Brooke Shields speaks to U. in an exclusive interview:
What do your friends respect most about you?
I've been told that no matter what I achieve, I make time for my friendships and I don't act like my own time or goals are more important than theirs.
Do you do anything that makes your friends nuts?
I'm in constant motion. I don't know how to stop. I simply take everything on and I don't know yet how to have peace in my own heart. Sometimes [my friends] will "kidnap" me and make me do things like watch really bad TV and eat ice cream for hours.
What are the most important characteristics in the friendships you made during college?
Simplicity and loyalty. I need to know that people can accept me without placing me outside their daily circle. I need to know that I can really be myself and be accepted. Pressures at Princeton were very high and you needed the support of your friends. In college, you gain weight, your skin breaks out, the academics present a high level of anxiety - you need a place to feel safe, and that is with your friends. I still am very close to many of the women friends that I made there. I share an apartment in New York with one of them. I haven't stayed as close to some of my male friends, unfortunately. In several cases, they married women who were not comfortable with their husbands being friends with "Brooke Shields." It is sad.
Is it hard for you to have male friends?
Not for me. Last year I lost a very dear friend. And because he wasn't gay, and because we were not involved romantically, people had a very hard time understanding that friendship. Because they couldn't define us, they did not seem to be able to grasp the idea that we were just dear friends.
Do you miss anything from your college days?
I miss learning and the growth that comes with that. The days of reading screenplays can be vapid, and you find yourself fussing over minor details. Now that I have some time off, I really need to focus on learning again. The discipline that I gained in college has really helped me with my work ethic today. I learned at Princeton how to arrange my time. Also, I gained a great deal of pleasure from success in my classes - knowing that I could accomplish those things - and I realized that my success was directly proportionate to the work I put in.
How did you pick a major?
I wanted to be fluent in another language. I felt that I needed the major to accomplish that. Also, the English department was very large and the more classes I took, the more that French literature interested me.
So, how is your French today?
I could have a deep, meaningful conversation, but I'd have trouble getting my bike fixed. It takes me a few days of being in France to really start to get it back without having to conjugate in my head.
What was your favorite expression as a student?
"Have faith in your own thoughts." I learned in college that ultimately everything boils back down to that.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Professor Uitti. He taught Romance Languages, and he also taught me that I had original ideas. He helped me to feel safe with those ideas versus repeating back what others said. He is delightful. I still keep in touch with him. Whenever I'm going to do a new film I'll call and he will say, "Oh that story reminds me of this book, or that story," and he'll give me a whole wealth of references to read.
Where were your favorite getaways on campus?
I spent a lot of time at the student center, and there was a great muffin place right across the main street. The truth is that I studied so much, I didn't have large windows of time anywhere except in my cubicle at the library.
If you weren't an actor, what else might you have liked to do with your life professionally?
I could have easily worked with children and their education.
When you were a student, did you know you would go back to acting?
I didn't know it would matter to me. I was just focused on the university and knowledge.
Do you stay involved with Princeton?
Not directly - through friends. It was such a great time for me that I've actually avoided going back since I don't want to have anything in my mind change. I've thought about going to my reunion this year, but.... Princeton was the first place where I learned to work at something from the inside out, instead of having things work from the outside toward me. That has set a precedent for everything in my life.
What dreams haven't you yet fulfilled?
To be a mother.
If you could spend the weekend with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Right now, it would be Wallace Stegner, who wrote "The Angle of Repose." He has a wonderful way of looking at life and commitment, and I'd love to pick his brain.
What are your favorite books?
C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity," Baudelaire's "Fleurs de Mal," and Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past."
What music do you listen to?
Bette Midler, Mozart, Bruce Coburn, and Eagle Eye Cherry.
What don't people know about you?
I don't know either.... Sometimes I think people choose one side or one element in me, or in others. Very few people see the whole picture. But I, personally, don't know that I need them to.
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