Brooke Shields speaks for the first time about a sexual assault she experienced in her early twenties. The actress and model shares her story in Lana Wilson’s new two-part documentary Beautiful baby: Brooke Shields, which premieres today at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Although Shields does not identify her assailant in the film, she maintains that it was someone she knew and was friendly with. “This is the first time I’m talking about what happened,” Shields says, tearfully telling her story.
At the time the assault took place, the former star was looking to restart her acting career after stepping away from the spotlight to attend Princeton University. But her return to Hollywood proved more difficult than expected. That was when her abuser first reached out. “I had heard there was a movie being made, and I was thinking about it,” Shields recalled of the film. “It was the first time since college that any sort of interest had been expressed [in me]. “
“We had dinner,” she continues. “I thought it was a business meeting. I’ve met this guy before, and he’s always been nice to me.” But the mood of the meeting changed abruptly in the middle of the meal, and she quickly began looking for an exit. “I said, ‘I have to get a taxi,’ and he said, ‘Go back to the hotel—I’ll call you a cab.'”
After arriving at his hotel room, Shields recalls being left alone for a while and feeling unsure of what to do. “I don’t want to go to the phone,” she says, “because it’s not my phone.” “I don’t want to sit down, because I won’t stay.” While looking at the beach view with binoculars, her rapist reappears. “The door opens and the person comes out naked,” she says. “I put back the speculum and he was right.”
It was like wrestling, Shields describes, adding that she was too afraid of being choked or hit to even consider fighting back. “I just froze. I thought: ‘Nobody’ should have been enough. Stay alive and get out.”
During the assault, Shields said she “dissociated” herself from her body, an experience she had earlier in her career on the set of Franco Zeffirelli’s 1981 film endless love. While filming a love scene for that romance, Shields—who was 15 when the movie was shot—remembers the late Italian director grabbing her toe and twisting it to capture the “ecstasy” look he wanted on camera.
“It was more of an anxiety than anything else because it was hurting me,” Shields says. Lovely baby. “I didn’t want to sound like our untalented idiot, so I pulled myself off. It’s like I [instantly] Zoom out: Seeing a situation, but you’re not connected to it. You become instantly. Steam out of yourself about something that’s going on. (Zeffirelli also directed the 1968 film version of Romeo Juliet which included a brief nude scene with the film’s then underage stars, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting. Both actors are now suing Paramount over the scene.
When the attack was over, Shields remembers her attacker still being naked and not even acknowledging what had happened. “Next thing I know, the door is open and the person says, ‘I’ll see you around.’ I just said ‘yeah’, walked out, got in the elevator and got my cab. And I cried all the way to my boyfriend’s apartment.”
According to Shields, she later confronted her abuser in a letter rather than discuss the incident publicly. I said, “That was a huge confidence that was just blown.” how dare you? I’m better than that. I am better than you. This is how I dealt with things. I wanted to erase everything from my mind and body and continue on the path I was on. The system never came to my aid. So I just had to get stronger on my own.”
talk with Hollywood Reporter Before the Sundance premiere Lovely babyShields said she was initially unsure whether to share her story when she sat down to interview Wilson for the film. “I had no idea I was going to say that,” she explained, adding that the substance of the #MeToo times made her realize now was the time to speak up. “I feel as a mother of two little girls that I hope that once I hear about my accident, I can add myself to being an advocate. Because this is something that happens every day, and it shouldn’t happen. I felt like I had reached a place where I could talk about it. It took me a long time.” “.
Premiering on Hulu later this year, Lovely baby Shields’ features reflect many of her high-profile relationships, including with Michael Jackson, whom she says was never a romantic partner despite intense public scrutiny of their years-long friendship. “We met when I was 13 and hit it off,” she recalls in the movie. “It was very childish.”
“We were just friends really,” Shields continues. “But he always kind of wanted to be seen with me. If he picked a restaurant, I’d say, ‘How did you do [the paparazzi] know we were here? Then at some point, he said we should adopt a child and raise a child together.”
The actress also suggests that Jackson lied when he told Oprah Winfrey that he and Shields were dating during a popular TV interview in 1993. “She called him,” she said. [afterwards] And she said, “What are you doing?” “You remember.” I am currently with my boyfriend in NYC! What are you doing?’ I finally lost touch with him.”
Beautiful baby: Brooke Shields premieres on Hulu later this year.