Moonlighting With

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The Chemistry on "Moonlighting"
As explained by Bruce Willis in various interviews

Bruce Willis & Cybill Shepherd

Legendary acting teacher Stella Adler instructed her students in the importance of truth and honesty in acting: "The actor knows how easy it it to lie, to fake. What he must do is surround himself with things that are true. As long as he can focus on those, he won't be tempted to lie." This makes complete sense to me because I have always felt that the best acting is actually NOT ACTING but BEING and therefore smart and talented actors rely on personal actual experience and real actions to advantage their performance. Ergo, it follows that the best screen chemistry is that which is honest--that which is real and true.

Bruce Willis admitted early on that he and his leading lady on "Moonlighting" hit it off very well, and that the chemistry that came across on the screen was a by-product of just "doing what we do." Later in his career, he tossed out in an interview that the personal attraction between him and Cybill was all acted. But those of us who had been watching from the beginning had doubts about this and remember distinctly what he had said earlier. For whatever reason, one that I will not speculate on, Bruce must have felt at that time that he needed to distance himself from his experience on the show and attempted to modify the record. (Given all the tabloid attention and bad press he and Cybill had attracted during that time, who could blame him.)

Here are excerpts from selected interviews with Bruce Willis from his "Moonlighting" years wherein he discusses the couple chemistry on the show:

Click for video clipFrom an interview with Bruce done fairly early on, this clip aired on "Evening Magazine" in the fall of 1986. Click icon to play video clip. (Requires RealOne player.) When talking about the cat and mouse game played by David and Maddie, Bruce tells us, "Challenges excite David Addison. It's no fun when you win easily..."

Click for video clip"Late Night with David Letterman," December 1985--Bruce's very first appearance on Letterman. Click icon to play video clip.(Requires RealOne player.) When Letterman points out that Bruce & Cybill have really good chemistry on the show, Bruce quips, "Well, I have a chemistry set right there on the show..."

Click for video clip "Good Morning America," February 3, 1987--Bruce and Cybill face Joan Lunden and all the rumors about them not getting along. Click icon to play video clip.(Requires RealOne player.) Most memorable quote, Bruce tells Joan, "I think in one form or another this show is going to be around a long time, long after we've stopped doing it. And I would always like to think that no matter when I look at this work, we can be proud of what we did during this time right now."

Cybill & Bruce:  Moonlighting Magic From Cybill & Bruce: Moonlighting Magic by Barbara Siegel and Scott Siegel, 1987: John J. O'Connor of The New York Times wrote "In response, the actor is not your average leading-man type. He could easily be mistaken for the quiet guy down the street. But confronted with Miss Shepherd's Maddie, a flamboyantly insinuating creature, Mr. Willis becomes almost debonair as, the battle of the sexes raging, he appears to be constantly bemused, complete with twinkling eyes. Miss Shepherd gets most of the flashy turns but without Mr. Willis, there would be no show." Mr. O'Connor is right except in one important respect: it's really Bruce who gets the "flashy turns." Bruce himself put it best when he said, "She is playing a straight man, and it can be a very thankless role. It's hard to do it well, and I think she is doing great work in this thing. Some people say, 'The chemistry between you two is what really makes the show.' But you can't play chemistry. You can't say, 'Okay, Cybill, now we're going to play chemistry.' I do what I do and she does what she does, and what comes as a product of that is what makes the show work, I think."

Other places on this site you can hear Bruce comment on the sexual chemistry between him and his co-star:

Bruce Willis with his 1987 Emmy for Best Performance
by an Actor in a Leading Role on a Drama Series

Bruce Willis holding his Emmy for 1987 Best Dramatic Actor in a Leading Role

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