Why Cybill Shepherd Hated Bruce Willis

Elif Ozden

If the ’80s television series ‘Moonlighting’ was a lightning rod for sparks, Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis were at the core of the tempest.

Their on-screen chemistry as the private detective duo Maddie Hayes and David Addison fueled the TV drama. But behind the scenes, their story was not that of a typical fairy-tale romance but rather one marked by a blend of attraction and rivalry.

Did Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis Date?


Despite their apparent chemistry, Shepherd and Willis never dated. This fact might surprise many, considering the off-screen attraction between them. According to Shepherd, there was a considerable emotional pull, a mutual attraction that could potentially have led to something more. She reflected in an interview with Extra:

“I just have to say one thing about Bruce. No one else was ever considered for the part when he walked into the room. My temperature went up 10 degrees. That meant two things to me: one, I was very attracted to him, and two, I would never act on it ’cause we were both very attracted to each other.”

Still, she added:

“I will always love Bruce.”


You may wonder if their decision not to pursue a romantic relationship off-screen was a blessing in disguise. In fact, they once met at Shepherd’s place and shared a kiss outside their characters. As the actress put it:

“It wasn’t long before we were passionately sucking face. [However,] we never did finish what we started.”

On the set of ‘Moonlighting,’ Shepherd and Willis weren’t just co-stars but partners in a wild rollercoaster ride of emotion. Their relationship was as intense as the characters they played on the screen. However, this high-voltage emotional charge didn’t necessarily lead to a romantic liaison — instead, it paved the way for a powerful connection.

What Caused Shepherd to Hate Willis?


Beneath the pair’s chemistry, there existed a highly charged environment surrounded by bouts of conflict that ultimately shaped their relationship dynamic. Shepherd herself explained this complex relationship in a previous interview, stating:

“Oh yes, we had fights all the time. And that was part of the preparation was that working up to it, you know, so it was real.”

The conflict and intensity between them weren’t mere acting tools but stemmed from a deep emotional bond. On the one hand, it produced on-screen chemistry; on the other hand, it resulted in high tension off-screen. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, she went on to reveal:

“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.”


There’s an old saying that the line between love and hate is a thin one, and it seems that Shepherd and Willis walked that line very closely. Shepherd’s statement from the Comedy Central roast of Willis in 2018 seems to encapsulate their relationship perfectly:

“Our characters on ‘Moonlighting weren’t much of a stretch. I played a former model, which I was. And he played an a**hole, 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.”

Back in 2012, Willis also looked back on the time he filmed ‘Moonlighting.’ Although he didn’t mention Shepherd in his statement, the actor admitted he had fond memories of the film:

“There are all of those memories I have about the fun and frantic pace we were working at to get ten pages every day out of seven shooting days. That’s one thing. The other thing is it was a huge quantum leap for me. … A very exciting time — just to be able to offer that kind of work and then get a job where you do it for five years. And you’re just racing through it. And it’s a huge catalog of stories now.”


Yet, the question remains — did Cybill Shepherd really ‘hate’ Bruce Willis? Apparently, when applied to the relationship between Shepherd and Willis, the term ‘hate’ carries a much deeper significance. But perhaps it is this very volatility that fueled the pair’s performances and the show’s success.

Below, you can watch Comedy Central’s Roast of Willis episode, where Shepherd joked about her relationship with the actor.

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