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Brooke Shields Says She Felt "Forced" Into Falling for Her "Blue Lagoon" Co-Star at 14

Shields starred alongside 18-year-old Christopher Atkins in the controversial movie.

In 1980, at just 14 years old, Brooke Shields starred in The Blue Lagoon, the controversial movie about two cousins who end up stranded on an island after a shipwreck around the turn of the 20th century. Living outside of society, they grow up together and end up falling in love and having a child. In addition to the outrageous premise, the film also included the two young characters going without clothing, though Shields had a body double for entirely nude scenes.

Now 57, Shields recently opened up about a certain problematic aspect of the making of The Blue Lagoon, outside of the scandalous nature of the film itself. On the Dec. 20 episode of her podcast, Now What? with Brooke Shields, the model and actor was joined by her co-star, Christopher Atkins, and she talked about how she felt "forced" into having romantic feelings for him off screen too. Read on to find out what she and her co-star had to say about their infamous film.

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Shields said she felt pressure to "fall in love" with Atkins.

Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins in "The Blue Lagoon"

During the podcast episode, Shields said, "What I remember, too, is they wanted us so desperately to fall in love with each other." At the time of filming, Atkins was 18 and a high school senior. Of the age gap from 14 to 18, she said, "That's a world of difference."

To this, Atkins responded, "It is a world of difference. You were just growing up, I mean, my gosh."

She felt that she was being "forced" by the filmmakers.

Brooke Shields in "The Blue Lagoon"
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Shields went on to explain that she didn't want to be "forced into feeling anything" by the adults making the movie.

"It also struck me, though, too, because I remember thinking, 'Hey, let's just get to know each other first rather than trying to make us fall in love with each other and force the situation,'" she said. "And I didn't react well to being forced into feeling anything. I wanted to sort of be left a little bit to my own. But I also was—I don't think I had kissed anybody, really, by that age."

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Atkins revealed how their director encouraged them to be interested in each other.

In a 2013 interview for Oprah: Where Are They Now?, Atkins talked about working with Shields and claimed director Randal Keiser had a unique tactic for encouraging chemistry between them.

"I was 18 and Brooke Shields was 14, and the director wanted us to be attracted to each other," Atkins said. "He stuck a picture of her over my bunk on the boat when I was first there just so I could start becoming attracted to her. He said, 'It will come out in your eyes, it will come out in real time on film.'"

He also implied that there was a real flirtation between him and Shields at first. "Brooke and I had a little bit of a romantic, innocent sort of romance in the very beginning of the film," he said. "It was very nice—we were very, very close friends, put it that way."

Shields' mother was also in favor of the relationship.

Christopher Atkins photographed in a car in 1983
P. Harris/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Atkins explained that when they were filming together in Fiji, Shields' mom, Teri Shields, was also invested in their dynamic.

"She basically wanted you out of horses and into boys sort of thing," he said, and added, "For the movie's sake, she wanted us to be closer together."

Shields said, "We never talked about this. That's a crazy position to put you in."

Atkins explained, "You were the closest person to my age at the time. I was 18. I had basically just turned 18 when we went out there." He added, "Of course, I was very attracted to you, because you were so smart and you were so kind and nice, and at the same time, you would also say it like it is."

They know the movie couldn't be made today.

Brooke Shields in "The Blue Lagoon"

Aside from the story and the nudity, the actors also shared other aspects of the production that wouldn't happen the same way today.
"Never again will a movie be made like that again. Ever. It wouldn't be allowed," Shields said on her podcast.

Atkins chimed in, "Oh gosh, no. Animals were hurt in the movie. We were spearing fish and all kinds of crazy things. Children are naked running down a beach. You just couldn't do that now." He also explained that they were both injured by coral in the ocean, had bug bites, and were made to climb coconut trees. "People don't know any of that stuff," the actor said. "It's not easy."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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