Hard to believe, but Cybill Shepherd has been famous for over four decades. Now 62, she was just 18 when she won the “Model of the Year” contest, and her blond-haired, blue-eyed all-American visage became a magazine cover mainstay. Since then, she has motored through the peaks and valleys of Hollywood’s unpredictable career track. At times, her life seemed blessed: She followed up her film debut in “The Last Picture Show” (shot when she was just 20) with “The Heartbreak Kid,” both critically-acclaimed classics. But bombs like “Daisy Miller” and “At Long Last Love” got her kicked to the curb and she often retreated to her hometown of Memphis during the bad times. (She still splits her time between homes in Los Angeles and Memphis.) “Moonlighting,” of course, put her back on top in 1985, and she’s worked steadily since. Currently, she’s costarring on Lifetime’s “The Client List” as the old-fashioned, chardonnay-drinking, big-haired Texan mother of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character, a newly-single parent who’s working in a massage parlor to support her kids. We caught up with the famously outspoken actress and activist during a whirlwind trip to New York.
More: Your new series, The Client List, is officially a ratings smash. How does that make you feel?
CS: Fantastic! I love going to work there. It’s a wonderful place to be—everyone is so great and so professional. And Jennifer [Love Hewitt] is the best. I just love her.
More: You play her mother, an over-bearing lady who isn’t always very supportive, especially given that her son-in-law has deserted his family. She’s been known to start sentences with the phrase “If God had meant for a woman to be alone…” Given your personal views, I just wonder how hard it is to say things like that?
CS: (Laughs) Well, it is a character, it’s not me! Lynette feels that way, not me. So I’m fine with that.
More: You’re known for being vocal about politics and social change, and The Client List is about a massage parlor where sexual acts are also on the menu. So I’m wondering, especially in light of the Secret Service prostitution scandal, whether you favor legalizing prostitution?
CS: It’s dangerous and it’s illegal, and it’s a moral dilemma. As to whether prostitution should be legalized, that’s something we need to talk about a lot more. That’s not something you do overnight. Whatever is done, the people involved as sex workers need protection. So whatever laws we need to protect them, to keep them safe? Those should be in place.
More: Do any of your three children ever wish Mom would pipe down? Do you ever embarrass them?
CS: Well I don’t embarrass them as much as I used to. As the kids get older, they are maturing and understanding that I can be pretty outrageous and speak my mind, and they respect that a lot. I marched in Washington with [my daughter] Ariel in the last big pro-choice march and when I marched in Washington for gay and lesbian rights, [my daughter] Clementine had very much wanted to come, but she got strep throat so I didn’t let her. Embarrasing your children in a nice way is okay, but one thing I would not embarrass my children about is if they were gay or lesbian, or transgender. You wouldn’t want to denigrate a child’s spirit. Our children are like sponges and they pick up on the parents and if there’s hate involved where somebody thinks just because someone is gay or lesbian or just because they want to get married… Marriage equality —I can’t believe we’re still talking about it. This is a nonissue.