Cybill Shepherd: Well, we rehearsed in Texas probably it seems like two weeks and we rehearse the love scenes in the motel in what they call a presidential suite. It was it was Peter's and Polly's room. We rehearsed all of the love scenes. It was a very heady, hot atmosphere because there was always Peter there and he was so sexy and attractive. And Timothy Bottoms, of course, sexy, wonderful, attractive, of course. Jeff sexy, wonderful and attractive.
Interviewer: And then of course, you, sexy.
Cybill Shepherd: It was so erotic. And I was so stimulated in so many ways, like, you know, intellectually, artistically by the talent around me. It was as if it was really happening, those love scenes. So we don't really play them in the movie. I didn't know which one of these guys I was going to be turned on to more. They were also wonderfully attractive. But I would say. Jeff. Yes, Jeff. And I think that's the probably the one time I ever broke the rule and messed around with someone I'm on camera with. Well, we had a great time, you know, 1970, you can only imagine. We were all staying the same motel there in Wichita Falls. And there was one day when Jeff and I were just out. There was a field in the back and Wichita Falls with tall grass and stuff like that. We were kind of rolling around and then all of a sudden a bug curled in my ear. And if you've if you've never had a bug in your ear, it feels like somebody is exploding dynamite inside your head. And I jumped up. I said oh my God, get it out get it out. And Jeff went out. He put his hand there in the book, came out onto his hand. It was a ladybug. And then it flew off. And I'll never forget that moment. Ladybugs would become a talisman for me in a lot of ways. The striving towards ease of the acting in pictures show the naturalness of it. And the was something that every actor was kept. That was cast was just brilliant at. It was like Timothy and Jeff, I felt as if I had known them and grown up and gone to high school with them forever. With Jeff, you know, we had we had love scenes that were very funny and there was nudity involved, which is a rare combination of a love scene with nudity being funny. And both Jeff and I were very, very funny. Very, very funny in that.
Interviewer: Well it's a remarkable scene. I mean, first of all.
Cybill Shepherd: We had too. We had the one where Jeff can't do it.
Interviewer: The scene I was referring to scene when he's just he can't do it. And his face. His face is extraordinary. These little, teeny, teeny, tiny little gestures. And you just know. Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God. And this is quite sophisticated acting for number one both of you being abject beginners, really?
Cybill Shepherd: Well, I was much more of an abject beginner than Jeff. He'd done one film before. He comes from one of the great show business families and tradition of actor in American all American history. And I never acted before. This turned out to be a great plus because I was a a blank slate. I didn't have any prejudices or ideas of things that I was suppose to do so that my first acting teachers, of course, would be the director, Peter Bogdanovich, but also the cast that would include Jeff, you know, and Ellen and Eileen and Cloris and Ben and Timothy.
Interviewer: Well, and, you know, but when I say big, it's still tough. Even if you got a little bit of chops that he had at that point to come in and do these kinds of scenes, just what you're saying. There's nudity involved, there's a camera on you. This has to be incredibly nuanced and feel incredibly real. And probably some of it is real. So here you are. It's just amazing. Talk about both scenes.
Cybill Shepherd: Well, the first scene of course, he can't do it right. I get very angry and he's hysterically funny. Jeff plays it, underplays it. I just wanna say something about Jeff Bridges in terms of American acting on film that he is a true original. You know, it's so amazing he's playing this part. The John Wayne made famous in Two Grit because there's never been an actor like him. He's right up there with John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, all the great actors with a very unique style. He never, ever overdoes it. He is often people say, well, De Niro's a master of underplaying things. Well, yes, but I think Jeff Bridges is the ultimate master of playing it real and underplaying it, which makes it so easy to to play off of him. And in that scene, The Last Picture Show where he's made he's doing these very subtle things that are hysterical. But the thing is, it's so real. It's not played broad. It's playing very simply. It was very difficult for me not to laugh. Very, very, very difficult because it was funny. But there's also also the thing about Jeff is you never. He never. He's always in. He's got this whatever. If it's funny, if it's moving, he's found this middle ground where he's playing it all real. And that's extremely rare. A lot of actors think that they're in a baseball game and they're supposed to hit a homerun every time. But acting isn't isn't hitting home runs out of the park. Acting is a tennis game. If you hit that ball out of the court, you have no game. And Jeff, since I have worked with some of the greatest actors of all time, I would say that he is just very unique and there'll never be another one like him. And God, I can't wait to work with him again. Hopefully I'm not too old.
