updated 03/10/2011 AT 1:15 PM ET
•originally published 03/10/2011 AT 10:00 AM ET
Twenty years ago, Kelly Preston almost became Mrs. Charlie Sheen. And while their engagement ended with a bizarre, still mysterious incident in which Sheen accidentally shot her in the arm, Preston still has a place in her heart for the man she almost called her husband.
“My heart just goes out to him, and all of his family,” the actress, 48, tells PEOPLE. “He’s such a good person underneath all of it, he really is.”
While most of the world awaits the latest Sheen tweet, rambling interview or Tiger Blood cocktail recipe, Preston recalls the days long before the troubled actor became a punch line.