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Bruce Willis

Walter Bruce Willis (March 19, 1955) is an American actor and singer-songwriter. He came to fame in the late 1980s and has since retained a career as both a Hollywood leading man and a supporting actor, in particular for his role as John McClane in the Die Hard series. Willis was married to actress Demi Moore and they had three daughters before their divorce in 2000 after thirteen years of marriage. Willis has released several albums and has appeared in several television shows. He has also starred in over sixty films, including Pulp Fiction, Sin City, Die Hard, Unbreakable, Armageddon and The Sixth Sense

Motion pictures featuring Willis have grossed US$2.55 to US$3.04 billion at North American box offices, making him the seventh highest-grossing actor in a leading role, and eighth highest including supporting roles. He is a two-time Emmy Award-winning, Golden Globe Award-winning, and four-time Saturn Award-nominated actor and has publicly shown his support for the United States armed forces.

Biography

Early life

Willis was born in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany, the son of a Kassel-born German mother, Marlene, who worked in a bank, and David Willis, an American soldier. Willis was the oldest of four children (his siblings are Florence, David, and Robert). After being discharged from the military in 1957, Willis' father took his family back to Penns Grove, New Jersey, where he worked as a welder and factory worker. His parents separated in 1972 while Willis was in his teens. He was always an outgoing youngster, although he grew up with a stutter. Willis attended Penns Grove High School in his hometown. Finding it easy to express himself on stage and losing his stutter in the process, Willis began performing on stage and his high school activities were marked by such things as the drama club and school council president.

After high school, Willis took a job as a security guard and he also transported work crews at the DuPont Chambers Works factory in Deepwater, New Jersey. He quit after a colleague was killed on the job, and became a regular at several bars. Willis learned to play the harmonica and joined an R&B band called Loose Goose. After a stint as a private investigator (a role he would play in the television series Moonlighting as well as in the 1991 film, The Last Boy Scout), Willis returned to acting. He enrolled in the drama program at Montclair State University, where he was cast in the class production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Willis left school in his junior year and moved to New York City.

Willis returned to the bar scene, only this time for a part-time job. After countless auditions, Willis made his theater debut in the off-Broadway production of Heaven and Earth. He gained more experience and exposure in Fool for Love, an appearance on television's Miami Vice, and in a Levi's commercial.

Career

Willis left New York City and headed to California to audition for several television shows. He auditioned for the TV series Moonlighting (1985–89), while competing against 3,000 other actors for the position and was selected to play David Addison Jr. The starring role helped to establish him as a comedic actor, with the show lasting five seasons. During the height of the show's success, beverage maker Seagram hired Willis as the pitchman for their Golden Wine Cooler products. The memorable ad campaign paid the rising star between five and seven million dollars over two years. In spite of that, Willis chose not renew his contract with the company when he decided to stop drinking alcohol in 1988. One of his first major film roles was in the 1987 Blake Edwards film Blind Date alongside Kim Basinger and John Laroquette. However, it was his then-unexpected turn in the film Die Hard that catapulted him to fame. He performed most of his own stunts in the film, and the film grossed US$138,708,852 worldwide. Due to its box office success, the film would eventually tender three sequels, with the most recent entry, Live Free or Die Hard, released in June 2007. Following his success with Die Hard, he had a supporting role in the drama In Country as Vietnam veteran Emmett Smith, for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination for "Best Performance by an Actor in Supporting Role in a Motion Picture". He also provided his voice for a talking baby in Look Who's Talking and its sequel.

