DATE May 11, 2005 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
PROGRAM Fresh Air
Interview: Brooke Shields discusses her memoir, "Down Came the
Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression"
TERRY GROSS, host:
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.
My guest, actress Brooke Shields, became famous at the age of 12 starring as a
child prostitute in Louis Malle's film "Pretty Baby." She won a Golden Globe
for her starring role in the sitcom "Suddenly Susan," and she starred in
Broadway revivals of "Cabaret" and "Wonderful Town." She also has just
written a very personal memoir.
After getting married in 2001, she desperately wanted to become a mother.
Cervical surgery had prevented her from conceiving, so she tried artificial
insemination, then in vitro fertilization. Finally, she got pregnant, but it
ended in a miscarriage. She tried again, had a healthy pregnancy, but nearly
died in labor. After working so hard to have this baby, she was shocked to
find she felt no connection to her newborn daughter, and fell into a
depression that made it impossible to take care of her. Brooke Shields' new
memoir is called "Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum
Depression." I asked her first about the difficulty she experienced with in
Ms. BROOKE SHIELDS (Author, "Down Came the Rain"): I think the feeling of
failure was the most difficult because here is what is supposed to be the most
natural of all aspects of a woman's life, and it's supposed--we assume it's
going to be easy and we assume it's going to come out of love and it's going
to happen and everything will come into focus. And I think that--it took over
two years for me to actually conceive and keep a child, and that just takes a
toll on you with regards to anticipation and letdown. And it just--it was a
much longer journey than I ever thought that I would have had to have gone
GROSS: Well, you finally conceived. Your pregnancy was uneventful, but the
labor itself was a nightmare. Why did you need a C-section?
Ms. SHIELDS: I had labored for so long that it became a compromised situation
for both me and the baby. And talk about irony. I mean, what was so
unbelievable about it was that, in fact, having a C-section probably saved my
daughter's life because the--she had the cord wrapped around her three times,
actually. And so I think it was just we had--and in a sense, too, the doctors
had so wanted me to be able to deliver naturally the way I had always dreamt
it and the way I had expressed to him and the belief that it was possible.
And then after 24 hours of that, it became more of an emergency situation.
GROSS: And then you had a herniated uterus.
Ms. SHIELDS: Yeah, I had it all. It was--I lost a tremendous amount of
blood, and there was talk of a hysterectomy. And, you know, it was all just
on the spot and it was very--much more dramatic than I had ever dreamt of,
where the child's born and placed on your chest and still connected by the
umbilical cord and--I mean, you know, that was a dream that I had really
played into for years, and it could not have been farther from what I
GROSS: What did you experience when you first saw your baby?
Ms. SHIELDS: I did not experience the feeling of connection that I thought I
would, but I quickly thought it was just because I was in a much more
compromised physical state. I was--I remarked at how much she looked like her
father, which probably didn't help with my identifying with her because she
didn't look anything like me, but she seemed like a complete stranger to me
and she seemed very aware. And the minute I saw her, I thought, `Oh, I'm not
sure I can handle this.'
GROSS: And as this was happening, you also had your herniated uterus sitting
outside your body on your stomach.
Ms. SHIELDS: You're giving away all the good parts of the book.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. SHIELDS: Yeah. I mean, you don't believe those things can happen, but
medically it was unbelievable. They take everything out and take the kid out
and put everything, supposedly, back in. There was a question as to whether
they were going to put all my plumbing back where it was supposed to go, and
thank God my doctor was conservative.
GROSS: You know, you describe all of the really frightening emotions that you
had after your daughter was born. You write: `I felt no connection to my
daughter and I wanted to die because of it. She grew inside my body, and I
didn't even feel related to her.' That must have been such a horrifying
feeling, or lack of feeling, to have. It must have felt, like, all wrong and,
therefore, there was something wrong or even evil about you.
Ms. SHIELDS: I think it's the--what first happens is there's sort of
disbelief, and then you keep waiting for it to get better. And, you know, I
really--I was amazed that I didn't instantly feel bonded with her, and I think
that was a--and that was something that I always thought would happen
immediately. And when it didn't happen immediately, I began to think it was
my fault and it was my problem and how self-serving was it to all of a sudden
make it about me or--you know, every possible sort of thing that I could
possibly believe as to be negative about myself, I started to believe it. And
then the fear of not ever being connected to her or not ever feeling like I'm
going to get out of this and feeling like I was the only person in the world
to not be bonded with their baby. And it just felt horrific to me. Just
anything with regards to parents and their children, if there's anything less
than or short of communication and love and bonding, I was--I just never
thought it would happen to me.