Interviewer: Oh, I don't think so. I think this should be an invitation.
Cybill Shepherd: I could play his mother. That's what I do nowadays.
Interviewer: Well, Texasville. You come.
Cybill Shepherd: Oh yeah.
Interviewer: You come back at this actually younger than you're playing. I think you're suppose to play it 30 years later. And that's that's also quite unique. The opportunity now come back in the same go and see people 30 years later and to revisit that place and in that place in every way, place acting wise, the place physically where this whole thing happened.
Cybill Shepherd: Yes. Texasville was a unique and wonderful experience. One of my favorite scenes is the one where when I'm finally like homecoming queen of a town or something. And in real life, I never I didn't get I was nominated for homecoming queen, but I didn't win. But I have one still photograph in my book, Civil Disobedience of Jeff and I and I have my tiara on. And it's so wonderful to see the two of us again to be able to reprise those roles. That was extraordinary opportunity.
Interviewer: I imagine it was a little bit a little bit choking. It kind of chokes you up to think about it, because one doesn't get to sort of revisit things easily? And on top of this, you have real relationships there that are that surround this as well. So it's not simply the acting of it, but it's also the evolution of relationships. And then coming back into the same scene with so many people that it was so loaded for you with.
Cybill Shepherd: It was a little scary coming back to that town and redoing it.
Interviewer: Jeff said the same thing actually. He came back there. Peter said it too.
Cybill Shepherd: It was it was very difficult, actually. I think for all of us, there was there is a sense of 20 years past all the things that you that are in the past that you, you know, wish that were in the past and the things you're not really sure what your footing is in the town and how we're going to play off one another. And. But I just remember, Jeff in Texasville feel he has no vanity. And I remember he was doing this thing where he has lowering his chin and making himself a double chin in the movie. And I remember once we were talking, oh, we're doing Texas Monthly. We were doing the cover of Tough Texas Monthly, Jeff and I for Texasville. And he was he was talking about how if you want to look like you don't have this under here, you just pull your tongue up and go. The only problem is you can't breathe when you do that but anyway.
Interviewer: The Americanness of him, I've been commenting on this as well with various people and talk about American acting and with the American. Also, he's an American type. Both of you are. When you talk about also the sort of homecoming queen and the football hero and its small town Americana. It is asolutely. You actually have transcended it in a different way. Your career has been maybe to the more glamorous part of you comes back in different ways with him, though, I think that he really does epitomize it. And even the remark about the mirror. He comes at this in such a different way and in it there is something about him that just has such an American this to it that I couldn't imagine. Many of these other actors have work with European directors and so is he. But and you could imagine sort of going into, you know, going going into doing film, going on, doing films, other parts of the world. He somehow seems like he belongs in this idiom always.
Cybill Shepherd: You know, when I think about Jeff, sometimes I think about Gary Cooper. Gary Cooper is one of the great actors of all time. Again, American archetype of that never will happen again. When he was observed on the set, Gary Cooper looked as if he was doing nothing. He was such. He knew how to play at such a. He was doing only what was absolutely necessary and doing it in a way that was not showing off. And I would say that's true. But Jeff, probably sometimes if you saw him on the set, you wouldn't realize, do you see him on film, the nuances of what he does? He doesn't. He doesn't. He never Hitchcock said, don't, don't don't put a lot of scribble on your face. And I would say that Jeff is an excellent example of that. He inhabits the roles. I also think he's one of the kindest and most humble actors I've ever worked with. He only comes in with the desire to find this character and explore and have his character bloom in a way. And it's always unique and it is very, very American.
Interviewer: Yes.There's an authenticity inside of it that I. There's no mannerness to him either.
Cybill Shepherd: There's no mannerness to his acting. There's no indication so often what you'll see. And I think that's the reason why it took so long for Jeff to finally win his Oscar. He certainly deserved it many times before. Was that he's never doing this thing with the audience, which many actors do, that won awards. There's there's kind of indicating, they're showing to the, look, I'm acting watch. I'm acting, teeing it up, so to speak. The naturalness of that. He's he's not about that at all. And and that's kind of where, you know, it is since we started together with the same great teacher, Peter Bogdanovich. It was a fantastic education.