In the late-1980s, Willis enjoyed moderate success as a recording artist, recording an album of pop-blues entitled The Return of Bruno, which included the hit single "Respect Yourself", promoted by a Spinal Tap-like rockumentary parody featuring scenes of him performing at famous events including Woodstock. Follow-up recordings were not as successful, though Willis has returned to the recording studio several times. In the early 1990s, Willis' career suffered a moderate slump starring in flops such as The Bonfire of the Vanities, Striking Distance and a film he co-wrote entitled Hudson Hawk, among others. He starred in a leading role in the highly sexualized thriller Color of Night (1994), which was very poorly received by critics but has become popular on video. However, in 1994 he had a supporting role in Quentin Tarantino's acclaimed Pulp Fiction, which gave a new boost to his career. In 1996, he was the executive producer of the cartoon Bruno the Kid which featured a CGI representation of himself. He went on to play the lead roles in Twelve Monkeys and The Fifth Element. However, by the end of the 1990s, his career had fallen into another slump with critically panned films like The Jackal, Mercury Rising, and Breakfast of Champions, saved only by the success of the Michael Bay-directed Armageddon which was the highest grossing film of 1998 worldwide. The same year his voice and likeness were featured in the PlayStation video game Apocalypse.

In 1999, Willis then went on to the starring role in M. Night Shyamalan's film, The Sixth Sense. The film was both a commercial and critical success and helped to increase interest in his acting career. He once had to appear in the sitcom Friends without pay, because he lost a bet to Matthew Perry, his co-star in the comedy The Whole Nine Yards and its sequel The Whole Ten Yards. He won a 2000 Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his work on Friends (in which he played the father of Ross Geller's much-younger girlfriend). He was also nominated for a 2001 American Comedy Award (in the Funniest Male Guest Appearance in a TV Series category) for his work on Friends. Willis was originally cast as Terry Benedict in Ocean's Eleven (2001) but dropped out to work on recording an album. In Ocean's Twelve (2004), he makes a cameo appearance as himself. He recently appeared in the Planet Terror half of the double feature Grindhouse as the villain, a mutant soldier. This marks Willis' second collaboration with director Robert Rodriguez, following Sin City.

Willis has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman several times throughout his career. He filled in for an ill David Letterman on his show February 26, 2003, when he was supposed to be a guest. He interviewed Dan Rather in what he would later call "the most serious conversation of my entire life". On many of his appearances on the show, Willis stages elaborate jokes, such as wearing a day-glo orange suit in honor of the Central Park gates, having one side of his face made up with simulated buckshot wounds after the Harry Whittington shooting, or trying to break a record (parody of David Blaine) of staying underwater for only 20 seconds. On April 12, 2007, he appeared again, this time wearing a Sanjaya Malakar wig. His most recent appearance was on June 25, 2007 when he appeared wearing a mini-turbine strapped to his head to accompany a joke about his own fictional documentary entitled An Unappealing Hunch (a wordplay of An Inconvenient Truth). Willis also appeared on Japanese Subaru Legacy television commercials, optimizing the car for sale, with the backing music of Jade from Sweetbox, "Addicted" and "Hate Without Frontiers". Tying in with this, Subaru did a limited run of Legacys, badged "Subaru Legacy Touring Bruce", in honor of Willis. Willis has appeared in four movies with Samuel L. Jackson (National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1, Pulp Fiction, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and Unbreakable) and both actors were slated to work together in Black Water Transit before dropping out. Willis also worked alongside his eldest daughter, Rumer, in the 2005 film Hostage. In 2007, he appeared in the thriller Perfect Stranger, opposite Halle Berry, the crime/drama film Alpha Dog, opposite Sharon Stone, and marked his return to the role of John McClane in Live Free or Die Hard.

Willis appeared on the 2008 Blues Traveler album North Hollywood Shootout, giving a spoken word performance over an instrumental blues-rock jam on the track "Free Willis (Ruminations from Behind Uncle Bob's Machine Shop)".

Upcoming films

Willis' future projects include three other films that will debut between 2008 and 2009. Willis will join the Assassination of a High School President, which is a 2008 comedy where he will be a Catholic school principal and his real-life eldest daughter, Rumer, will star as a student investigating missing SAT tests. His two 2009 films will include the drama Morgan's Summit, where he will depict a late night radio host who promotes kindness, but changes his demeanor after a brutal crime causes him to seek revenge and The Last Full Measure, a drama film based on a true story about a Vietnam War veteran. He has also signed on to play Kane in a film adaptation of the game Kane & Lynch: Dead Men.