GROSS: We should mention here that through this period when--particularly the
early part of the period, when you're going through this terrible depression,
your body was still not in good shape. I mean, you had, for various reasons,
like, swollen incredibly. Your hands were, you said, like baseball mitts. I
mean, you were not feeling well physically or emotionally. What did the
doctors tell you?
Ms. SHIELDS: Originally, the doctors--you know, I--physically, I tried to
address that, and it was a while before I addressed the emotions. But
physically, I said, `Give me something to make the swelling go down. I can't
pick up anything. I can't do anything, and I'm in pain.' And they said,
`There's just been so much fluids pumped into your body, and it will go down.
It will go away.' So that was sort of the first physical reaction. And I
could almost deal with the physicality of it.
The emotional part was the most confusing, because what I kept being met with
was, `It's just the baby blues. You'll get over it. It's very common. Every
new mother goes through this. It's a big shock to your life and, trust me,
it'll pass.' And so I trusted and it didn't pass. And once it exceeded sort
of the two-week mark of--this doesn't even seem like a long time, but it was a
very, very long time--it was still not getting better. I was still not
feeling; the cloud was not lifting. And the doctor then said to me, `Do you
think you could possibly be experiencing postpartum depression?' at which
point I said, `No, postpartum depression is for the people that you read in
the news that harm their children. I have no desire to harm my children. I
just don't want her living with me.' You know, I said, `That's not me. I'm
not a depressed person. I just truly have made a mistake,' and I was very
rational in my thought process.
And he then said to me, you know, `Would you just consider trying some
medicine?' of course, at which point I said no, because I felt that taking
medicine for something like this was a sign of weakness and I had never needed
it before to feel better. I felt that I could just power through this. And
after much urging from doctors and family members and my husband, I sort of
conceded, if you will, and decided that I would, in fact, try some medicine.
And it was really only after that, which was almost--when she was about a
month old, that I even decided to try taking medication. And the improvement
was nothing sort of miraculous.
GROSS: Did you feel it was miraculous, or did just people who knew you think
it was miraculous?
Ms. SHIELDS: I think I felt it was a miracle because I didn't have the sort
of the blanketed weight on my shoulders anymore. I then, however, made a very
stupid decision. I decided since I was, in fact, feeling better, it could not
have been from the medicine; it was just that time, in fact, was healing me
and I didn't need to take it anymore. So all of my education thrown out the
window and all of my knowledge of myself thrown out the window, I decided to
abruptly stop taking medicine without even consulting the doctor, because I
thought I knew myself better and I was not going to become a member of this
sort of depressed community who takes medicine. And I had such a stigma
around it, and unfortunately I plummeted so much farther so quickly that it
wasn't until after that sort of major, major episode that I realized that
medicine was there for a reason and that there was nothing, in fact, wrong
with better living through medicine.
GROSS: So what were some of the turning points for you in emotionally
becoming a mother?
Ms. SHIELDS: Well, I don't think I had any emotional turning point whatsoever
with regards to my relationship with my daughter until I got help, because up
until then, she existed, I existed, we didn't coexist in my heart and soul
even though I was breast-feeding her, even though she was a dream come true.
I was so distanced from her that I had no--my emotions were not available even
to motherhood. So it wasn't until I started getting help and coming out of
this just black, black hole--then it was at that point that I then started to
regard myself as, in fact, this child's only mother.
And then come the smaller but unbelievably important emotional turning points,
when your child is only comforted in your arms, when you can recognize the
differences in her cries and what that means, when you watch her sleeping and
feel as connected to her as when she's awake. I mean, I think that those
little, teeny emotional turning points then started to flood in, and the whole
thing became this unbelievable connection that I always thought I would have.
But it had taken a long time to get there.
GROSS: My guest is Brooke Shields. Her new memoir is called "Down Came the
Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression." We'll talk more after a
This is FRESH AIR.
(Soundbite of music)
GROSS: Brooke Shields is my guest, and she's written a new memoir called
"Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression."
As you point out in your book, your life has always been public. And as you
were in the hospital, as you were dealing afterwards with the postpartum
depression, you knew that there would be photographers around who wanted to
take pictures of you and your baby and all of this. And, of course, it's
probably the last thing that you would have wanted then because you were
feeling so awful, so unexpectedly horrible about how things were going. Plus,
you were all swollen and didn't even look like yourself. So I'm sure the last
thing you wanted was to be in magazines and newspapers.
