Brooke Shields berates ‘ridiculous’ Tom Cruise battle with postpartum depression as Sundance showers her new doctor with a standing ovation

Brooke Shields berates ‘ridiculous’ Tom Cruise battle with postpartum depression as Sundance showers her new doctor with a standing ovation

“Pretty Baby,” a two-part documentary about the intense ups and downs of American icon Brooke Shields, brought down houses with its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday.

The documentary explores Shields’ horrifying sexualization from the age of 9, the ensuing world-class modeling and acting career, and the urgent conversations she sparks about what society expects of women.

Directed by Lana Wilson (Taylor Swift’s “Miss Americana”), “Pretty Baby” confronts milestones in Shield’s life that, in a post-#MeToo world, shocked audiences at the Eccles Theater in Park City. Pre-adolescent nude photo shoots, male talk show hosts questioning whether 12-year-old Shields enjoys being a sex symbol, the horrors of an alcoholic mother and manager, and Shield’s notable public fights with the likes of Tom Cruise are all on the table.

“I’ve always made it an important part of my journey to be as honest as possible. Not just to the outside world, but to myself,” Shields said during a Q&A after the document’s premiere, which received a standing ovation. “I didn’t want to be closed. The industry I work in is preparing you to be shut down. I didn’t want to lose there.”

An interesting mix of minds from their lives populate the document to provide insight. Childhood friend Laura Linney, Lionel Richie, Ali Wentworth and security czar Gavin de Becker all make an appearance. Sitting cross-legged and barefoot on a stool, Drew Barrymore acknowledged the confusion and difficulties that come with child fame. A particularly rad moment occurred during a section of Blue Lagoon, the seminal film about teenage boys making love on a desert island. Director Randal Kleiser, the doctor claims, was actively building a narrative in the press that Shields was sexually maturing with her character in real time.

“They wanted to make it a reality show,” Shields said. “They wanted to sell my sexual awakening.”

Perhaps, the work says, that’s why Shields broke off her torrid career streak to attend Princeton University.

“Brooke insisted on being given agency over her mind, her career and her future. I thought it was remarkable and very timely in many ways,” Wilson told the audience.

Throughout her adulthood, Shields describes her attraction to a character she claimed was as “controlling” as her own mother – tennis star Andre Agassi, who she says was wracked with jealousy when she appeared on sitcoms like ” Friends” and “Suddenly Susan.” The battles weren’t all private.

After Shields married her now-husband, Chris Henchy, she struggled to conceive. After many attempts, she gave birth to daughter Rowan and immediately slipped into an unknown and extreme depression. In 2005 she authored the book Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression.

At the same time that Shields is promoting the book, Tom Cruise is making the rounds for his Steven Spielberg-directed action film War of the Worlds. Cruise, the most famous member of the Church of Scientology, which opposes therapy and prescription drugs, publicly took action against Shields for promoting antidepressants. He went so far as to call them “dangerous.”

In the documentary, Shields called the incident “ridiculous.”

During a scene in the documentary, the camera zooms in on the headline, “What Tom Cruise Doesn’t Know About Estrogen,” from a New York Times op-ed she wrote in response to Cruise. The Eccles applauded enthusiastically, and did so again after actor Judd Nelson quoted his then-boyfriend Shields, “Tom Cruise should stick with fighting aliens.”