Willis was slated to play U.S. Army general William R. Peers in director Oliver Stone's Pinkville, a drama about the investigation of the 1968 My Lai massacre. However, due to the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike, the film was cancelled and Willis instead joined the film, The Surrogates, which is based on the comic books of the same name.

Empire.com states that it is possible that in the near future, Bruce may direct a fifth installment of the Die Hard series. The last film of the series was released last summer and had great success in its box office performance.

Personal life

At the premiere for the film Stakeout, Willis met actress Demi Moore who was dating actor Emilio Estevez at the time. Willis married Moore on November 21, 1987 and had three daughters (Rumer Glenn Willis (born 1988), Scout LaRue Willis (1991) and Tallulah Belle Willis (1994)) before the couple divorced on October 18, 2000. The couple gave no public reason for their breakup. Willis reacting on his divorce stated "I felt I had failed as a father and a husband by not being able to make it work" and credited actor Will Smith for helping him get through the divorce. Willis and Moore currently share custody of the three daughters they had during their thirteen-year union. Since their breakup, rumors persisted that the couple planned to re-marry, but Moore has since married the younger actor Ashton Kutcher. Willis has maintained a close relationship with both Moore and Kutcher, even attending their wedding. Since his divorce he has dated models Maria Bravo Rosado and Emily Sandberg and also was engaged to Brooke Burns, until they broke up in 2004 after dating for ten months. In 2007, he was spotted dating Playboy Playmates Tamara Witmer and Karen McDougal on different occasions. He is currently dating girlfriend Emma Heming. Willis has expressed interest in getting married again and having more children.

Bruce Willis was, at one point, Lutheran (specifically Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod); but no longer practices, based on a statement he made in the July 1998 issue of George magazine:

In early 2006, Willis, who usually lives in Los Angeles, moved into an apartment located in the Trump Tower in New York City. Willis also has a home in Malibu, California, a ranch in Montana, a beach home on Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos, and multiple properties in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Willis owns his own motion picture production company called Cheyenne Enterprises which he started with his business parter Arnold Rifkin in 2000. He also owns several small businesses in Hailey, Idaho including The Mint Bar and The Liberty Theater and is a co-founder of Planet Hollywood along with actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. His dog, a Yorkshire Terrier is named Wolf Fishbein ("Wolfie") after a character in the Woody Allen movie Deconstructing Harry.

Willis, an avid New Jersey Nets fan, made controversial comments on April 29, 2007 during a live broadcast of a Nets home playoff game vs. the Toronto Raptors on TSN by saying a catch phrase from his Die Hard films, "Yipee-ki-aye-ay motherfucker", at the end of the interview. Reacting to the backlash, he later blamed his actions on jet lag, stating: "Sometimes I overestimate my ability to function under duress with less than enough sleep".

Prior to the the online chats listed below @ Ain't it cool news Willis operated his own website www.brucewillis.com (now defunct). He would chat with fans on a daily basis. His screen name was KingB. Many of the people he interacted with were invited to a mass 50th birthday celebration in Vegas. Archived versions of many of the chats and comments are available through the way back machine.

On May 5, 2007, someone using the screen name "Walter_B" started posting detailed responses onto Ain't it Cool News, where people were discussing the fact that Live Free or Die Hard received a PG-13 rating, instead of an R rating like the earlier three Die hard films. The responses included detailed information on Live Free or Die Hard, which was yet to be released; the theme of the Die Hard film series, direct criticisms of other movie crews and casts, and many movie trivia answers. "Walter_B" was Bruce Willis himself, directly posting his opinions. Many people were skeptical that "Walter_B" was indeed Willis, but on May 9, Willis revealed his identity on a video chat session (using iChat).

Willis is an avid fight fan and often attends boxing matches. He has attended both the Floyd Mayweather, Jr. v Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe v Bernard Hopkins fights, which have come to be known as the 'British Invasion' fights, after the popularity of the 'British Invasion' bands of the 1960s to the late 1970s in America.