Ms. SHIELDS: Absolutely, especially from the neck down.
GROSS: So how did you deal with that aspect of your early motherhood?
Ms. SHIELDS: I don't know anybody that looks great after they've had a kid.
So I was--you know, I thought, `OK. Well, at least I'm normal there.' What
wasn't conventional, so to speak, was the fact that there were countless
nurses that came in. And I don't know whether they just wanted to get a peek
or what, but there was a sort of constant flow of just disruption. And I knew
that I was going to leave the hospital, and I knew that I was not in a good
place. I had no idea the extent to which I was not in a good place. But I
knew that if I saw pictures of myself looking as badly as I felt--looking as
bad as I felt, I would have been even more embarrassed and more devastated.
So I got friends of mine to help me with hair and makeup, and I dressed up and
I wrapped the baby in something pretty. And I sort of--I tried to present a
picture that would at least not leave anything open to suspicion that it was
anything less than graceful or perfect as we all think it's supposed to be.
And so I just didn't want people on my back, honestly, sort of hounding me
about there being anything wrong.
GROSS: Why is it different to be photographed by the paparazzi when you're
not feeling well and when you're feeling, you know, depressed about
motherhood--why is that different from writing a memoir in which you go into
great detail about the depression?
Ms. SHIELDS: Because it comes from me directly and because it's in my words
and it is by my hand that it gets documented. So there's no room for any type
of opinion, really, except for mine. And I think that's a rare opportunity
that you get, especially if you're a well-known person or if you're in the
entertainment industry or you're in the public eye in any way. And I think
that whether--just to escape conjecture, I mean, I think there is a feeling
that I had that I wanted this out of anything that I've ever experienced to be
in my words.
And in a way, that was so that I would take responsibility for it, but it was
also so that--so often things get leaked. I mean, my in vitro story got
leaked by a nurse. Would I have come so openly about it? I'm not sure I
would have chosen to speak about it just because it was a long, hard journey.
But once that happened, there was this sort of obsession with my pregnancy and
my baby and my having a child, and I really just--I thought, `OK. Well, if
that's already out, something is probably going to be said somewhere along the
line and it won't be true. I might as well be the one to have it be my story
and know that it's my story.'
GROSS: If I can ask you a frank question about something. You know, you have
been in the public eye since you were a child. And, you know, as we all know,
you're very beautiful, and I'm sure you have been the object of fantasy to
many younger and older men. And, you know--so there's been this, like,
mystique around you all your life. And in your book, you're writing in such
kind of frank terms about your body. You know, you're writing about a
miscarriage; you're writing about artificial insemination, in vitro
fertilization; you're writing about a Caesarean section. I mean, you're
writing in pretty explicit medical terms about the realities of what's going
through your body, which is so different from the kind of fantasy--the sexual
fantasy image. Do you know what I mean?
Ms. SHIELDS: That's one way to get me off the pedestal, huh?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. SHIELDS: I've been up there a long time. I've got a--it's too--I'm
lonely up here.
GROSS: Well, I don't know if it's the kind of thing you've thought about or
Ms. SHIELDS: You know what? I have to say that--and unfortunately, with
this, men become the least cared about in these things, which is unfortunate,
too--which is also something I touch upon--is that, you know, there is
this--it's not happening to the men, so I think that they--it's important for
them to try to understand as much. And also, we need to be compassionate to
them about how difficult this is for them to sort of see their wives, their
partners, in these compromising situations. And nobody wants to talk about
this stuff because it's not pretty.
The interesting thing is, you know, I sort of rely on the work to be the
fantasy, you know, the work that I do where I can opt for different people and
where everything's perfect in your movie world and where everything works out
right in theater, with regards to recent roles that I've played. And I
honestly have never felt comfortable as the object of that type of affection,
so to speak, because it just seems so foreign to who I really am and it's
something that's very external and it's very much out there. So, you know, if
the risk is being known more honestly for who I am and the reality of it, then
I'd rather live there than I would in fantasy.
GROSS: Your parents separated, I think, by the time you were born, or shortly
after you were born.
Ms. SHIELDS: Five months. Five months after I was born.
GROSS: OK. And, you know, your mother was famous in the press for being very
possessive and controlling, for running your career when you were a child and
when you were a young adult and making a lot of your decisions for you. You
describe her as obsessive in how she took care of you; you were her life.
What's it been like for you to figure out what kind of mother you want to be?
I mean, your model is her; I think you don't want to be as obsessive a parent
as she was. And so I think it's always hard for parents to figure out who
they want to be as opposed to how they were parented.
