For her latest flick, “The Greening of Whitney Brown,” Brooke Shields found herself deep in the Georgia wilderness — not exactly what she’s used to calling home.
“I’m born and bred in Manhattan,” Shields tells Metro. “I’m not squeamish about the country and I love it — I had horses for a long time and loved being outdoors and camping — but I’m concrete through and through.”
Shields, 46, plays Joan Brown, whose daughter, Whitney, is the most popular girl at her middle school — not to mention a real brat. When Shields’ onscreen husband (Aidan Quinn) loses his job, the family is uprooted to her father-in-law’s abandoned farm, nowhere near civilization. Put mildly, this doesn’t go over too well with Whitney. But without the presence of iPhones, computers and TVs, she’s forced to take a step back and rediscover what it really means to act like a kid.
As a mom of two in real life, Shields embraced the simple living message.
“I think we’ve lost the value of actual communication,” she says. “You have to really be cognizant of talking with your kids, of spending actual time with them.”
Though Shields was once a child star, she says that she didn’t really need to show Sammi Hanratty, who plays Whitney, the ropes.
“Working with Sammi was such a joy because she’s already innately lovely and professional, and takes it seriously, and doesn’t act entitled, and is polite,” she says. “These are things, as a young star, you hope to see and I attribute a lot of that to [her] mom and dad.”
The actress herself has her own methods for raising children with good manners: not giving into their every wish, and constant reminders of the magic words. “You gotta be a pain in the ass about it,” she says.
“I think so many parents are afraid of not being liked by their kids that they don’t discipline them. You can discipline with respect,” she says. “I attribute a lot of the way I parent to the way I was parented. I say to my daughter, ‘I just want you invited back to other peoples’ houses.’ When I get emails from other moms saying ‘Oh my god, your daughter was so polite,’ it just makes me happy for you, for your future, more than patting myself on the back.”
And although living a little “greener” is at the heart of the flick, Shields admits that she’s not perfect when it comes to being eco-friendly.
“I try to be really honest about it, otherwise I would be kind of considered a hypocrite,” she says. “I try to do what I can and then feel good about it, and then slowly but surely introduce other things. For me to say I’m gonna go all green, its just not realistic. We’re noticing that the school my girls go to is very, very green and their big focus is on educating kids, so a lot times I’ll actually learn from my 8-year-old. Every time I get comfortable with a new set point of green I’m able to introduce something else, so it stays in my life. It’s like a diet.”
While she’s currently a star of the big-screen (And Broadway too: She wraps her run as Morticia in “The Addams Family” on Dec. 31), the former “Suddenly Susan” star says she would have no qualms about returning to TV — if the right role presented itself.
“If an opportunity like that came up again, in a heartbeat I would do it,” she says. “I would not leave this city though. I’ve made a very conscious move to stay here and raise our kids here, so a show would have to be shot here.”