Interviewer: How did you work with him? First of all, so, so fresh, both of you. Still very bright, shiny new. And then you come back 20 years later to the same guy. And that that finding of the because the Jeff character, Dwayne, by the time you come back to Texasville, is not what you anticipate him to somehow become. You know, he goes off. He didn't get over J.C.. Yes. He goes off to the army. But you don't somehow expect that this guy is going to kind of evolve into this kind of a mogul in his own little right in that in that village, in that town and exhausted and fed up and, you know, weary, weary kind of. And you do believe that even though you wouldn't have seen it in the first in the first incarnation of that character. So working with Bogdanovich and working with Bogdanovich for you. First have your little romance with Jeff, then you, still becomes a very personal response for you with both these guys too.
Cybill Shepherd: Yes, Jeff went off to do his. What is it? National Guard service.
Interviewer: It's funny that he does that.
Cybill Shepherd: Sorry, Coast Guard. It is.
Interviewer: But it's funny that he got off to do this.
Cybill Shepherd: Coast Guard dutie.
Interviewer: He does it in the movie.
Cybill Shepherd: Yes, he does. Life is imitating art. I remember my my first scene in Last Picture Show as I was standing offstage. First thing that you see me, my introduction in the film. Peter came up because Jeff was out of town, whispered in my ear. I don't know who I want to sleep with more, You or J.C. And then said. And then they roll camera and he said, action. So when I come into that, I come in from the very front of the theater by the screen all the way up into a close up. What y'all doing back here in the dark? I have this special look of something, sort of fun.
Interviewer: Well, yeah, no, not knowing this reality in all of that, too, that it's not just an act and it's not just pretend in a certain way.
Cybill Shepherd: Yeah. We actors live for a living. When we can ask the audience to suspend their disbelief. When they get they know we're actors, they know it's not real what they're seeing. But that little bit of magic that happens when we have the right part and we're we're doing our best work. And I think that probably Jeff has the ability to have the audience suspend disbelief as much as anybody ever did.
Interviewer: Well in that picture, in the Last Picture Show, in that film, that feeling. Yeah, that just that feeling of the dead that you're not really acting allows also the audience to feel very, very close to you through all of it and achieving that. Getting back to getting back to Peter again for a moment, even though and I know he's talked too about how he and Jeff talked to about how Peter is so open and how Peter likes to sort of let things happen. And Peter, also what an amazing casting every single person was in that film. But then continuing to listen this very, very natural, very effortless feeling in people who were not really schooled in this. It wasn't you were this was uniquely new for both of you still, even if you even if you have had what he had coming into it. So I guess I'm trying to say is, how is how Peter how Peter pulled this out of the two of you, how Peter got you in and out of all this with all the nuance of what was going on, keeping you in the moments of the scenes?
Cybill Shepherd: Well, definitely, Peter knows exactly what he wants from from his actors in each scene. But he is also a great presider over accidents, as Orson Welles once said great directors are. So he's open to the little forks and things that happen. They delight him. And that makes it thrilling, you know, to work with him. And I think I don't know. I think that picture everyone in it is so good. It would've been hard to be bad.
Interviewer: But it wasn't just that they were so good. It was also that then that all came together.
Cybill Shepherd: Yes.
Interviewer: And it's not because there's many examples of exactly the opposite, which I'm sure you know as well.
Cybill Shepherd: I mean, when I say that everybody was so good also with such a brilliant director. So we were all. And the chemistry was there. I don't I don't really think you can act chemistry. Maybe Meryl Streep can. I think chemistry is between actors. And then if you don't have it, it's mighty difficult to have it register on screen.
Interviewer: Well, and Peter, I think is.
Cybill Shepherd: Well, Peter's a master of picking up on that chemistry. And I learned that from him. So I knew when Bruce Willis came along that there was a lot of chemistry and he should be the guy playing the part in Moonlighting.
Interviewer: Did you pick him? Did you. Were you involved in? No. But I mean did they?
