Brooke Shields on child stardom, sexualisation and nailing comedy: ‘It’s not in my nature to be a victim’

From Hollywood movies to naked photoshoots, the actor spent much of her youth in projects that now look more than a little creepy. She talks about her alcoholic mother, her new romcom and the happiness she has found in her 50s

How, I wonder, is Brooke Shields so sorted? She has survived a childhood with an alcoholic mother, some disturbing early films, a nation’s creepy obsession with her, a divorce and severe postnatal depression. She even came through the 90s’ overplucked-eyebrow trend unharmed. And here she is, radiant through my laptop screen, in her beautiful New York townhouse kitchen, with a dog at her feet, husband milling about in the background, one teenage daughter upstairs, another successfully packed off to college, and her sense of humour very much intact. She has, she says with a smile, when I point out how together she seems, “been going to therapy for 35 years”.

Shields is in a Christmas romcom, for Netflix, which is the gift you didn’t know you wanted. “There’s dogs, castles, knitters, pubs!” she says, laughing. I don’t need convincing. The plot of A Castle for Christmas may be as predictable as gift-wrapped socks, but sometimes you just need preposterous cosy escapism. Shields is great as bestselling American author Sophie Brown, who, suffering with writer’s block, escapes to Scotland to trace her roots and ends up acquiring a stately home. And, despite the film’s many conventions, a middle-aged romcom still feels quite radical. There are lots of women in their 50s like Sophie, she says, “who are taking their life in their own hands. They’ve raised kids, they’re moving on to this next phase and there’s a lot of power that comes with that.”

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