Cybill Shepherd, guest star on The L Word
I initially took the part on The L Word at the suggestion of my daughter Clementine. She said, "I think you should do this. It's important"—which is remarkable, because it's pretty embarrassing to a child to watch her mother having sex onscreen. But all my kids were supportive, so I watched a few episodes, thought the show was great, and signed on.
The L Word has a lot of sex. A lot of women having sex. With a lot of other women. (I love this. I think we need to see more beautiful women having sex!) So when I heard I was going to play Phyllis Kroll—who's been married for 25 years, has two kids, and has her first lesbian experience in her 50s—I knew what I was in for.
Getting naked on camera is deeply uncomfortable for me. The only nude scene I ever did was in my very first film, with Jeff Bridges in The Last Picture Show, and it was mortifying. I wasn't going to do a nude scene here, though—just something sensual and very, very sexy. Still, after reading the script, I was nervous. But I once got some great acting advice: If you play what you haven't lived, it will help you expand as a human being. So I sat down with the producer, the director, and Leisha Hailey, my character's love interest, and we blocked it out. I felt a tremendous chemistry with Leisha. You have to have chemistry—you can't act that. You have to be a bit turned on. And I was! I was on the set with all these beautiful women walking around. And as we rehearsed, I began to feel very comfortable. I didn't compare it to being with a man. I just didn't go there. I was focused on my character's sexual awakening. Not my own.