'm living somebody else' s life, you know?" he says. "It's the life I've always dreamed of."
It can be hard to imagine this healthy and vibrant 37-year-old Charlie Sheen as the same man who descended into a haze of drink, drugs, and dissipation — and who came close to becoming another sad statistic in Hollywood's litany of lost promise. As he says, "I went as low as a guy can go and still have a heartbeat."
Love at First Sight
But after facing up to his addictions, without losing his sense of humor, this Hollywood player really is safe at home, thanks to a revivified career and his stunning spouse, actress Denise Richards, now pregnant with the couple's first child.
Asked what's sexy about being married to a pregnant woman, Sheen has to consider the answer for a moment, as he sits alongside Richards, 32, on a sofa in their Southern California hideaway. "It's so new and it's so different. Uh, so I can't really put my finger on what is sexy about it."
"My breasts are fuller," offers Richards helpfully.
"They're huge," agrees Sheen, as he and Richards laugh.
Sheen says he was smitten pretty much from the moment he first laid eyes on Richards — at a casting session for the romantic comedy, Good Advice.
"When we first met and Denise walked in the room," Sheen says, "suddenly English wasn't my first language."
He turns to her. "You're the prettiest woman I've ever laid eyes on … and that you don't know that is insane!"
Richards says the feeling was immediately mutual. "He's got the most beautiful face of a man … and the kindest. He's just gorgeous. It was hard for me to do scenes with him and ..."
" Not want me?" Sheen interjects. "You wanted me, didn't you?"
"I did, I did!" she replies. "We had to do a love scene. I was so nervous, and I couldn't stop laughing during the scene. I was just so embarrassed, 'cause I was just so attracted to him."
So what's it like to do a love scene with a woman you're really attracted to, but whom you haven't discussed your feelings for yet? "Pretty surreal," says Sheen. "It's godd--n frustrating, that's what it is."
A Powerful Example for Other ‘Bad Boys’
By the time Richards and Sheen finally connected a few months later — during her guest-starring stint on the sitcom Spin City — the frustration was over and the romance was on. From the start, they were a stunning couple — Richards, the luscious, full-lipped Bond babe; Sheen, the onetime Hollywood hell-raiser.
It's a big transition from Sheen's days of womanizing … yet as Richards interjects, "Who wouldn't have? Who wouldn't that can have anything and all different ones and every fantasy? He was young.
"Lucky me," she adds with a smile, "I married a man who was very experienced with women."