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I WAS FLOP AT POP; Sean Maguire tells how singing almost cost him everything.

Byline: RICK FULTON Exclusive

FORMER EastEnders star Sean Maguire admits he nearly lost his family, friends and his career after becoming a pop star.

The 25-year-old actor has bounced back with a starring role in new prime-time American sitcom Off Centre, tipped to be the next Friends, but he admits: "I turned into an a*******.

"I tried to live the life I thought I was supposed to and became a shallow d***.

"I alienated my friends and family because so much happened so fast. I was 18 and so much was expected of me. It was an incredible pressure."

Sean says he enjoyed his three years going around the world, visiting America, Australia and India to promote songs such as Someone To Love. He explains: "I got to see my name on a record, got to play at Wembley and hear my songs on the radio.

"I'm grateful I had that opportunity. I was a young guy who got lured with the good life, money and presents."

There were rumours he was almost addicted to drink and drugs.

Speaking for the first time about his darkest period, the good-looking Essex boy reveals: "It wasn't a major problem, but I have to admit I went I bit further down the road than I'd have preferred.

"I looked rundown and I lost weight, so people assumed I was bang into drugs.

"I wasn't bad, but like everyone in my position, I experimented."

Three years ago, there were fears among his fans that Sean's life could have followed the same disastrous path as his fellow ex-EastEnder Daniella Westbrook, who got so hooked on cocaine that it totally destroyed part of her nose.

Back then, Sean's acting career was going nowhere fast after leaving Albert Square. He'd spent all his money and had split up with his girlfriend of five years, ex-Holby City actress Lisa Faulkner.

Then he was arrested for drink-driving, spent a night in the cells and was banned from driving for 18 months.

It was time for the Catholic boy from Ilford to take stock.

Sean couldn't have had a better start in showbusiness, when at the age of five he played Laurence Olivier's grandson in Voyage Around My Father.

He joined Grange Hill at 10, playing Tegs and at 16 was cast in Waterland with Jeremy Irons. But it was Sean's role as Irish footballer Aidan Brosnan in East-Enders which made him a household name in the early Nineties.

Then he tried to become a pop star. Despite the hype, Sean's debut single, Someone To Love, only made it to No.14 in August 1994, while follow-up tunes such as Take This Time, Suddenly, Now I've Found You and Good Day also failed to dent the Top 10.

His last tune, Today's The Day, in March 1997 only went in at No.27, signalling his days as a pop star were over. He had a couple of acting roles, including a stint in Sunburn with Michelle Collins, before he headed for fame in Hollywood.

THE decision to sort out his life and try his luck in America has paid off - Sean is currently wowing TV viewers in Off Centre, which Warner Bros hope will be the next Friends.

The show, from the makers of American Pie, is currently going head-to-head with Carrie and Co. in the hugely-successful Sex And The City in the Stateside ratings war.

The semi-autobiographical story by Chris Weitz, who went to university in England, is about two friends from Oxford who move to New York and share a plush apartment.

Sean plays a decadent English investment banker called Euan who beds four women in the opening episode.

He says: "Euan earns a lot of money and he's a very confident ladies' man who is continually trying to grab every woman that he possibly can.

"Mike, the other room-mate, is very down-to-earth, works for a charity, has a girlfriend, a stable relationship and he's a nice guy.

"So they're a bit chalk and cheese, but they really care about each other and have a good bond."

Sean admits the role will probably have people shouting at him in the street rather than offering him congratulations - he's a bit of an Oxford cad.

But he says: "I hope people will see him for what he is. He's just a rogue - he's charming and he means no real harm. If anything, he probably just loves women more than anything else on the planet - and he just doesn't see anything wrong with trying to bed all of them."

After the ravishing of baked goods in American Pie, Sean has his fingers crossed that he won't have to do any love scenes with pies or vegetables in the series.

But Sean, who is about to film Prince Charming with Billy Connolly, thinks his experiences as a new boy in Hollywood might add to the role.

He explains: "The writers, I think, have a very cutting-edge sort of sense of humour, as you've probably seen in American Pie.

"But maybe some of the personal experiences I'm going through will also filter through because some of that is very funny - like trying to get on a bus in Los Angeles. I won't do that again because it's far too scary."

Despite his new success, Sean still sounds a little defensive, especially when reminded of his past failings.

He admits: "Maybe I do, but I don't regret it - I learned an awful lot because of all the s*** that happened.

"Looking back, as an actor I pulled off the role of a lifetime - I played a pop star and I lost the plot."

Sean reveals he made good money - around pounds 500,000 a year - but most of it went on the good life, dancers, flights and hotels.

Even the groupies were out of bounds, because he was marketed as a young pop pin-up. He says: "Most of them were 13 or 14 and not the kind of girls you want to start bed-hopping with, not unless you want to share a cell with Gary Glitter."

And since his split with actress Lisa, there have been no high-profile girlfriends.

He may not have got his life back entirely - but it does seem like Sean Maguire is on the right road.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 15, 2001
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