By CLAIRE NEWBON
Naveen Andrews, star of the hit TV drama Lost, has opened his heart about a booze and heroin addiction that nearly ruined his life.
The shocking confession comes as the 36-year-old actor, who plays former Iraqi soldier Sayid in the hit ABC series, faces claims that he got a student actress pregnant while cheating on his long-term love, movie star Barbara Hershey, 57.
London-born Naveen, who continues to share his Los Angeles home with Barbara, revealed that he started dabbling in drink and drugs as he grew up in Britain.
“London does have really bad memories for me,” said the actor, who moved to the U.S. in 1998.
“I blew it in the ’90s in England because of my drinking habits. There’s no way I could have lived there and stayed sober.
“I was born in 1969 and it wasn’t pleasant during my childhood. It was like one big pub. That’s the problem.”
But drink was not Naveen’s only vice and he became hooked on heroin while in India filming the 1996 movie Kama Sutra: A Tale Of Love.
“I was on everything,” he recalled. “In India, the heroin is pure.”
The star’s addiction became so bad that by the time the film was released he had earned a bad reputation and movie directors stopped calling.
But, in a decision that saved his life — and his career — two years later he moved to the U.S. to star in the goofball comedy Mighty Joe Young.
Around the same time, he met Barbara, star of the movies Beaches and Hannah And Her Sisters, as they worked on the independent film Drowning On Dry Land.
“Now I’m in the States I realize there are alternatives to the way I’d be living over there,” he said. “I am profoundly grateful to have got out.”
Lost — a drama about a band of plane crash survivors cast away on a mysterious island — has been a runaway success. Its first series pulled in 20 million viewers and is up for 12 Emmy awards. But, just as Naveen should be savoring his success, he has been hit by claims that he fathered a love child during a year-long illicit affair.
On August 14, mature student Elena Eustache said she was six months pregnant with Naveen’s baby.
She claims he walked out on Barbara after the couple shared a passionate affair as he filmed Lost in Hawaii.
“He was the best in bed — it was ecstasy,” said Elena, 30, who nicknamed the star Chocolate Man. “He used to tell me I should be in the Kama Sutra.”
Elena also treasures the text messages she says Naveen sent her, including: “It’s crazy on set. I will call later tonight my darling. xxx”
Elena, at acting school in New York, alleges she was on the Pill but accidentally became pregnant. She claims Naveen went running back to Barbara after he found out.
“When I told Naveen in February that I was going to have his child, he freaked out,” she said.
“I haven’t heard from him since and I’m heartbroken.” Although Elena has threatened to conduct a DNA test once the baby is born, Naveen has denied he is the father and has described her claims as “ridiculous.”
It is not the first time the star — who played bomb disposal expert Kip in the Oscar-winning movie The English Patient — has had to face controversy over fathering an illegitimate child.
In 1985, Naveen left home at age 16 after having an affair with his married math teacher, Geraldine Feakins, who was 15 years his senior. Their six-year relationship produced a son, Jaisal, now 13, who continues to live with his mother in Britain.
“I’ve always liked women who are older,” Naveen said. “They seem to know who they are and they’ve lived.”
Barbara, who has a son Tom, 31, from her relationship with Kung Fu star David Carradine in the 1970s, has said: “Naveen loves women. He just doesn’t exclude older women. Once I realized [the age gap] was not a problem for him, I relaxed about it.”