The Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate's Cove star talks about making a family film, raising a child with special needs, and helping her two teen daughters navigate social media.

By Anna Halkidis
May 13, 2021
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Denise Richards
Credit: Illustration by Francesca Spatola; Photographer: Gilles Toucas

Denise Richards may have taken on risqué roles throughout her decades-long career, but the mom of three enjoys getting the opportunity to star in family movies her kids can also enjoy. Her latest, Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate's Cove, is hitting digital platforms and on demand Friday, and it's filled with things kids tend to appreciate—pirates, time travel, a talking bird, and adventure.

"It's fun for me to do a movie that my youngest daughter can watch, because a lot of the movies I have done in the past she can't—except for the Christmas ones," says the Bold and the Beautiful star.

She adds her 9-year-old daughter, Eloise, will watch the film this weekend as Richards lingers close by. "I really do not like to watch my stuff," says Richards. "I haven't seen most of my stuff since the beginning of my career when I didn't know you can leave after the lights go down." Once she noticed more seasoned actors at the time leaving premieres, Richards started to do the same. "It's painful to watch myself," she jokes.

In Timecrafters, Richards stars as Victoria Dare, the mom of Josh, played by Nickelodeon star Casey Simpson. He's one of a group of kids in the film who find an ancient map and try to outsmart time traveling pirates looking for lost treasure. For parents who are watching along with their little ones, they will see more familiar faces, including Eric Balfour (Richards' 2005 Sex, Love & Secrets co-star), Patrick Muldoon, whom Richards calls one of her best friends, and Malcolm McDowell.

It's another fun film for families to add to their watchlist during the pandemic, which Richards, like most parents, says has been a challenging time. It was particularly tricky dealing with school, especially for Eloise, who has special needs. Adopted in 2011, Eloise was diagnosed with Chromosome 8, Monosomy 8p, a rare chromosomal disorder that causes developmental delays.

"This is all we know with her. So, we've grown with her since she was a baby," says Richards. "But she's a sweet little angel and the happiest little girl and the littlest things make her so happy." The family has nicknamed Eloise the "animal whisperer" because, despite currently saying only about 12 words, their dogs listen to her. "She communicates in other ways with our animals," says Richards. "It is so sweet and so special to see that relationship."

Another parenting issue Richards is working through is helping her teen daughters, Sam, 17, and Lola, 15, navigate social media, something that has been a critical conversation during the pandemic—teens' use has increased and concerns about its effects on mental health have come to forefront. "I really do think it's not healthy for kids at all and there's a responsibility with it," says the former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star.

Richards, who also works with the Quantum Reach Foundation, founded by husband Aaron Phypers to benefit kids and animals, sees how damaging social media can be firsthand. "When I get negative comments, there's times where even at my age," she says, "it still hurts and it's hard." She adds, "I'm still having those conversations, and they're endless, and it's very challenging."

On a positive note, the pandemic has made way for more of these discussions and family time. "I feel that this forced us all to just slow down," says Richards. "And for that, I am so grateful, because it was really nice to have that quality time."

Anna Halkidis is the features editor at Parents.com. Keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram.