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Inside Sam Shepard and Jessica Lange's 'Tumultuous' Relationship: 'An Incredible Match, but ... Not Without Fireworks'

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Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard had one of the most passionate relationships in Hollywood history – but it wasn’t always easy.

Shepard, who died of complications from ALS last Thursday at age 73, and Lange, 68, first met on the set of the film Frances and started dating in 1982. They went on to have two children – Hannah Jane and Samuel Walker, born in 1985 and 1987

Though their relationship lasted almost three decades, they were both often honest about the hardships they faced together. The actor and playwright opened up to The Guardian in 2010 about how they maintained their “tumultuous” relationship.

Paul Hawthorne/Getty

“I mean, we have long periods of relative calm. But then you know.” Shepard said. “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?”

Paul Hawthorne/Getty
Lange and Shepard with their kids Hannah and Sam (right) and Lange’s daughter Shura (left) and her husband

Lange’s rep confirmed to PEOPLE in late 2011 that the two had split almost two years prior, with a source telling PEOPLE at the time they were “pursuing independent lives.”

The actress recently appeared on the cover of AARP The Magazine and reminisced about her relationship with Shepard, alluding to their frequent troubles.

“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 said. 

Paramount/Getty
In 1984’s Country
The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty
Stepping out in 1990

Still, Shepard held Lange in the highest regard, telling The Guardian she’s the most honest person he’d ever met.

“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.”