updated 06/20/2011 AT 8:50 AM ET
•originally published 06/23/2011 AT 2:05 PM ET
“Sometimes people have to go through things,” Valderrama, 31, tells PEOPLE of his onetime girlfriend. “We all understand that, and we all deserve a second chance.”
To many, Lohan’s story is the latest cautionary Hollywood tale of excess and wasted talent. To Valderrama, it is a story of redemption that has yet to be told, one that will be written with his former love’s desire to come back from the brink.
“I’m not worried about her at all,” the actor said at the Cars 2 premiere in Hollywood. “I think she’s going to get through this because she is ridiculously talented.”
He adds that he maintains a connection with the troubled starlet, and happily so. “You know, we continue to be great friends,” Valderrama says, before adding with a slight, wistful smile: “When you love once, you always will, and you have to care.”