BUBBLING Brooke "I have a lot to do yet and I have yet to scratch the surface of . . . my potential as an actress."

October 17, 1991|By Susan Baer | Susan Baer,Washington Bureau of The Sun

Washington -- It's wildly tall, wildly stunning Brooke Shields with her mom, her smile and a few minutes to spare after kicking off a Toys for Tots campaign at Union Station yesterday.

Dressed in a scarlet suit with aubergine pumps, she's handed out gifts to dozens of kids, kissed a bunch of babies, posed with Marines, signed autographs and cranked out a sound bite for "Entertainment Tonight." Now she's got a break.

So what does one dive into with Brooke and mom and 10 minutes?

The Clarence Thomas hearings? "I'm just glad it's over," says manager mom Teri. It's clear nobody really wants to get into that.

Brooke's love life? No fun there. She's not involved with anyone right now, she says.

Liz Taylor's wedding? Bingo!

"Michael asked me to come and be his date," says Ms. Shields, referring, of course, to her longtime friend Michael Jackson who hosted wedding held earlier this month at his California ranch. "It was exciting, but it was also very family-oriented -- very small and just family and friends."

And a cargo of helicopters whirring overhead, angering guests like Ms. Shields who couldn't hear the couple's exchange of vows. But no matter.

"Liz turned to the minister and said, 'It's OK. It's just for us.' I read her lips," says Ms. Shields. "And that was all I needed to hear because then I wasn't disturbed about anything because I knew she was content."

Now Ms. Shields is on a roll: Michael danced with the bride, so Brooke, acting as a makeshift "mother of the bride" was left to dance with the groom, 39-year-old construction worker Larry Fortensky. "It was very funny," she says. "He's terrific. He's very low-key. He takes control, but in a quiet way."

She gave the newly wedded couple a set of pillow cases -- antique linen cases with "mine" and "yours" embroidered on them -- from her own trousseau assembled for her by her grandmother.

And best of all, in honor of the 59-year-old beauty and Hollywood legend, Ms. Shields wore violet contact lenses.

"I was like, 'Liz, look!' and she's like, 'Oooh. Don't they hurt? I hope it's worth it.' And I said, 'Of course it's worth it . . . I look like you.' "

Of course, it's no great shame looking like Brooke Shields.

At 26, with a slew of monumentally forgettable movies to her name, her looks -- gray eyes, flawless skin, and hair that curves around her face like a dangerously winding road -- are still her calling card.

She, however, would beg to differ.

"I don't think it does me a lot of good to think, 'Well, people only think I'm beautiful.' Because it's not true," says Ms. Shields, a 1987 graduate of Princeton University. "It's been proven to myself that it's not true. Plus I know what's inside of me.

"I always think of university because nobody ever thought in their lives that a woman who was an actress could make it through university. That's indicative of the way I feel my career will go. It's just a matter of time."

She's hoping that her movie, "Brenda Starr," based on the comic strip about the "girl reporter," will be released late next month, although it's been tied up in litigation over distribution rights for years. She made the movie with British actor Timothy Dalton five years ago.

"If that's a reality I'll be ecstatic," she says of the film's scheduled opening in November. "It's a wonderful movie."

In the meantime, she's just back from Iowa where she filmed an Italian-produced movie, "Un Amore Americano" ("An American Love"), a four-hour piece that will be shown on Italian television and brought to the States in a shortened version. Ahead are commercials, modeling jobs for Cosmopolitan, Elle and Self, more public appearances for Toys for Tots, a campaign for which she is the honorary spokeswoman. And, she hopes, more movies.

"I read scripts all the time," says Ms. Shields, a New Yorker whose movie career began at age 8, and modeling career as an infant.

"I'm probably more ambitious than anybody could ever really realize. It's the same drive that I had when I went to college and graduated with honors. It's the same drive that I felt got me though the difficult parts of university life as well as a career at such a young age.

"I have a lot to do yet and I have yet to even scratch the surface of what I feel my potential is as an actress."

Part of what's left to do is get married, says the grown-up "Pretty Baby" who shares homes with her mother in New York, New Jersey and California. Although there's no man in her life right now, she's looking forward to a wedding of her own some day.

So, it seems, is her mother.

"Marriage? Oh yeah. She wants a house with a picket fence and babies and dogs and cats -- and a husband," says mother Shields.

"I want to have the whole thing," says the younger Ms. Shields, speaking at the same time as her mother to create a sort of duet on the subject of wedded bliss. "Everything. My little picture perfect world -- that I create constantly. That's the problem with being in the entertainment industry. I live in a movie."

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