Having begun to suffer from Male Pattern Baldness at a relatively young age (his receding hairline is visibly starting by Die Hard), Willis chose to shave his head once the loss was too severe to stylistically hide. However, he has worn a hairpiece or a toupee for several of his roles - but only when the character is known to have hair (such as in Sin City). He is one of the very few actors in Hollywood who has not pursued hair replacement in his personal life, and this has endeared him to the millions of men who themselves suffer from hair loss.

Willis is close friends with Matthew Perry.

Political views

In 2007, Willis stated he was not in favor of war in Iraq, but instead liked, “to support the young men and women who are over there participating in the war.” He has endorsed every Republican presidential candidate except Bob Dole in 1996, because Dole had criticized Moore for her role in the movie Striptease. Willis was an invited speaker at the 2000 Republican National Convention, and continues to vocally support gun ownership. He has criticized the religious right and its influence on the Republican party. In February 2006, Willis appeared in Manhattan to talk about 16 Blocks with reporters. One reporter attempted to ask Willis about his opinion on current events but was interrupted by Willis in mid-sentence:

In several June 2007 interviews, he declared that he still maintains some Republican ideologies but is currently an independent. In an interview for the June 2007 issue of Vanity Fair, Bruce Willis said he was skeptical that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and suggested that some people involved in the assassination are still in power today.

In 2006, he proposed that the United States should invade Colombia in order to end the drug trafficking. In several interviews with USA Weekend, Willis has said that he supports large salaries for teachers, and says that he is disappointed in the United States' foster care and treatment of Native Americans. Willis also stated that he is a big supporter of gun rights:

"Everyone has a right to bear arms. If you take guns away from legal gun owners, then the only people who have guns are the bad guys." Even a pacifist, he insists, would get violent if someone were trying to kill him. "You would fight for your life."

Military interests

Throughout his film career, Willis has depicted several military characters in films such as The Siege, Hart's War, Tears of the Sun, and Grindhouse. Growing up in a military family, Willis has been publicly supportive of the United States armed forces. In 2002, Willis' youngest daughter, Tallulah, suggested that he purchase Girl Scout cookies to send to troops. Willis purchased 12,000 boxes of cookies, and they were distributed to sailors aboard USS John F. Kennedy and other troops stationed throughout the Middle East at the time. In 2003, Willis visited Iraq as part of the USO tour, singing to the troops with his band, The Accelerators. Some reports from military officials suggest that Willis tried to enlist in the military to help fight the second Iraq war, but he was turned away because of his age. It was believed he offered US$1 million to any civilian who turns in terrorist leaders Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; in the June 2007 issue of Vanity Fair, however, he clarified that the statement was made hypothetically and not meant to be taken literally. Willis has also criticized the media for its coverage of the war, complaining that the press were more likely to focus on the negative aspects of the war:

Willis has said that he wants to "make a pro-war film in which American soldiers will be depicted as brave fighters for freedom and democracy." The film will follow members of Deuce Four, the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry, who spent considerable time in Mosul and were decorated heavily for it. The film is to be based on the writings of blogger Michael Yon, a former United States Army Special Forces Green Beret who was embedded with Deuce Four and sent regular dispatches about their activities. Willis described the plot of the film as "these guys who do what they are asked for very little money to defend and fight for what they consider to be freedom." Mr. Willis does not appear to have spoken publicly about his plans for this movie since 2005.

Since March 2008, Bruce Willis has been playing the role of the 'Child Catcher' in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium.

Cultural references

In 1996, Roger Director, a writer and producer from Moonlighting wrote a roman à clef on Willis titled A Place to Fall. Cybill Shepherd wrote in her 2000 autobiography, Cybill Disobedience, that Willis was angry at Director, because the character was written as a "neurotic, petulant actor."

In 1998 Willis participated in Apocalypse, a Sony Playstation game. The game was originally announced to feature Willis but was soon discovered he appeared as a sidekick, not as the main character. The company reworked the game using Willis' likeness and voice and changed the game to use him as the main character.

