Brooke Shields is the talk of Sundance thanks to Lana Wilson’s explosive documentary “Pretty Baby,” which made various headlines after its world premiere due to new revelations from Shields regarding abuse, as well as her candor discussing her “ridiculous” battle against Tom Cruise over postpartum depression. Shields was just as honest while visiting the Variety Studio presented by Audible at Sundance. The actor and supermodel opened up on her complex relationship with her mother and former manager, Teri, whom she eventually fired.
Shields’ mother was her North Star from birth, but she was also saddled with a terrible drinking problem, often openly written about during the shock tabloid culture of the early ‘80s. The Shields women had a codependency that forced young Brooke into an early maturity. In the documentary, Shields spoke about feeling responsible for keeping her mother alive. Actress Laura Linney, Shields’ childhood friend, recalled that she and Brooke would hide in dark rooms when Teri would come home drunk and would wait for her to pass out before emerging.
When Shields married tennis star Andre Aggasi in 1999, a man she called as “controlling” as her own mother, she assembled a team to pack and empty the office she shared with Teri over a weekend (including archives of her iconic clothes and magazine covers). Teri reported to work on Monday to find the space empty and realized she was effectively fired. Teri died in 2012.
“You don’t ever recover from losing a parent,” Shields said at the Variety Studio presented by Audible at Sundance. “It’s a primal thing. You learn to put it in a different place in your heart. I also said goodbye to her every time she drank. She wasn’t present. I knew who she was capable of being because it was in there… I feel sad that she’s missing out on this. She’s probably looking down saying, ‘I didn’t get enough screen time.”
“Pretty Baby” explores the appalling sexualization of Shields beginning at age 9, the top-tier modeling and acting career that followed and the urgent conversations she inspires around what society expects of women. The film earned a standing ovation after its Sundance world premiere. Variety film critic Owen Gleiberman called the documentary “fascinating” in his review, adding, “Lana Wilson’s accomplished film traces how Brooke Shields’ career was at the forefront of our culture’s sexualization of girls, and shows what it was like for her to live a life inside that image.”