Shortly before news surfaced that Sam Shepard died of complications from ALS, his former partner of nearly three decades, Jessica Lange, spoke about the actor and playwright in a revealing new interview.
Lange and Shepard ― who never married but were together from 1982 to 2009 ― first met on the set of the film “Frances” and became one of the most beloved Hollywood couples. Over the course of their romance, they had two children together, Hannah Jane and Samuel Walker.
“I wouldn’t call Sammy easygoing and funny, but everybody has their dark side, and he always does it with a sense of humor,” Lange told AARP magazine in an article published Monday.
Lange also emphasized the importance of family, describing the ways being a mother (and a grandmother) have changed her perspective on life.
“Having children gives you a perspective you didn’t have before. You are no longer the center of the universe,” she said. “It opened my heart, made me a different person. Every move you make is with someone else in mind. I loved being a mother more than anything else in the world, and being a grandmother is even more fun.”
Despite their public profiles, both actors kept the details of their private life under wraps for most of their career, save for an interview here and there. In 2010, however, Shepard did open up about his “tumultuous” relationship with Lange over the years.
“I mean, we have long periods of relative calm. But then you know,” Shepard told The Guardian. “We’re definitely an incredible match. But, you know, not without fireworks … although at this point, you know, she’s the only woman I could live with. Who could live with me! What other woman would put up with me?”
Differences aside, Shepard sang Lange’s praises in the same interview, describing her only in the fondest of terms.
“I’ve never known her, ever, to lie about anything. And I couldn’t say that about … about myself. About anybody. Men lie all the time,” he said. “Whereas Jessica has this absolute honesty. I think it’s a direct quality of the Midwest, of that background that she’s from.”
“I’d never met anybody like her,” he continued. “She was astounding. One of the great things about her, aside from her natural beauty, which was remarkable, was her humbleness.”
Shepard’s spokesman confirmed his death on Monday, saying the cause was complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.