Brooke Shields: Actress recounts rape and child exploitation in new Pretty Baby documentary
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Brooke Shields has spoken out about the child exploitation she suffered at the hands of Hollywood in an explosive new documentary about her career. The actress said the cycle of abuse began when she was cast as a child prostitute in the highly controversial 1978 film Pretty Baby.
She was just 11-years-old at the time of filming but had to appear naked on screen and kiss a then 29-year-old Keith Carradine. The film also starred Susan Surandon and centres around a 12-year-old girl who has her virginity auctioned off to the highest bidder in a New Orleans brothel.
In the documentary, which is also called Pretty Baby and premiered in January in the the US, Brooke said the film set off a “pattern” of exploitation that culminated in her being raped in her early 20s by an industry insider. “I learned to compartmentalise at an early age - it was a survival technique,” she said.
At 14, she became the youngest model to ever appear on the front cover of Vogue. She was cast in teen romance Blue Lagoon the same year, which saw her character frequently strip off and have sex with on-screen partner, played by Christopher Atkins who was then 18.
A body double stood in for the sex scenes but Brooke said she was “encouraged” to pursue a real relationship with Atkins by film-makers. The following year she was cast in Franco Zefferelli’s Endless Love, which told the story of two high school sweethearts forbidden to see each other and featured even more sex and nudity.
Brooke previously gave an interview in which she claimed she was “kind of untouchable” and “not easy prey”, and that she “never had a #MeToo movement” of her own. But the actress tells a different story in the documentary, during which she says of her rise to fame at such a young age: “Sometimes, I’m amazed I survived any of it”.
The new documentary has seen Brooke revealed she was raped in a hotel room by an unnamed man in the industry for the first time. She said she had met him to discuss potential film projects following her graduation from Princeton University in 1987.
“He was right on me, it was just like wrestling,” Brooke said in the documentary. “God knows I knew how to be disassociated from my body - I’d practiced that.”
Brooke refused to accept what happened to her for years and even had doubts it was rape, despite being told it was by her security specialist.
“He said, ‘That’s rape’. And I said, “I’m not willing to believe that,”’ the star revealed.