Though she thought the script for “Do You Believe?” was very moving, actress Cybill Shepherd was a little confused when her manager first contacted her about the faith-based project.
“I thought my manager was saying ‘face-based.’ But I had to do it: it was a part I have never played. I gave myself a chance as an actor to play that arc with wonderful actors and just a great script,” Shepherd said during a roundtable interview. “It was very moving. I didn’t feel it was proselytizing at all. I feel the message it is sending is very solid.”
“Do You Believe?” looks at the current state of faith through a handful of characters. Shepherd said her character, Teri, is stuck up in her grief over losing her daughter.
“She doesn’t believe in God. And it kind of reminds me of my mother. When her mother died, my mother said ‘I don’t believe in God. If there was a God, He wouldn’t have taken my mother then,’” the actress explained. “My mother kept saying ‘You’ve got to come see your grandmother.’ I felt that my grandmother almost was gone.”
As it turns out, Shepherd’s grandmother wasn’t gone, so she went to Memphis to see her: “And she didn’t seem to hear me. But she died a week later. It’s funny how these things work out where you go ‘Wait a minute. Go see your grandma.’”
When her own mother died, the actress continued, she had hospice care and the death she wanted: “She was comfortable. The hospice nurse was the one who called me. Well, my brother called me and said ‘Now come home because your mother will recognize you.’ That’s when I left the Broadway play ‘The Best Man.’”
There were also times that Shepherd didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to someone important. This came up when talking about one of her favorite films: Emile Ardolino’s “Chances Are.”
“That was one of my most wonderful experience with a director. And then I called him, and I didn’t get a call back. It turned out he died of AIDS. He was that generation where you just died. They hadn’t figured out how to keep people alive,” she said.
In “Do You Believe?”, Shepherd’s character is married to J.D., played by Lee Majors. J.D.’s faith is much stronger than his spouse’s. “Lee Majors is a consummate professional. We had a way of talking about the scenes: we didn’t talk about them. We just figured where we are together. It didn’t take a lot of talk. It was a very wonderful experience working with him,” she said.
The climactic scene of the film involves most of the cast on top of a bridge. Once again, Shepherd was grateful for her steadfast co-star.
“It was very dangerous what we were doing, out on a bridge in the freezing rain. And dealing with that car on that thing. I didn’t know what a gimbal was. Thank God for Lee Majors because he’s been in a bunch of them. He was very calm,” she said.
“Do You Believe?” begins its theatrical run on Friday, March 20.