The Chemistry on Moonlighting:
Glenn Caron's Commentary
Executive Producer & Creator of "Moonlighting" Glenn Gordon Caron has some of the most valuable insights into his two actors and their very famous (or infamous at times) chemistry. He was there at the very beginning--watching the two interact from the very first meeting, overseeing much of the filming, and spending a great deal of time with the two of them. Because Caron was so hands-on with nearly every aspect of the show, no one could possibly know more about the chemistry between Cybill and Bruce/Maddie and David than he does. Here is a representative sample of what he has said about it.
In the March 27, 1986 Rolling Stone cover story on Bruce Willis, Caron offered the following concerning Willis's audition: "He didn't give the performance that you see on television. He gave an aggressive not terribly funny performance. But it was clear he understood the material. And the force of his personality, for me anyway, was something to behold. Even as the network executives kept saying, 'Well, he doesn't look like a series lead,' you'd be walking down the aisle with him and all the secretaries would be abuzz. We had cast Cybill very early on, and it took all of about a minute and a half to realize we were looking at going out and finding somebody -- a real man, not a boy -- who could hold his own with her and at the same time was comedic and made sense in a couple situation with her. So we went over to the network and pleaded to do a full-blown screen test with Cybill. I still remember the first moment they laid eyes on each other. It was...palpable."
In the October 9, 1986 Rolling Stone cover story on Cybill Shepherd, Caron offered the following concerning his casting of Cybill and his surprise that a day after she read the script, she asked for a meeting: "I saw her -- and my chin hit the table and my tongue hit the floor. It really killed whatever negotiating strength I had. She understood that America thought of her as a slightly spoiled, bratty, uppity, cold bitch goddess, and that the script sort of took that and pricked it. She seemed very much to relish the idea of playing to that. There was some concern her coldness would be a problem on television. And I said, 'It is precisely that perception of coldness that works in our favor." Caron later in the interview explains that Cybill's sexuality generally is the "fount of all titillation" and that the show is actually The Taming of the Shrew: "We're doing a show about the battle of the sexes, so we'd be hard pressed not to give the character certain sexual dynamics. I might say we have figured out what David's sexuality is about, and we're not above putting it up there on display." He continues, "We've done twenty-seven hours of this thing. When it really cooks -- this is going to sound pretentious -- it's like a band doing riffs. Cybill's always saying she reads my mind, and I kind of read hers, and we both read Bruce's, and he reads us. It's very much like musicians passing a riff around."
Speaking in 1999:
Caron said chemistry between the leading characters is more than good writing, it's a spark between the actors, such as Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis. "People always ask me, 'Did Bruce and Cybill really get along?' The truth is, it was like a marriage. There were times they didn't get along. There were times when Cybill didn't get along with me. But there was a lot of passion and it was very felt. Writing exists in a vacuum until it's performed. And not everyone can perform. Every day we did 'Moonlighting,' I kissed the ground that we happened to get these two people at this particular moment to do this particular piece of text."
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