LORD OF THE RINGS star Sean Astin has spoken out for the first time about his years of anguish at the hands of his manic depressive mother Patty Duke.

Sean and his younger brother MACKENZIE were unaware of the cause of their mother's behaviour, and were often left sheltering under the arms of their actor dad John Astin for comfort.

Patty recalls, "When (my) behaviour would start to get a little bizarre, say in a manic phase, it was gonna get loud and it was gonna get mean and I would go to the part of them that I could make suffer the most."

Mackenzie continues, "There was plenty of stuff that was mortifying, horrifying. And to be exposed to something that is not in control is as scary as being in battle."

But Sean admits it was he who was most often the target of his mother's rages, telling US TV show 20/20, "I was working on this model airplane... I remember cleaning my room up until everything was perfect, and I could hear the sound of mom sort of going through the hallways like the Beast in BEAUTY + THE BEAST.

"She came in with this glass of water, looked around the room,instantly surveyed that I'd cleaned up the room and she was like, 'Oh great, you're perfect aren't you?' and throws the water in my face. And then she destroyed the model."

Patty was finally diagnosed with manic depression at age 35 - the same year she and John Astin separated.

And despite what he went through, Sean insists he has forgiven his mother for everything.

He explains, "I almost felt this sense of calm and peace at those moments. It was almost like she was testing me to see if I would break. This woman is a powerful, strong woman who wanted us to grow up and be independent and confident and strong."

04/08/2004 09:28