Ms. SHIELDS: I think it's really--because those are the first models that you
know. And then those sort of--those are the stories you go back to in your
head as to what my parents did and how I'm going to be the same or different.
And I think it's an ongoing--it seems that it's ongoing in my discovery of it.
What I can say, which I found the most interesting, is that I have much more
empathy for my mother, having had a child. I think where a lot of her
obsession came in--and I use that word loosely in a sense--is that I was, and
we were, in an industry that is filled with--sort of there's a piranha
mentality. There's--sort of you eat your young and you sort of--you get
devoured so easily. And you hear about the stories of these young performers
that end up truly lost and truly--they've succumbed to so many of the
And one of the reasons why I do, in a sense, appreciate her obsessiveness with
regards to being that which stands between me and everybody else is that I was
relatively unscathed by what is so negative about the business that I was in.
Where I feel it hindered me was in this sort of unbelievable naivete that
seemed to maintain itself in my life. Because I never really fought too many
of the battles on my own, I really wasn't sure what my own voice was and where
my strengths were. And I think that that--I understand how that happened, and
I also understand that she did the best she could.
The irony is I look at my daughter and--you know, she's older than I was when
I started working--the little slacker--and I would kill for her. I mean, I
understand this--I mean, she is so much a part of my fabric at this point that
I would get in between her and any type of harm at any moment. And I think
that that's what--you know, but because my mother was sort of the infamous one
and the famous one, we immediately go to the negative. And I believe I could
have been much more harmed by being so young and being in this industry had I
not been so sort of primally protected.
GROSS: Brooke Shields' new memoir is called "Down Came the Rain: My Journey
Through Postpartum Depression." She'll be back in the second half of the
I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.
(Soundbite of music)
GROSS: Coming up, how playing a child prostitute in the Louis Malle film
"Pretty Baby" changed Brooke Shields' life. Also, rock critic Ken Tucker
reviews "The Greatest White Liar," the debut album by Nic Armstrong and his
band, The Thieves.
(Soundbite of music)
GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross, back with Brooke Shields. She's
been modeling and acting just about her whole life. She made the movies "King
of the Gypsies" and "Pretty Baby" before becoming a teen-ager. She won a
Golden Globe for her starring role in the sitcom "Suddenly Susan," which
debuted in 1996. More recently, she's starred in Broadway revivals of
"Cabaret" and "Wonderful Town." Now she's written a memoir called "Down Came
the Rain" about her experiences a couple of years ago with severe postpartum
Your daughter is older now than you were. When you started to work at the age
of one, you were in an Ivory Snow ad. Would you describe the ad?
Ms. SHIELDS: I was evidently called in late, and my mother was a friend of
the photographer, and it was Scavullo, which is kind of an amazing thing. But
he called her and said, `Could you bring the baby down here because all these
kids are screaming and crying, and none of them know how to kiss?' And
evidently at 11 months old, I evidently knew how to kiss (laughs). And I got
down there, of course, after I had had my nap and after I had eaten, so I was
in a happy mood. And, basically, they just handed me this bar of soap, and
I--they just kept saying, you know, `Give it to your mom,' and I had a sort
of--this new fake mom. And the picture's just basically of a profile of mine
and this woman that is suppose to be my mother. And that's all for Ivory
GROSS: Did you always--since you were working when you were so young, did you
always have a sense of a difference between real life and how drab or boring
or chaotic real life could be and photos and movies, which could create a more
intensified or perfected or focused sense of things?
Ms. SHIELDS: I think I always knew the difference because I never left school
to get the high school equivalency, diploma or anything like that. I always
stayed in school. And the movies that I made and the work that I did was
primarily during my summer break. So the sort of vast--the contrast between
the two was always very obvious to me. But I think that ever since I was a
very little girl, I had a very strong imagination and could so easily just--my
mind could just go, and I could leave completely and go into movies that I saw
and, later, in roles that I played. And I think that there's always been
this--I've always been able to sort of compartmentalize. But because I
started at such a young age, it--I sort of maintained this belief in--that
things were like in the movies.
And I think that that's something that also contributed to the shock of my
postpartum depression--was because I even played into the image of motherhood
and maternity. And, you know, I even remember the movies that I've seen or
the scenes from movies and pictures that I've seen. And so I think that
my--although my imagination was very pretty strong and I was able to sort of
lose myself in these images, they, in fact, created such a stark contrast much
later in life.
GROSS: Oh, my gosh, that Ivory Snow ad that you were talking about is a
Ms. SHIELDS: I know.
