Brooke Shields examines her life, fame in doc ‘Pretty Baby’

Streaming HUBJanuary 24, 2023

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — Brooke Shields revealed she was a victim of sexual assault in a new documentary about her life that premiered Friday afternoon at the Sundance Film Festival. She didn’t name the man who she said raped her, but she described the circumstances: It happened shortly after she graduated from college, with someone she knew professionally and they met for the night to discuss work. Got it for dinner. The attack took place when she went to their hotel room to call a cab.

“I didn’t put up much of a fight. I just froze,” she says in the film. “I thought my one ‘no’ should have been enough.” Later, when she told her friend, security expert Gavin de Becker, about the incident, When told about it, she said, “It is rape.” At that time she was not ready to believe.

It’s just one of many revelations in “Pretty Baby,” which takes a closer look at Shields’ life so far, including her rise to fame, her complicated relationship with her mother, Terri Shields, who was an alcoholic, and how the media, to reporters interviewing him from the entertainment industry, reviling his sexualization at a young age while shaming him at the same time. The film will be out on Hulu later this year.

Directed by Lana Wilson, the documentary takes its name from Louis Malle’s 1978 film “Pretty Baby”, a drama about a young sex worker played by an 11-year-old Shields in 1917 New Orleans. In the film, written by Polly Platt, she kisses 29-year-old Keith Carradine and also appears nude.

This was not the first time nor would it be the last time she was sexually harassed by the media. At the age of 15 she shot “Blue Lagoon”, then came “Endless Love”. Both had sex and nudity. And then there were those Calvin Klein denim ads. When she was 16 and a global star, a family friend and photographer tried to sell nude photos of her when she was only 9. His mother filed suit. They went to court. The photographer won.

Shields, who has written two memoirs, has been approached about documentaries before and always said no. But now a 57-year-old girl headed off to college, with the encouragement of her friend Ali Wentworth and a generally good feeling about where she is in life after years of therapy, Shields felt the time was right .

As Wilson put it, “she was ready to go there,” which included speaking about her time at Princeton, her friendship with Michael Jackson, her turbulent relationship with Andre Agassi, and her old “Endless Love” co-author. The cast included Tom Cruise. publicity tour to criticize her use of antidepressants for postpartum depression. He would apologize later.

Wilson Taylor had just walked out of the Swift documentary “Miss Americana” when she received a call from her agent asking if she would like to meet with Shields about a potential project.

Wilson said, “I wasn’t sure at first because I had just come across another project about a celebrity.” “But I was curious at the same time.”

After the meeting, Shields gave him a hard drive. It was a collection of clips and interviews she had done over the decades that her mother had gathered. Over 1,000 hours of material was organized by year. Wilson begins opening random files: Shields in the Reagan White House, there she is dancing with 12 poodles on “Circus of the Stars,” or singing about men in prairie dress making love. Then she went on the “Pretty Baby” press tour.

“She’s sitting there with a series of male talk show hosts who are being praised for their beauty and their bodies and their sexuality, but also being criticized for being an exhibitionist, for going too far, What some people said was child pornography,” Wilson said. “I started thinking about Brooke in that situation at age 12 and how all girls are starting to forge their own identity. How do you create an identity that defines you exclusively from your status as a sexual object? It’s something that many women and girls navigate in private and Brooke was having to do it publicly. .

The Associated Press generally does not name victims of sexual assault until they come out publicly.

This is a story that is neither new nor is it ancient history in Hollywood. Wilson pointed to Shirley Temple, Jodie Foster, Penélope Cruz, Natalie Portman and Kirsten Dunst as just a few of the many examples of actors who were sexualized to various degrees in early roles.

One of Shields’ biggest concerns in starting the project was that his late mother would be re-offended. But Wilson saw something new in looking back, something he thought was worth exploring.

Wilson said, “It was a way of deflecting attention away from these very big questions about the people who are really in charge of the entertainment system, the movies, the commercials.” “You became a scapegoat when bigger questions should have been asked of the people who actually had the power and everyone was watching.”

Wilson spent four very long days interviewing Shields for “Pretty Baby”.

“I’m very lucky that she was game for it,” Wilson said.

“Pretty baby,” she said, not broad by any means. There are things in the memoir that are not in the film. But there is a cultural context that she helps craft in the film that is not there in the memoirs. And, Throughline is Brooke’s journey to gain agency over her mind, her career, her identity.

Choosing to speak out about sexual assault is only one part of it.

Wilson said, “She’s been very honest and candid about how hard she was on herself, about the experience, how she blamed herself in so many ways that I think is heartbreaking to hear, but Also very reliable.” “It is something she has struggled with for a long time and is still struggling with. Getting a window into an experience that isn’t neatly resolved is powerful.

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Follow AP Film Writer Lindsay Bahar on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr.

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