Cybill Shepherd: Oh, yeah. I mean, actually, he came in and I said, this is the guy. And the network said, no, he's he's a he's a character actor. He can't play lead. So we did a screen test and obviously he played lead.
Interviewer: Well talking about that and talking about that kind of interestingly, both when you look at sort of Jeff and even maybe in a little of context to Beau. But Jeff in some ways is a character actor who's a lead, which I think is one of the things that you're talking about when you say he doesn't overdo it. I think he and my take on him is they're watching him. And that's very interesting to watch these. You know, we watch these movies as they come out as the audience and then now doing this very concentrated, rescreening of things, that I've been doing in the past several weeks. You watch it in such a different way because you really start watching how he how's he doing. You know, and one of the things that I think he holds on to is keeping the character part of him quite alive, even in the most romantic circumstances. He doesn't seem to want to lose. What do you think of that?
Cybill Shepherd: Well, he didn't have to ask too much. Picture show and the scenes with me did he?
Interviewer: He didn't. Believe me.
Cybill Shepherd: Neither did I. We were kind of just being ourselves.
Interviewer: But it was not to be a dreamy guy that he was that he was portraying.
Cybill Shepherd: Oh, I know. What I want to go back to is the whole idea of Jeff being a character actor playing leads and the similarity in terms of Bruce Willis, in terms of character actor. But now he's playing the lead. I really don't have anything else to say. Just repeating it. Go ahead.
Interviewer: That little notion of him. Well, and then I think Peter said that I thought was very interesting is that he also likes to sort of he likes more the roles that don't really put him in that romantic leading role. Perhaps just too, because he's very devoted to his family. He's very you know, he'll and it's very tempting. All this stuff is very seductive, these parts, these situations of this. So those were the years when that was a different, a different thing for him. And it is is maturing roles in the way he's gone forward. He's taken on some of these roles. I mean, The Big Lebowski on if you look at the dude. On one hand, that's a character lead.
Cybill Shepherd: Definitely, my children, that's one their favorite movies.
Interviewer: Well, he's done that, too. He's transcended. He's transcended. Men love him. Women love him. All ages love him. And that's equally, I think, remarkable. You know, I think it's very interesting. I think to to to to have people in various generations know somebody is and be able to respond to it in other films. And I seem to find this all all across the board here with people we talked to people, everybody seems to know him. You know, it's. You know, also, I think a remarkable feat to have that kind of a swath of the audience.
Cybill Shepherd: Absolutely.
Interviewer: When you remember back on. I mean, I like to talk about Texasville a bit a little bit, because your character change is also rather remarkably. And I think becomes more like we sort of my my vision of you, which is off you go. And of course, you go see the world. And he doesn't. Not that he doesn't, but in some ways, the characters that he continues to play are that American characters who doesn't really go off. He's here. He's here with us. He's he's kind of in our. And Dwayne is that guy who becomes very successful within that, although he's maybe sitting on sort of a rocky moment there now. But he's the guy who kind of made the best and made the most out of where he was and didn't venture from.
Cybill Shepherd: Well. One of my favorite scenes in all of my films and television that I've done is the last scene that Jeff and I play in Texasville. It's a very moving scene. He it's the first time that my character can break down and express her grief over the loss of her child. And Jeff, his character. J.C. couldn't have done that without him. And we have that extraordinary moment at the end. It's one of my favorite moments I've ever played. And it was it was interesting. We didn't do very many takes. Matter of fact, I think we only did a couple in that way. And it was true, certainly a picture show. Peter never doesn't do extra takes. He doesn't have to, he cuts in his head, he cuts in the camera. I know that great scene with Cloris Leachman. She won the Oscar. He only did one take. And she wanted to do more. He said no. And she won the Oscar. That scene at the end of the film with Timothy Bottoms, where she throws the coffee pot.
Interviewer: Yeah, it's amazing. The other great one of those just as well on the side is in The Misfits when Montgomery Clift, who everyone had expected to be so difficult, difficult, difficult, but was actually pretty together in that film. He didn't. He was kind of not drinking and he came rather prepared. And John Houston had been sort of expecting that he would be very a lot of takes takes in the scene in the phone booth.
Cybill Shepherd: There's only one.
