Brooke Shields’s First Kiss Was With a 29-Year-Old Man on Camera When She Was Just 11

Shields discusses the distressing incident — with Keith Carradine in 1978’s “Pretty Baby” — in a new Hulu documentary

Brooke Shields attends The National Board of Review 2023 Awards Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on January 8, 2023.
Brooke Shields attends The National Board of Review 2023 Awards Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on January 8, 2023.
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Hulu’s two-part documentary Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields — which examines the way the former child star was sexualized and objectified at an extremely young age and the impact that had on her adult life — debuts today (April 3), and it’s full of horrifying details that will hopefully inspire viewers to reconsider the ways they view young women. One of the most harrowing stories in the doc has to do with Shields’s first kiss, which took place on-camera when she was just 11.

The kiss in question saw the young Shields — who, to reiterate, was a child at the time — locking lips with her 29-year-old costar Keith Carradine in 1978’s Pretty Baby. She played a child sex worker in the controversial film, and in the doc she recalls being uncomfortable with the scene, so much so that director Louis Malle scolded her for scrunching up her face while kissing Carradine. Eventually, the actor took her aside and tried to comfort her.

“‘Hey,’ he said to me. ‘You know what? This doesn’t count. This is all make-believe,’” Shields said.

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Lana Wilson, the documentary’s director, recently spoke to Rolling Stone about the incident and her decision to highlight it in Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields. “This is a moment I wanted to feature and unpack because, even if child Brooke was fully cognizant of the role she was playing, and even if she realized that acting was pretend, I can’t help but think: ‘This is an actual 11-year-old girl having to kiss an actual 29-year-old man,’” she said.

“That inescapably is real,” Wilson added. “And the impact of that is real, too. Eleven-year-old Brooke expressed discomfort during the filming of this moment, but that discomfort was not taken seriously by the director.”

It’s something that would never fly in 2023, thanks to child labor laws and on-set intimacy coordinators whose job it is to make sure actors are safe and unexploited. But it’s a grim reminder of just how far we’ve come — and how, less than 50 years ago, seemingly no one had a problem with a sixth-grader kissing a man who was pushing 30 in the name of art.

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