Brooke Shields reflects on relationship with her mother: ‘She was in love with me’

‘I was her main focus. Both of us were cut off from our sexuality,’ model says of her mother

Meredith Clark
New York
Wednesday 12 April 2023 06:35 BST

Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields trailer

Brooke Shields has spoken candidly about her relationship with her late mother, Teri Shields.

On 11 April, the 57-year-old supermodel appeared on The Drew Barrymore Show, where she reflected on her complicated relationship with her mother. During Tuesday’s episode, Shields and Barrymore, who were both child stars, shared details about their unusual upbringings.

The talk show host then asked the Blue Lagoon actor whether her mother, Teri, had dated any of her former partners as Barrymore’s mother, Jaid Barrymore, had. “My mom, like, went and dated my boyfriends. Did you ever have that weird situation with your mom?” the Charlie’s Angels star questioned.

“No, because she was in love with me,” Shields replied. The Endless Love actor went on to clarify that her mother had no interest in dating men because she was too busy managing her daughter’s career. “I was her main focus. Both of us were cut off from our sexuality,” she explained. “I was going to stay a virgin. She was going to be just Terri terrific and being there.”

The Never Been Kissed star then chimed in with her own anecdote about her mother, who she said was “so enamored with me that she wanted to be with the people I was with”. Shields responded: “I get it. It’s so needy and weird.”

In her new Hulu documentary, Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, the actor opened up about the exploitation and sexualisation she experienced as a child star – including how her mother allowed her to pose nude for Playboy when she was just 10 years old, and play a child prostitute in the 1978 film, Pretty Baby.

In an interview with The Sunday Times last March, Shields recalled her daughters’ reactions when they learned their mother had played a child prostitute at such a young age. “It’s child pornography!” her 19-year-old daughter said in the documentary, perThe Times. “Would you have let us [do that] at the age of 11?” she asked, to which Shields responded: “No.”

Brooke Shields and Drew Barrymore reflect on their complicated childhoods

Shields then acknowledged how difficult it was for her to have this conversation with her daughters Rowan, 19, and Grier, 16, and how she couldn’t give them a reason why their grandmother let her do the projects. “I mean, I could say: ‘Oh, it was the time back then,’ or ‘Oh, it was art,’” Shields said. “But I don’t know why she thought it was all right. I don’t know.”

Later on during her appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show, Shields discussed her codependency with Teri after Barrymore had pointed out that the two were often seen by each other’s side in interviews. She explained that her mother appeared next to her when she was a child star out of a desire to protect her. “It was: ‘No one’s gonna get you. I’m gonna be there. I’m there first. You’re mine. I’m not going to give you to somebody,’” said Shields, adding that this was done “under the guise of protection, but it was more ownership and fear, I think”.

Teri Shields died on 31 October 2012 at age 72 due to an illness related to dementia. While Shields’ mother has received criticism over the years for her controversial parenting decisions, the model has said that she doesn’t feel any anger towards her. “Everyone always wanted me to be angry with her, but anger was just too sad for me to take when I looked at how insecure she was,” Shields told The Times.

She added that she still feels the need to protect her mother, even more than a decade after her passing. “It’s so innate when you’re an only child of a single mother,” Shields said. “All you want to do is love your parent and keep them alive forever, and so I wanted to protect her. And by virtue of protecting her, I was justifying everything, and that solidified that bond between us.”

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