Interviewer: Talking to his mother after rodeo. And Houston said at the end of it, that's it. And Montgomery Clift looked at him and said no. And he said, that's it. You'll never do it better. And I think it's funny because you see, we're talking about this a little bit with Beau and Beau is remarking that Jeff seems to like to do a lot of takes and that may have evolved now.
Cybill Shepherd: Well, he like to do a lot of take, certainly by Texasville. Now, he's never done television that I know of. In television we don't have a luxury often doing a lot of takes. I mean, it's like get your lines right. You don't fall down, you know, cut print. It's a wonderful luxury to have an opportunity to do a lot of takes.
Interviewer: It's kind of an interesting thing to... the concept of do more takes help or do they hurt? Or do you get it? You just, you know. Are you wrong in just saying this is that we kind of let it be. You just can't know in the moment. The thing that I also think is great in his character, both in the young and old application of Dwayne, is the longingness that, you know, is in him that he simply cannot express, which is that last scene reminds me of that. But also even that sort of admission of you know I didn't get over J.C. yet. Even in Picture Show. It's still it's sort of so tamped down. You feel this great, great emotional man there that just restrains it. And it's and I think that also is maybe part of what I mean when I say that American type of character. And when you bring up Gary Cooper, it again, it's the same some of that same something that I guess we recognizes this sort of cultural type of of American.
Cybill Shepherd: With Jeff. I don't. I think it's a unique type. You know, I think, like I said before, the there wasn't anyone ever like him before and there never will be again. So it's just like there'll never be another John Wayne or Montgomery Clift. It's the same thing. He is so innately brings himself to it and his integrity. Crazy Heart was such an incredible film. I was just I tell you, when he won the Oscar, it was like, I had won it.
Interviewer: I think a lot of people in the room felt that way. Yeah, that whole room was on its feet in one second.
Cybill Shepherd: Well, I don't know that anybody else felt particularly the way I felt with Jeff, because we started out together as like we were playing teenagers. We were 20. We're the same age. And there's a really special feeling for someone that you kind of grew up you had this first experience with. We had no idea this film was going to be all the great films of all time, except that I did have a feeling once I started it that maybe this would be important. I know when I went back to modeling, they say, oh, I heard you did a film. Tell me who's in it. I said, Jeff Bridges, you know, Timothy Bottom, Cloris, Eileen and Ellen. And they went, oh, they look disappointed because none of them had ever heard of any of those actors. So, isn't that funny.
Interviewer: Well, that's very interesting too. Here you are. Still brand new and not having had any experience in this. How what kind of impact was that for you when you did realize and all of you realized and it is only grown, it's only found it more so prestige and more honor as it's gotten to be a great old classic. But there's a point at which everybody knows this is a great film and it's early. I mean, when you first all and the accolades and the award nominations for it were.
Cybill Shepherd: Well, I know that there was and there were several nude scenes that were written in the script. And when I first interviewed with Peter, he said, don't worry about that. If you don't want to do it, you don't have to. I also read with Jeff and Timothy Bottoms, and we had great chemistry together. When it came time for us to do the nude scenes, it was. I went to Eileen, Ellen and Cloris separate and said, if you were me with this director in this film, would you do the nude scenes? Would you trust the director? And they said absolutely. They said because I felt it was not a sensationalistic film, that it was that Peter at great integrity, that this would be a great movie. But I think for me, I grew up with I I was living with Peter and I grew up with Peter cutting The Last Picture Show every single I mean, he didn't have an editor. He was holding the film between his hands. And I was learning about montage and editing and how it what it meant to have three film, three frames at the beginning and cut out three at the end. And how that affected that film is a visual music. But I, I could see that this was an extraordinary movie. But of course, we opened the first New York Film Festival and I was there with Peter and the laughs and tears.It was it was I mean, we all knew it was good, but to have this kind of reaction and still to this day, people come up to me as one of the most common things they say is my first film, The Last Picture Show, you know, along with Moonlighting, Civil, Chances Are. But definitely Last Picture Show.