GROSS: One of the first things you did in this world...
Ms. SHIELDS: It was...
GROSS: ...was participate in this perfected image of motherhood with, you
know, mother and baby.
Ms. SHIELDS: I mean, I--you know, if you see me giving her a bath, it is just
a mess. You know, there's no handing of the soap over to your mother.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. SHIELDS: That's no--you know, there's no gazing at your mother as a
one-year-old saying, you know, `Thank you, Mother, for washing me.'
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. SHIELDS: And so I started pretty young. It's amazing I'm not more messed
GROSS: At what point did you realize that you were beautiful, and what
difference did that make? How did that matter to you in life?
Ms. SHIELDS: I still say it's one thing to be told you're beautiful, and
it's--the claim is made that you're beautiful, but beauty is such an
arbitrary--it's just an arbitrary concept. I mean, I, at such a young age,
would put on outfits and be photographed in them or put on makeup or put on
something, be photographed in it, take it off and go back to my life. And
even if that was on a daily basis, it was like a sport to me. So I never
really equated who I really was with what was said of the photos or the roles
or the pictures.
And so I always sort of--maybe it was just--it was almost avaricious, I mean,
the way that I refused in my mind to be what anybody said I was because it
just seemed too strange to be labeled `the face of the '80s' or whatever it
was. It just didn't make any sense to me, and it still is sort of very
arbitrary in how all these things are decided.
I felt that certain pictures looked pretty, but there's a big difference
between that and really feeling beautiful yourself. And being so used to
other people looking at me, looking at myself in a mirror or spending any time
regarding my own image just seemed like a waste of time. And it seemed like
it was always something I avoided. I mean, I--interestingly, even in dance
class, I had a hard time spotting myself in the mirror, in which--you know,
which you need to do if you want to turn, and never became very good at it
because it was such a sort of frightening thing for me to just look at myself
'cause it seemed to have been done too much.
I think it wasn't until I actually became probably pregnant that I think I
really started to because it started to become less about me and more about a
woman; that I then started to really say that I thought that there was beauty
in what I saw. And I looked at myself so much more after I got pregnant than
I ever really did prior.
GROSS: Well, you were changing so much. It must have been, you know
Ms. SHIELDS: It was quite fascinating.
GROSS: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Ms. SHIELDS: And so I was able to sort of--in a weird way, you separate
yourself from what you know to be yourself and when you--to look at this
ever-changing person and then to see, you know, just--there was something in
my eyes that was different, and I think that that's what--and then to be
looked at from--by my husband with this certain look of love and this look of
appreciation and this look of celebration, that was something I could tap into
and feel beautiful with.
GROSS: My guest is Brooke Shields. Her new memoir is called "Down Came the
Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression." We'll talk more after a
break. This is FRESH AIR.
(Soundbite of music)
GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Brooke Shields. And she's
written a new memoir called "Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through
I want to ask you--and I hope you don't mind talking about this 'cause I know
it's something you've probably had to talk about a lot through your career,
but the Louis Malle film "Pretty Baby," which I think is from 1978, which is a
pivotal part of your career and an important part of Louis Malle's career and
is a really interesting movie. You played a 12-year-old growing up in a New
Orleans brothel, where your mother worked, and your mother was played by Susan
Sarandon. And this was a very controversial...
Ms. SHIELDS: Who now could not play my mother, ironically.
GROSS: What do you mean?
Ms. SHIELDS: She--I mean, she's so beautiful and young. Now I--it wouldn't
make sense if I was to be her daughter. I just think it's interesting. She
played my mother twice--in "King of the Gypsies" as well.
GROSS: Oh, that's right. That's right.
Ms. SHIELDS: And so now we sort of laugh about that. But I'm sorry.
GROSS: Well, anyway--so, you know, in this movie, you play a 12-year-old
growing up in a brothel. And although the film isn't explicit, there's things
like your virginity is auctioned off to the men at the brothel. There are
scenes in which you're watching adults having sex. And because you were very
young when you made it--What?--about 13 or something?
Ms. SHIELDS: Eleven.
GROSS: Eleven, wow. You know, there was...
Ms. SHIELDS: Almost my 12th birthday.
GROSS: ...a lot of controversy in the press. `Were, like, you being exposed
through this movie to things you shouldn't have been exposed to? Was your
mother right or wrong in allowing you to be in it? What impact was it going
to have on your life? Was Louis Malle wrong in making such a film?' Blah,
blah, blah, blah, blah (laughs). So, like, did you understand what was going
on in the movie hen?
