Fans of the ’80s series Moonlighting will never forget the chemistry between Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis, who played private detectives Maddie Hayes and david Addison, one of TV’s most iconic will-they-won’t-they couples. And, if you ask Shepherd, that chemistry was very real off-screen, too. The star has opened up over the years about her, at times, contentious relationship with Willis, and how their real-life tension translated to the screen.
But, while their chemistry helped make Moonlighting what it was, in a new interview, Shepherd revealed why she knew that, despite that connection, she could never actually date Willis. Read on to see what she had to say.
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“I just have to say one thing about Bruce. No one else was ever considered for the part when he walked in the room,” Shepherd said of Moonlighting. “My temperature went up 10 degrees. That meant two things to me: one, I was very attracted to him, two, I would never act on it, ’cause we were both very attracted to each other.”
Shepherd added, “I will always love Bruce.”
In her 2000 book Cybill Disobedience (via the New York Post), Shepherd wrote about a time when she and Willis really did hook up. She said that at one point she asked, “Are we going to do something about this or what?” So, he came over to her place and, as she put it, “it wasn’t long before we were passionately sucking face.” But, they had second thoughts about taking things any further because they were still working together. “We never did finish what we started,” she wrote.
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Shepherd has said that she and Willis often got into it on the set of Moonlight.
“Oh yes, we had fights all the time,” she said in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation. “And that was part of the preparation was that working up to it, you know, so it was real.”
Similarly, she told Entertainment Weekly in 2005, “I remember at one point in the show, it had gotten to where we just hated each other. It was a very volatile show anyway, but that’s also what made it great.”
In a 2012 interview with HuffPost, Willis looked back on his time making Moonlighting. While he didn’t talk about Shepherd in particular, he had fond memories.
“I have a lot of good memories about it—a lot of great memories about it,” he said. “There are all of those memories I have about the fun and frantic pace we were working at to get 10 pages every day, out of seven shooting days. That’s one thing. The other thing is it was a huge quantum leap for me. I had just been doing theater in New York and I think I had done one TV role, on Miami Vice. And then I got this job in California and it was a huge leap. A very exciting time—just to be able to offered that kind of work and then get a job where you do it for five years.”
When a Comedy Central roast was held for Willis in 2018, Shepherd was one of the participants and she joked about their working relationship.
“Our characters on Moonlighting weren’t much of a stretch,” she said. “I played a former model, which I was. And he played an [expletive], which he is. Bruce and I were really attracted to each other, but familiarity can breed contempt, so we didn’t act on it. Too bad. Because based on how much we ended up hating each other, the sex would have been incredible.”
At the end, she added, as Willis laughed along, “Sure, our relationship was volatile and sometimes explosive, but in the end it was the perfect formula for success. I know we haven’t had a conversation in 30 years, but we’ll have something more important: residuals.”