Interviewer: Just backing into and also of how the making of it and this not. You know, when they were when they were doesn't know when you step into these things, how they're really going to how they're going to affect people. I'd like to talk a little bit. This is a little bit off the subject. But I like to talk bit about your scenes with Ellen because I thought that Ellen was and her scenes really more with Timothy, I guess, than with Jeff. But he but she is so perfect. Does that mother and that woman at that time. And when you so, you know, it is almost like, you know, she becomes somebody everybody wanted to kind of grow up into.
Cybill Shepherd: Well, Ellen, in that in The Last Picture Show, all the women are of this age that may be a little younger than where I am right now. We're very scary to people. We're old enough, but we're still juicy. We're still sexual beings and people. I'm like in between the age, I'm going to get my great parts once I get old and dried up looking or something. But with The Last Picture Show, with three women of this age that were all still sexy and juicy, not just as mothers. The flirting between Eileen Brennan and Timothy Bottoms, you know, the great Ellen Burstyn with being the mother but still the lover, having her lover and then having her daughter, my character, be a lover with her lover. That was Peter did an amazing thing by putting back that almost eight minutes of footage back into those last director's cut and.
Interviewer: Which eight minutes because I just looked at it again.
Cybill Shepherd: Oh, we have to make sure you get the most recent criterion one. He adds, like so almost eight minutes. One scene is a scene where Jeff and Timothy and I are singing our high school song in a convertible driving along the street. And another scene as my character J.C. seduction scene on the pool table, which for the first time to me made the character make sense, because then you understand why she's distraught, so distraught when she comes back.
Interviewer: I did see it because that's . And it's funny because I hadn't remembered it. So now I know why. Not that I remembered it bit by bit, but I didn't remember that scene.
Cybill Shepherd: Who were we back then? You know, I look at I look at us so young and I almost don't know who. I don't know who I am. It's like it's a growing up and being famous for the slowing as of course Jeff has. You have this. You're dragging along all these parts from when you were so young. You. Nobody can fake your age. You're going to see all our work. You're going to see us grow up in front of the camera, see us start to make it because we're the same age. We both are 60 now. You have reached that point of your life where you really know that it's not going to last forever. Death is out there. You don't know when everything becomes more precious. That's why to see this kind of performance in Crazy Heart by Jeff is like this extraordinary gift to the world. And thank God everybody recognized it, you know? And, you know, he sings that song, The Weary Kind. And you were talking about Jeff in Texasville he's got that wariness and it boy, he doesn't know how to play that. And he's funny. That's very rare in an actor to be a brilliant, like, dramatic actor and to be very funny. Extremely rare
Interviewer: Well, Texasville character when I did that again, actually made me go, oh, my God, this is bad Blake. I mean, this was and this was 20 years, 20 years ahead, essentially.
Cybill Shepherd: Well, on some level, actors were all kind of even though were playing different characters. We're still there's some character or some persona within us that we're always carrying with us. And I think it endows us with the ability to not have to indicate and not work so hard to let the audience know we're working. And that's my favorite kind of acting, where you'll say about the actor. Wait a minute. Is he acting or is he just being himself? And to me, that sums up sums up a great actor, particularly Jeff Bridges, because you don't really see him indicating he disappears as if he is that character.
Interviewer: Just one more thing. That was also his second film. So on one hand, yes, I mean, God. And then you come back to him 20 years later in Texasville. My god. So all of these things are so also so right. And also so unformed, really beginning in the end, Peter though he's a great student that I know and a great student of cinema. He's still then comes 20 years later. And you do Texasville even all the more so. And with his knocks and disappointments and still successes in between all of that. Him too coming on, aging along you know, then we do all the stories of all of everybody.
Interviewer: Well, I think with Peter Bogdanovich, because of his study of film growing up, even though he was very young on Picture Show, he knew so much about films, he had experience all the great films, interviewed all the great directors. He he was. Yeah, it was his second film. But it's a masterpiece. So he he had he had just developed. I mean, Stella Adler was his mentor. And she was mine to a certain extent as well.
Interviewer: So you get all those good, you get all those good bones working for you all the time. And anything else you want to add? Any anecdote, any anything. Be wild.
Cybill Shepherd: Oh, I don't know. I mean, there's some part of me, that will always feel as if that I'll always be Jeff Bridges' first sweetheart, and that to some extent forgive me for sounding so pompous, but that we managed to achieve a kind of youthful immortality that will never fade.