Ms. SHIELDS: It's interesting because it was an incredibly important movie in
my life overall, I mean, so much so that I wrote my thesis at Princeton on it,
not just that film but on "Lacombe Lucien," which is another movie that Louis
did with--sort of exploring similar themes. And what's interesting now in--is
that it's a mild movie in comparison to movies nowadays. And I was 11; I had
my 12th birthday on the film set. And I grew up in Manhattan, you know, so I
grew up knowing what 42nd Street looked like, seeing sort of the decadence of
the city and seeing sort of poverty and prostitution and all of that. And
nothing very pretty about it, actually, and it was just--you know, you grow up
in the city, and it was just my mom and I, and she was always very open to me
about what I saw and what it was.
And then to make a film and to work with a director--I don't think I knew how
incredible it was to work with Louis Malle at that young an age. But what I
did know is that the beauty of the movie, cinematically and the costumes and
the age, that there was no sense of debauchery, or there was nothing sort of
dirty about the way the story was told. And, therefore, I was not
uncomfortable by it, nor did I feel that it was something that was
inappropriate. I mean, to me it seemed beautiful. Now naive or not, the
artistic value of working with Louis Malle and of sort of touching upon a very
controversial but true story was something that I don't think any of us ever
really questioned, and I still don't question it.
GROSS: You know, we were talking about what it's like to be photographed, you
know, by still photographers and by movie directors. In a way, that's an
issue within "Pretty Baby" because, you know, Keith Carradine plays a
photographer who likes to photograph prostitutes. And then, you know, you
kind of fall in love with each other, and you become his muse. He
photographs--dresses you up and photographs you. So, you know, the movie is,
in part, about being the subject of a photographer's gaze.
Let me play you a scene from "Pretty Baby." And in this scene Keith
Carradine, as the photographer Bellocq, walks into his bedroom and finds you
in his bed. And you tell him that you want to be his lover.
(Soundbite of "Pretty Baby")
Ms. SHIELDS: (As Violet) How can I make you so happy? You're just my kind of
man. You really are. I'm really good, you know, surely.
Mr. KEITH CARRADINE: (As Bellocq) Don't talk to me like that please. Don't
talk like a whore.
Ms. SHIELDS: (As Violet) Well, what do you want me to say? I feel something
inside here, so I say it. And when you go away, it hurts me right here.
Mr. CARRADINE: (As Bellocq) You're only hungry, Violet.
Ms. SHIELDS: (As Violet) And what's wrong with whores anyhow? I thought you
liked us. Everybody says I'm pretty. I'm getting to be filled out soon. All
the other men like me. Don't you like me?
GROSS: Brooke Shields, looking back, do you think that this scene might have
been difficult for Keith Carradine to do?
Ms. SHIELDS: You know, he has such integrity, and his love and his respect
for me just as a person really was--I think stemmed from what he knew to be
true of the story between these two people and it being a true story.
Anything that he did, he did it with a level of kindness and sort of
unavoidable affection, you know. And in those days, too, the age difference
was not as sort of focused on as it is today and right and wrong with regards
to relations and relationships and especially in New Orleans in the 1900s. It
was very, very different then. So I think his ability to be moved by the
innocence of this young girl and her--she was very forthright, even if she was
parroting what she heard other women say or what she heard her mother say,
what she saw to be true, there was this--it seemed to have all been reduced
very quickly to simply these two people and the emotions that they felt.
Now whether, for the young girl, it was more transient or more, you know, a
whim and whether it was--for him, it was something more important and sort of
more in-depth I would say, that I think was coming through those characters.
So he never--you know, Keith never seemed uncomfortable around me, and he
always made me feel very safe. I mean, I never felt like he was taking
advantage of the situation. I felt that he was being very true to the love
that he really did feel as a character for this very young woman.
GROSS: Just one more question about the film. Do you feel like you lost any
of your innocence working on the film or that you learned about things you
otherwise wouldn't have known about at that age?
Ms. SHIELDS: Not in terms of sexuality, by no means. But I think that--you
know, I thought movies were much more fun. I assumed they would be easier to
make. I didn't assume that they would be 14-, 16-hour days and that I would
be tired and hot and uncomfortable. And, you know, I mean, I think that I
lost my innocence with regards to the fantasy of filmmaking.
Ms. SHIELDS: That's for sure.
GROSS: I want to ask you about your husband, Chris Henchy, who you write
about a lot in your new memoir. He's a comedy writer. What's he writing for
Ms. SHIELDS: He's currently writing "Entourage," and then he's writing a film
for Universal for Will Ferrell, "Land of the Lost." He's going to be--he's
writing that movie.
