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“Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields,” a documentary about Brooke Shields and the sexual objectification she endured as a child actor, arrives on Hulu today.
In the two-part documentary, which premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, the actor and model opens up for the first time about her earliest experiences in Hollywood. The film tracks her rise as a child advertising model to her sexualization in movies, starting at age 12, in “Pretty Baby” (1978), and then at 15, in “The Blue Lagoon” (1980).
“I spent my life owing people things and doing whatever they wanted,” Shields says in a new teaser dropped Wednesday morning. “I finally asked myself, ‘What will I be if I don’t allow that anymore?’”
Shields’ experience with older men on set as a child is a common theme in her recollections. In “Blue Lagoon,” a perverse film about two teenagers falling in love, 15 year-old Shields was forced to be sexual on camera despite never having been sexual with a man before. The next movie she shot “Endless Love” was directed by the late Italian filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli, who began twisting Shields’ toe as punishment for not portraying sex in the correct way.
“Zeffirelli kept grabbing my toe and, like, twisting it so that I had a look of… I guess ecstasy?” Shields recalls in the documentary. “But it was more angst than anything, because he was hurting me.”
In addition to inappropriate experiences with older men, the documentary also focuses on Shield’s volatile relationship with her own mother Teri Shields, who doubled as a doting but alcoholic manager. According to Shields, Teri, who died in 2012, was a self-possessed stage mom who was dead set on making her daughter a star.
One scene in the documentary features a clip of Barbara Walters asking Teri, “Can’t someone say to you that you are exploiting the sensuality of a child?” Teri answers by saying, “If that’s all I was doing, probably, yes. But that’s not all I’m doing with Brooke, or what Brooke is doing.”
Directed by Lana Wilson, known for her Taylor Swift doc “Miss Americana,” the series is also the first project from George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth’s new production company BedBy8. Matador Content’s Jay Peterson and Todd Lubin also serve as executive producers, and Christine O’Malley and Jack Turner serve as producers.
Shields is repped by UTA, Untitled and Ziffren Brittenham
Stream “Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields” on Hulu, starting Apr. 3.