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Brooke Shields and Drew Barrymore Open Up About Their Complicated Maternal Relationships

Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for The Cove, Paradise Island
Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for The Cove, Paradise Island

Brooke Shields has been very open about her relationship with her late mother, Teri, since she passed away in 2012. The two shared a difficult and complicated relationship, as Teri was a controlling and overbearing alcoholic who was apparently obsessed with her daughter. At the same time, Shields was young and didn’t know any better than to listen to her mother. Appearing on The Drew Barrymore Show, she sat down with host Drew Barrymore to discuss her biographical documentary Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields. She had plenty to say about her relationship with Teri, and Drew opened up about her own mom.

Shields said her mother was ‘in love’ with her

A portrait of Brooke and Teri Shields, Teri hugging her daughter from behind.
Portrait of American actress and model Brooke Shields and her mother (and manager) Teri Shields, New York, New York, 1978. (Photo Credit: Robert R McElroy / Getty Images)

On the show, Barrymore began to offer comparisons between her upbringing and Shields’, as they both grew up as child stars with complicated relationships with their mothers. Barrymore explained that her own mother, Jaid Barrymore, “went and dated my boyfriends” because she was so enamored with her she that had to be with the same men her daughter had been with. She asked if Shields’ mother had been the same.

Shields replied, “No, because she was in love with me.” Teri was 32 years old when she gave birth to Brooke, and as soon as she was born, “I was her main focus and both of us were gonna be cut off from our sexuality,” Shields explained. “I was going to stay a virgin, she was going to be just Teri Terrific and being there.”

Shields was exposed to the seedier side of life at an extremely young age because of her mother. Teri has been accused of trying to form Shields into a sexually provocative person while also preserving her purity. It dramatically affected Shields, who admits that she wishes she had not made her then-boyfriend Dean Cain wait so long before she lost her virginity at the age of 22 – “for his sake and mine.”

“So it’s like… it’s so layered, and it’s so needy and it’s so sad and broken,” she said of her relationship with her mother.

She feels that her mother wanted her all to herself

Teri Shields hugging Brooke Shields from the side.
Brooke Shields and her mom, Teri Shields circa 1981 in New York City. (Photo Credit: Sonia Moskowitz / IMAGES / Getty Images)

Later in the interview, Barrymore asked why Teri was always there whenever Shields was doing an interview, as that was far from what she’d experienced with her own mother. Shields replied, “It was, no one’s gonna get you, I’m gonna be there, I’m there first. You’re mine.”

Barrymore suggested that perhaps it was a way of Teri showing protection over her daughter in the world of show business. Shields feels that there was more to it than that. She said it was, “I’m not going to give you to somebody…. Under the guise of protection, but it was more ownership and fear, I think,” she explained.

After both spoke openly about their strange relationships with their mothers, Barrymore commented, “We’re sitting here laughing about the fact that our moms were so in love with us that they behaved so absolutely inappropriately and we have our sense of humor intact and I love us for that.” Shields’ response: “I mean, they’re our moms.”

Barrymore called Teri the first ‘momager’

Brooke and Teri Shields posing for a photo together.
Brooke Shields and Teri Shields circa 1980 in New York City. (Photo Credit: Bettina Cirone / IMAGES / Getty Images)

It seems Teri was an inspiration to other mothers out there serving as showbiz managers for their children. Barrymore admitted that her own mother had taken inspiration from Teri when managing Barrymore’s career when she was a child. Barrymore even called Teri “the original momager.”

Unfortunately, both child stars were unaware of how grossly their mothers were taking advantage of them. They only recognized that doing what they were told resulted in their family getting things. “It was all I knew, you know what I mean?,” Shields said to Barrymore. “But we got stuff. It’s like, I did a movie and we got a car.” She continued, saying that as a child,  “All I knew was, keep my mother alive, keep dancing and get stuff.”

In her memoir, There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me, Shields explained her mother’s influence in her life, writing, “My life—those forty-eight years of it—always existed somehow in reaction to hers. She affected everything in my life. She was at the apex of it all. Nearly everything I did was for her, in response to her, because of her, or in spite of her.”

Looking back, Shields is proud of the way she and Barrymore have both grown from their unusual upbringings. “But to emerge from it not angry or jaded, it’s in there… it’s something in your character, it’s in my character. Doing this documentary, it’s given me a life in the most interesting way,” she said.

Barrymore had to deny she wished her mother was dead

Drew and her mother in 1982
ET star Drew Barrymore poses for a photograph June 8, 1982 with her mother Jaid Barrymore in New York City. (Photo Credit: Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)

In a May 2023 interview with Vulture, Drew Barrymore inevitably talked about her relationship with her mother Jaid. She brought up an ‘aha’ moment she’d had regarding protecting herself from her mom’s toxic love. “All their moms are gone, and my mom’s not,” she said about her peers’ mothers. “And I’m like, Well, I don’t have that luxury. But I cannot wait. I don’t want to live in a state where I wish someone to be gone sooner than they’re meant to be so I can grow. I actually want her to be happy and thrive and be healthy.”

The statement, which she almost immediately expressed regretting, was repeated by some in the media as if she wished her mother was dead. Barrymore took to an Instagram video to address the “tabloids” who reported her words falsely.

More from us: Drew Barrymore Finally Speaks About The ‘Torture’ Of Alcohol

“Don’t twist my words around or ever say that I wish my mother was dead. I have never said that,” Barrymore insisted. “I never would. In fact, I go on to say that ‘I wish that I never have to live an existence where I would wish that on someone.’ Because that is sick.”

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!