GROSS: So I've always wondered, when your husband's a comedy writer, is he
funny at home? You know how, like, some comedy writers are actually really
depressed most of the time and not necessarily funny?
Ms. SHIELDS: Most stand-up comics are really depressed, but, no, he's funny
all throughout the day, and he's got a wry sense of humor that is just--it's
not--sort of doesn't infringe, and yet it makes everything--heavier situations
seem a little bit lighter and lighter situations even funnier.
GROSS: Was there a point during your postpartum depression that he stopped
being funny? That things have gotten so bad...
Ms. SHIELDS: Yeah.
GROSS: ...that he just wasn't funny anymore? And was that a clue for you
that things were really out of control?
Ms. SHIELDS: You know, postpartum depression is a very self-absorbed place
that you get to, and I would have been hard-pressed to really care about
anybody else's emotions at that time because my situation seemed so dire to
me. But I will say now, especially in hindsight, there was a huge gap, there
was a huge sort of place in which he had lost his humor. And he had lost a
great deal of confidence in me in the sense that he was afraid that he didn't
have the answers and that he didn't know what was going on. And there's very
little room for humor there because he didn't know where he was standing. And
I think that--and then at the same time he was having to be Mr. Mom to an
infant. And I think it was such a shock to his system as well that he--it
took a while for him to get his sense of humor back. I mean, it took a while
for him to be able to make fun of me again, which is, unfortunately for me, a
great deal of his sense of humor.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. SHIELDS: But, you know, I have to admit it's always funny. But the way
he would make fun of me and sort of--I used to love that, and I still love it.
There was a period when he was even afraid to do that, and it was just because
you didn't know what was going to send me over the edge.
GROSS: Are you confident that the postpartum depression was depression that
would only exist during the postpartum period and that you're not going to go
through a repeat episode of depression unrelated to childbirth?
Ms. SHIELDS: Having not had any history of depression myself, it--and this
being the first place in which it has, you know, come in, creeped in, I'm not
concerned. I think the concern is much more when I have my next child, and I
think that's--I'm much more focused on that. No, I've never had it before.
However, if this has opened up some type of brain passage or if this has now
sort of opened up something within me that is now, you know, something to
watch, I at least know what to look for and how not to stay in it for any
length of time...
Ms. SHIELDS: ...how to get the help that I need.
GROSS: And I think I heard you say, `When I have my next child'...
(Soundbite of laughter)
GROSS: Reading this book, I wasn't sure I'd ever hear you say that because it
was such a really bad experience. It sounded like you would probably choose
to never have a second child.
Ms. SHIELDS: But part of what made it so bad is the lack of knowledge that I
have of the possibility that it could exist. I mean, I just--now that I know,
I know that there are medications to take that are safe during the third
trimester, that there are medications safe for breast-feeding, that there
are--I know what the signs to look for are. I know that anything in excess of
two weeks is something I have to pay close attention to with regards to
unhappiness after childbirth.
So I'm not--if anything, I am less afraid because I now have the power of
knowledge on my side. And I have people around me that have seen me go
through it; seen me before, during and after and have understood why. And
they remain my support team. So I can't wait to have another baby, and if I
start to feel like I'm going down that road again, well, I know what my
resources are now.
GROSS: So how old is your baby now, and how are you feeling now?
Ms. SHIELDS: Well, Rowan will be two the 15th of May, and she is the light of
my life. She is absolutely--she's hysterical. She's so funny. She just
amazes me every day. And I just--I'm finally--and it--I have been for quite
some time now--feeling what I had thought that I always would feel with
regards to the joy of motherhood and how everything is worth it.
GROSS: Brooke Shields, thank you so much for talking with us.
Ms. SHIELDS: Thank you for having me.
GROSS: Brooke Shields' new memoir is called "Down Came the Rain: My Journey
Through Postpartum Depression." She's now starring in a production of
"Chicago" in London's West End.
Coming up, Ken Tucker reviews the debut CD by Nic Armstrong and The Thieves, a
British band that evokes Beatles-era pop. This is FRESH AIR.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Review: Nic Armstrong and The Thieves' new CD, "The Greatest White
TERRY GROSS, host:
Nic Armstrong is a 25-year-old from England with an uncanny knack for making
new rock music that harks back to Beatles-era pop. He and his band, The
Thieves, performed at this year's annual South by Southwest Music Festival in
Austin and caused a stir with their exuberant energy. Rock critic Ken Tucker
reviews Armstrong's debut album, "The Greatest White Liar."
