Tag Archives: bruce willis

Cybill Shepherd: Taxi Driver Confessions

26 Jul


There is no denying Cybill Shepherd’s attractiveness. She is an absolutely beautiful blonde with a smoldering intelligence that makes her gaze unavoidable, especially to men.

October 1972:  Studio portrait of American model and actor Cybill Shepherd leaning forward while lying on her stomach with her hand to her face in a low-cut top, New York City.  (Photo by Gerald Israel/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

When she came onto the Hollywood scene in the early 1970’s that was basically all it took to at least get a shot in Hollywood. And Cybill took it.


Different generations will remember Cybill for different indelible roles she embodied.


Her first big blush with fame was as Jacy Farrow in Peter Bogdanovich’s LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971).


Jacy is a femme fatale of the highest order and Cybill portrayed her like an irresistible wrecking ball, both onscreen and on the set.


The comely actress not only had affairs with the director as well as her young co-star, Jeff Bridges – but almost everyone else associated with this classic movie.


She was accused of wrecking the director’s marriage. Her and Peter would go on to make two more movies together – both critical box office failures.



And it isn’t hard to believe why every man that came in her path would end up seduced by her.


Next up for Cybill was THE HEARTBREAK KID (1972) with Charles Grodin and directed by Elaine May.


The film was another critical hit and Cybill was on her way to becoming Hollywood’s next big “it” girl.


Of course, I’m part of the generation that remembers Cybill most for her role as Betsy opposite Robert DeNiro in Martin Scorsese’s TAXI DRIVER (1976).


I was too young to see the movie in theaters but over a decade later after it’s release I caught it on cable (as did an entire generation) and Cybill certainly made an impression as Travis Bickle’s obsession.


Cybill is amazing in this role and a critical part of the storyline. Travis’s obsession with her is what drives him to do more and more desperate acts to gain her favor.


Instead, it turns him into more of a psychopath – and this is what sets up one of the most amazing endings in modern film history.


Legend has it that Scorsese asked his casting agent for a “Cybill Shepherd” type. The young director had no idea that he would be able to get the real thing.



I’m a believer that if this role wasn’t as compelling as Cybill was able to make it, then the cognitive leap for DeNiro’s character to go full-on psycho at the end would not have been as believable.


But it was believable and TAXI DRIVER became a highly influential film for many screenwriters and filmmakers. Now, you would think that Cybill would have Hollywood by the tail after this movie and her previous hits but you would be wrong.


While a critical hit, Taxi Driver made relatively little money on its initial theatrical release. And two short years later in 1978, Cybill would leave Hollywood, returning to her hometown of Memphis, TN to do regional theater.


Cybill would return to Hollywood in 1983 just in time to land MOONLIGHTING after a couple successful turns in smaller films. This was back in the days when a film star who turned to TV was still a risky endeavor.


But the producers wanted Cybill so much that they allowed her final say on her male co-star. She ultimately decided on Bruce Willis because of their on-screen chemistry.


The chemistry was so good, in fact, that Cybill and Bruce almost ended up in bed together off the set. But instead, they refrained from their baser instincts in favor of keeping it smoldering on the small screen and the show was a huge, Emmy-winning hit for several years.


Cybill went on to have her own TV show as well as write a best-selling autobiography in which she spilled the beans on all the famous men she slept with on the way up, down, and back up the Hollywood ladder.


It’s refreshing to know such a successful actress can tell it like it is when such candid confessions could end a career. But then, Cybill was never one to go along with the pack.


I’ll always love Cybill Shepherd for her beauty and intelligence and the way she was able to live her life on her own terms in an industry that usually only affords such privilege on men.


Cybill beat the boys at their own game, however, and took her lumps to boot. It’s a great career and one that any actress working today should aspire to. With or without the Taxi Driver credentials, Cybill will always be one of my absolute biggest Hollywood crushes.


Emily Blunt: Delayed Crush

19 Aug


Every ardent lover of something – art, sports, literature, film – has his or her favorites. They form an immediate affinity that lasts from first sight to years, decades…forever. But then there are some artists, sports figures, novelists and actors or actresses who remain aloof, remote. They may be beautiful and talented but for some reason they never click with a particular audience member. This was my relationship with the beautiful and talented Emily Blunt…until the film LOOPER (2012).


I’d seen Emily several times before in movies like The Adjustment Bureau (2011) with Matt Damon, Sunshine Cleaning (2008) with Amy Adams and The Devil Wears Prada (2006). And each time I just didn’t get it. Her, I mean. What was the appeal? What was I missing that everyone else could see as plain as day? What was her appeal?


Then I saw Looper. By any reasonable estimation, Looper is a great Sci-Fi movie, flawed but with an amazing structure and narrative that demands repeated viewings to fully-appreciate. The first time I saw it, I was just trying to keep up. Until the character of Sara appeared on screen. I was blown away by the willful, strong and lonely single mother who lives in a farmhouse with her young son. I looked into Sara’s blue eyes (which the filmmaker wisely holds in close-up several times in slow-motion) and fell into a deep trance. Who was this amazing woman portraying such a strong yet vulnerable character? At first, I didn’t recognize the actress after going into the darkened movie theater and her glowing presence caught me completely off-guard.


Then I realized it was Emily Blunt, the actress I had heretofore never been able to form any kind of meaningful attachment to. The one actress that had gotten away suddenly became my biggest silver screen crush. She was so magnetic, so heartfelt and raw in her emotions that I could not believe it was the same young woman I had seen before, albeit in roles that left me wanting. Emily was the heart and soul of Looper, the same way every great actress, given the room and screen time to grow and embody a fully-rendered character does. I just fell for her the same way I had fallen for other actresses at first sight…a delayed crush that left me speechless and wanting to see her again as soon as humanly possible.


I’ve seen Emily since in Looper and am still swept up in how wonderful she is in that role of Sara. I see in her eyes the soul of a woman who fears she will lose everything if she doesn’t protect herself and her son from a stranger she is attracted to. And I remember what it felt like being the stranger attracted to such a powerful performance – one in which the actress had completely lost herself in only to realize her beauty and talent for the first time. That is lightning in a bottle when it happens and something that true film-lovers appreciate about their favorite actresses in the role that was made for them. That was me with Emily as Sara.


And now I know what everyone else was seeing in the beautiful Emily Blunt then I couldn’t. And now, like them – I’m a true believer.