Brooke Shields Was Left With “Infected And Ulcerated” Wounds And Pneumonia When She Filmed The Seriously Controversial Movie “The Blue Lagoon” At 14

“Animals were hurt in the movie," Brooke's costar, Christopher Atkins, said. "We were spearing fish and all kinds of crazy things. Children are naked running down a beach.”

Brooke Shields was just 14 years old when she starred in the highly controversial movie The Blue Lagoon.

Close-up of a young Brooke

Released in 1980, the film follows two cousins, Emmeline and Richard, who are shipwrecked on a tropical island as children. Most of the story is focused on their teenage years, which shows the two characters fall in love and conceive a child.

Emmeline and Richard embracing amid the grass and wearing just loincloths

The Blue Lagoon is considered incredibly scandalous because of its scenes of child nudity. Brooke spends a large amount of the movie with just her hair covering her breasts, and an adult body double was used when her character was exposed.

Brooke and Christopher Atkins embracing

Meanwhile, her costar, Christopher Atkins, did not have a body double because he’d just turned 18. And when the two actors reunited on Brooke’s podcast, Now What? With Brooke Shields, this week, they reflected on their filming experience and admitted that The Blue Lagoon would never be made today.

Christopher and Brooke as adults

In addition to the nudity and controversial content, Christopher recalled hurting real animals in some scenes, as well as the lax health and safety practices during the shoot.

The movie was filmed on an island that was on a coral reef, which meant that the water would infect and ulcerate any cut or wound that the cast or crew had.

Beach scene

And because Brooke and Christopher wore so little clothing during filming and had to climb trees, they were often covered in injuries and bug bites. On the podcast, the stars even said that a member of the crew ended up with “a green hole in the back of his calf for three months” due to a wound infection.

Christopher holding Brooke in the movie

Brooke also ended up coming down with pneumonia during the shoot, but she still filmed her character’s birthing scene while sick.

Brooke lying down in her hut with Christopher next to her

All of this has left Brooke and Christopher absolutely convinced that The Blue Lagoon was a unique experience that could never be replicated.

Brooke smiling on the red carpet

“Never again will a movie be made like that, ever,” Brooke told her costar. “I mean, it wouldn’t be allowed.”

“Oh gosh, no,” Christopher agreed. “Animals were hurt in the movie. We were spearing fish and all kinds of crazy things. Children are naked running down a beach; couldn’t do that now.”

Christopher in the ocean spearing fish

In fact, Christopher said the nudity was so “important” to the movie’s director, Randal Kleiser, that as soon as he and Brooke arrived on the island, they were told that they needed to get an allover tan.

Brooke and Christopher smiling

“We were never eased into it,” Brooke recalled. “We got there, and they instantly wanted us to be tanned. Remember, they set up those little thatched areas so that we could get tanned without tan lines.”

Close-up of Emmeline

“I know. You were right next to me, and that was even stranger because you were only 14 at the time,” Christopher replied.

Emmeline looking up

They then clarified that there was a makeshift wall separating them as they lay in a hut that had no ceiling so that they could lie naked in private while still being exposed to the sun’s rays.

Brooke and Christopher at a table

And although Brooke and Christopher couldn’t see each other while sunbathing in the nude, Brooke was left feeling uncomfortable when she had to film with Christopher while he was exposed.

Richard in a loincloth

"There were scenes where I was butt naked with you, if you remember, sliding down that slide and things like that,” Christopher said. "And that was a little awkward, but it was kind of funny for me because at this point in time, I would just do it. But your reaction was, ‘Ugh, oh god.’”

Richard on the beach holding a spear

And Brooke admitted that she was thinking at the time, Why do I have to look at this? I’d never seen one before — I’m not going to start now.

Emmeline resting her chin on Richard's chest

Meanwhile, she had to wear nipple covers before having her long hair stuck to her body to hide her chest. “We were wearing little strips of clothing, and my hair was taped to my body to cover my boobs, which were very minimal anyway,” she said.

Emmeline holding a parrot

“Remember the bumpy pads?” Brooke went on. “They would stick these little flesh-colored things on my nipples because nipple, evidently, was where they drew the line in this movie.”

Brooke as an adult

Brooke also recalled the movie’s producers trying to force a real-life romance between her and Christopher, which she found bizarre because their age gap at the time “was a world of difference.”

Richard and Emmeline kissing

“They wanted us so desperately to fall in love with each other,” she said. “I did not react well being forced into feeling anything. I hadn’t even kissed anybody by that age.”

Christopher and Brooke on a high-rise balcony

And Christopher then dropped the bombshell that even Brooke’s mom, Teri, had tried to make a romance happen between them. Prior to filming, she invited him to live at their family home for a few days so that they could get to know each other before working together — but Christopher revealed on the podcast that she also had ulterior motives.

Brooke as a child with her mom

“She basically wanted you out of horses and into boys,” he told Brooke, who was obviously shocked. “For the movie’s sake, she wanted us to be closer together and be near each other and be able to have that, whether it’s the brother and sister or whether it’s the love story.”

Brooke with her arm around her mom's shoulders

He added, “I’m sure she was pushing for more of the boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. But at the same time, you’re 14 — I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place here!”

Brooke and Christopher smiling

Brooke admitted this was “a crazy position” for Christopher to have been put in, but she also said they had “amazing” chemistry on camera that was probably due to their “innocence.”

Richard and Emmeline close together

Discussing the more dangerous aspects of filming the movie, Christopher said, “There were long hours and there was a lot of physical stuff in that movie. Climbing those coconut trees, man, I was chafed up to no end. Running over the coral and stuff, all the bug bites and coral cuts and all the other crazy things. The fevers and everything we had, people don’t know any of that stuff — it’s not easy.”

Richard and Emmeline running on the beach

“The bugs were crazy, the wild crabs were crazy, the wild horses were nuts, and then the infestation of rats,” Brooke agreed. “People don’t know that The Blue Lagoon was on an island and that was on a coral reef.”

Close-up of Emmeline

She continued, “Any kind of cut you had and you went in the water, bits of the coral would get into the cut and it’d become completely infected and ulcerated. Ray [Brown] had a green hole in the back of his calf for like three months.”

Underwater scene

Brooke continued, “We were like the Wild West, but it just happened to be on the water. And I remember I got pneumonia. In the birthing scene, when I’m supposed to be having the baby, I uncontrollably can’t breathe and have a coughing fit, and everyone’s like, 'What a great acting choice!' I’m like, ‘I can’t breathe!’”

Emmeline, Richard, and their baby

Brooke previously admitted that because of her young age, she had felt disconnected from the reality of what she was doing while shooting The Blue Lagoon.

Richard and Emmeline kissing in the water

Writing in her 2014 memoir, There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me, the star explained, “It was a really interesting disconnect. You sort of desensitize yourself to anything sexual. In Blue Lagoon, I’m using a glue gun, taping my hair, anything I can, so my body doesn’t show I have boobs. And I didn’t realize I was doing it, because I was a kid. I was in a cocoon with my mom.”

Topics in this article

Skip to footer