Surprised by her recent arrest, friends tell PEOPLE the actress is still strong

By Liz McNeil
Updated June 03, 2008 03:00 PM

Tatum O’Neal’s friends, who were surprised by the news of her arrest for allegedly buying cocaine near her Manhattan apartment, also say that the actress will pull through this rough patch.

“I would call it a cry for help,” says one friend of the arrest Sunday night. Another friend said it had come as a surprise because she was making plans with her daughter for the summer. “There was no indication [that she was in trouble].”

Peter Bogdonavich, who directed her in her Oscar-winning movie Paper Moon, told PEOPLE he last spoke to her six months ago. “She said she was clean and happy to be doing the show (Rescue Me),” he noted. “She’s a strong woman and has been through a lot. She’s a good girl. She’s had some tough breaks.”

Another friend, who has known O’Neal, 44, since she was a child, agreed. “She’s had a tough life. She puts on a tough exterior. But she is fragile. She is very sensitive,” the friend said. “I always wondered how she survived the environment in which she was brought up. She’s had a tough life.”

As for the future, Bogdonavich said, “She’s very strong. I’m sure she can [recover]. She has a strong spirituality. She should pull out of it.”

Reporting by K.C. BAKER

For more about Tatum’s arrest and her friends’ reactions, read this week’s PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Like this story? Click on the Yahoo Buzz! button below to Buzz it up!