(Soundbite of "I Can't Stand It")
NIC ARMSTRONG AND THE THIEVES: (Singing) Wanna rock! Wanna rock! I was
lying in my room one day talking to the one I love. The phone went ring. It
made me think, and then a thought came into my mind.
Chorus: (Singing) In my mind.
NIC ARMSTRONG AND THE THIEVES: (Singing) ...(Unintelligible). She said,
`Could you wash it down?' You got your last chance, honey. I'm not gonna
hang around. I was...
KEN TUCKER reporting:
What distinguishes someone who builds on a tradition from someone who merely
imitates it? Well, to begin with, you have to convey an understanding and
mastery of that tradition without weighing it down with self-consciousness or
irony. And it helps if you can add something to the tradition that you're
nodding to as well. Nic Armstrong succeeds on both counts. No current pop
rocker can so uncannily reproduce the kind of music that was coming out of
England in the early '60s. The song I just played, "I Can't Stand It," is a
good Beatles-style rave-up, while this tune, "Broken Mouth Blues," features
Armstrong doing a tart send-up of the young Mick Jagger.
(Soundbite of "Broken Mouth Blues")
NIC ARMSTRONG AND THE THIEVES: (Singing) I got my eyes on your charm when you
hold that threat to my throat. Looking at all the corners in the room, tryin'
to find angles that will work. Gonna take somebody else to get me to come
back to you. Gonna take somebody else to do all the things you want to do.
But if you want a hero...
TUCKER: The music made by Nic Armstrong and The Thieves has a buoyancy, a
cavalier recklessness that frees it from the stiffness of too many bands that
look backward and never move forward commercially. Whereas bands of a
previous generation, ranging from Big Star to The Flamin' Groovies, always
struggled to ape the sound they loved while trying to let you know that they
were in on the joke, the music is no joke to Nic Armstrong. He recognizes
that the stuff not just by The Beatles and the Stones, but also the Dave
Clark Five, The Animals and American groups, like The Mamas & The Papas and
The Standells, had a core of urgency, an almost desperate earnestness.
On an original song like "On A Promise," Armstrong sings about the morning
after a night spent with his true love with both realistic details and a nice,
(Soundbite of "On A Promise")
NIC ARMSTRONG AND THE THIEVES: (Singing) If you wait and see what you're
doing to me, if you tease me now, you might as well let me out. Well, I could
(unintelligible) or even furrow my brow if you tease me now. As you get
TUCKER: To be sure, there are times when Armstrong and The Thieves, so
confident as they are about their powers to summon up the sound of a bygone
era, can't help but toss in a clever homage. Listen to a bit of "Down Home
Girl" and tell me where the guitar riff comes from.
(Soundbite of "Down Home Girl")
NIC ARMSTRONG AND THE THIEVES: (Singing) Girl, I swear the ...(unintelligible)
you wear is made out of turnip greens. Every time you kiss me, girl, it
tastes like pork and beans. Even though you're wearing them
(unintelligible) high heels, I can tell by your giant steps you'll be walking
through the cotton fields. Ohh, you're so down home, girl. Every time...
TUCKER: OK, everyone who said Donovan's "Sunshine Superman," raise your
hands. It's fun, isn't it? Yet it's not all fun. Armstrong knows that
underpinning a lot of the best music of the '60s was a demand for freedom, for
self-respect, for the chance to take your place on the stage of the world.
Much of that sentiment comes across on a vehement song like "Back in That
(Soundbite of "Back in That Room")
NIC ARMSTRONG AND THE THIEVES: (Singing) You have done nothing wrong, yeah.
You got absolutely nothing to say now. But don't get yourself into a state.
I'm wondering, wondering, wondering ...(unintelligible) about. Yes, I'm
wondering, wondering, wondering if I'm in the mess I'm in now. So if it's
easy for you, it's not so easy for me. If you can do what you do, I can do
what I please. If you're looking to me for love, you better love yourself
TUCKER: I understand that in their live shows, the rest of The Thieves share
lead vocals with Armstrong, and I'll bet that's pretty amusing. But right
now, on this record, all I want to hear is the precociously scratchy, wasted,
go-for-broke holler and croon of Nic Armstrong. He sounds like he wants to
conquer love, conquer the world or explode trying.
GROSS: Ken Tucker is film critic for New York Magazine. He reviewed "The
Greatest White Liar" by Nic Armstrong and The Thieves.
GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.
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