Cybill Shepherd Talks On-Set Chemistry With Bruce Willis and Nancy Brophy Transformation (Exclusive)

Cybill Shepherd talks to ET about 'Moonlighting' and working with Steve Guttenberg on 'How to Murder Your Husband.'

Cybill Shepherd and Steve Guttenberg, two of the screen's biggest icons, are coming together to star in Lifetime's latest "Ripped From the Headlines" movie, How to Murder Your Husband: The Nancy Brophy Story. Based on the fascinating true story about a romance novelist who authored an essay about killing one's spouse and was later charged with second-degree murder in her own husband's death, Shepherd portrays the convicted Nancy Crampton-Brophy while Guttenberg co-stars as the ill-fated Daniel. 

The film marks Shepherd's first major TV role since starring in 2012's The Client List and making one-episode guest appearances on various series since, while Guttenberg has had recent recurring roles on HBO's Ballers and The Goldbergs on ABC. Ahead of the true-crime film's premiere on Jan. 14, the two stars sat down with ET's Matt Cohen to reflect on some of their most notable, earlier work and coming together for Nancy Brophy's story. 

For Shepherd, that meant looking back on the memorable ABC comedy Moonlighting, which saw her and co-star Bruce Willis playing private detectives for five seasons from 1985 to 1989. "He walked in the room [and] my temperature went up 15 degrees. So, we had the chemistry," the 72-year-old actress said, before revealing that "we came close, but we did not act on it." 

"So, that was one of the secrets to Moonlighting," she said, referring to its sexual tension. Of course, they "finally had the scene where the two characters have sex," she continued, recalling how the director of photography employed a trick that kept them both looking young, fresh and helped their faces not droop in the shot. "[We] had to stand up and put the mattress [vertical], so we were standing up supposedly having sex in bed."  

Guttenberg, meanwhile, shared the screen with two very different, but memorable co-stars: the Olsen twins. He appeared alongside Mary-Kate and Ashley in the 1995 film It Takes Two. "I love them," he said before ET asked if he had a wedding message for Ashley, who married artist Louis Eisner at the end of last year. 

"Ashley, congratulations. I remember when you and your sister came to my house for a pool party right after we shot It Takes Two. And you kids were so cute, and lovely and we used to have races on the set… We used to have races for a quarter. And I actually didn't let you win half the time," the 64-year-old actor offered. "But I want to share congratulations on your marriage. You both have grown up to be such lovely young women. So successful and I send you my love."

Now, several decades later, both stars are working together after brief hiatuses of their own -- and relishing in the challenge of taking on this unbelievably real story about a marriage gone wrong.

"We both did a lot of research. We read a lot of articles. We saw a lot of video," Guttenberg said of the two getting into character for the true-crime project. "And what's great about playing people that are real and true, is that you get a sense of their cadence, their walk, how they move with their attitude. So, I think sometimes playing someone who was alive or is alive is a little easier. It can be a little bit of an imitation and it gives you a little bit of a leg up."


"Taking on the idea of murdering the person you love most in your life and it'd be allegedly based on a true story was one of the most difficult things I've ever taken on," Shepherd shared. "But again, everything that was done to help me through -- the direction, the writing, the costume, the wig, the gray wig -- I began to see myself as that murderer. And once I found that, then it was a different person than me."

It was also a relief being able to take off that wig and that costume -- and return to being Shepherd after stepping into Brophy's world for so long.

"It's a relief," she said before praising everyone she worked with on the project. "I'm very grateful that I had this chance to work with such a wonderful actor and to work with great directors who wrote the script. And everybody in the crew. I've always felt every time you do everything, you're every person that works on the crew. We're all equal. We're all gonna be there for each other." 

In the end, returning to the screen was something to be cherished by both of them. "For me to come back and work with Cybill was a dream," Guttenberg said. "You know, I'm the second lead and it's on her. And Cybill did an incredible job. And I was able to support her… and it was really a wonderful experience for me to come back and start working again." 

Shepherd then added, "What a great one to come out of the [gate] after three years." 

How to Murder Your Husband: The Nancy Brophy Story premieres Saturday, Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.