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1980 The First Deadly Sin Man Entering Diner as Delaney Leaves extra
1982 The Verdict Courtroom Observer extra
1985 A Guru Comes Unknown role extra
1987 Blind Date Walter Davis
1988 The Return of Bruno Bruno Radolini
Sunset Tom Mix
Die Hard John McClane US$5 million salary
1989 That's Adequate Himself cameo
In Country Emmett Smith
Look Who's Talking Mikey voice
1990 Die Hard 2 John McClane US$7,500,000 salary
Look Who's Talking Too Mikey voice
The Bonfire of the Vanities Peter Fallow US$5 million salary
1991 Mortal Thoughts James Urbanski
Hudson Hawk Eddie 'Hudson Hawk' Hawkins also co-wrote plot and theme music
Billy Bathgate Bo Weinberg
The Last Boy Scout Joseph Cornelius 'Joe' Hallenbeck
1992 The Player Himself cameo
Death Becomes Her Dr. Ernest Menville
1993 National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 John McClane uncredited cameo
Striking Distance Tom 'Tommy' Hardy
1994 North Narrator
Color of Night Dr. Bill Capa
Pulp Fiction Butch Coolidge salary of US$1,685 a week and percentage of the US$200 million profit
Nobody's Fool Carl Roebuck
1995 Die Hard with a Vengeance John McClane
Four Rooms Leo uncredited
Twelve Monkeys James Cole
1996 Last Man Standing John Smith
Beavis and Butt-Head Do America Muddy Grimes voice
1997 The Fifth Element Korben Dallas
The Jackal The Jackal
1998 Mercury Rising Art Jeffries
Armageddon Harry S. Stamper US$20 million salary plus percentage of profits
The Siege Major General William Devereaux US$5 million salary
Apocalypse Trey Kincaid Voice and likeness in videogame
1999 Franky Goes to Hollywood Himself Short subject
Breakfast of Champions Dwayne Hoover
The Sixth Sense Dr. Malcolm Crowe US$100 million salary (includes salary, gross, & video revenue); highest earnings for any actor at the time
The Story of Us Ben Jordan
2000 The Whole Nine Yards James Stefan 'Jimmy' Tudeski
The Kid Russell 'Russ' Duritz US$20 million salary
Unbreakable David Dunn US$20 million salary
2001 Bandits Joe Blake
2002 Hart's War Col. William A. McNamara US$22,500,000 salary
Grand Champion CEO cameo
2003 Tears of the Sun Lieutenant A.K. Waters
Rugrats Go Wild! Spike voice
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle William Rose Bailey cameo
2004 The Whole Ten Yards Jimmy 'The Tulip' Tudeski
Ocean's Twelve Himself cameo
2005 Hostage Jeff Talley US$25 million salary, co-producer
Sin City John Hartigan US$5 million
2006 Alpha Dog Sonny Truelove
16 Blocks Jack Mosley Producer, US$20 million salary
Fast Food Nation Harry Rydell
Lucky Number Slevin Mr. Goodkat US$7 million
Over The Hedge RJ voice US$10 million
2007 The Astronaut Farmer The Colonel uncredited
Perfect Stranger Harrison Hill US$15 million
Grindhouse Lt. Muldoon US$1 million
Nancy Drew Himself cameo
Live Free or Die Hard John McClane US$25 million +20% of all gross
2008 Assassination of a High School President Principal Kirkpatrick awaiting release
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men Kane pre-production
What Just Happened? Himself awaiting release
2009 The Surrogates Agent Greer filming

Television

Year(s) Title Role Notes
1984 Miami Vice Tony Amato episode "No Exit"
1985 The Twilight Zone Peter Jay Novins episode "Shatterday"
1985-1989 Moonlighting David Addison Jr. 67 episodes
1996-1997 Bruno the Kid Bruno the Kid voice
1997 Mad About You Amnesia patient episode "The birth part 2"
1999 Ally McBeal Dr. Nickle episode "Love Unlimited"
2000 Friends Paul Stevens three episodes
2002 True West Lee television movie
2005 That '70s Show Vic episode "Misfire"

Producer

Year Title Other notes
1988 Sunset co-executive producer
2002 The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course producer
2007 The Hip Hop Project executive producer
Live Free or Die Hard producer

Discography

  • Return of Bruno, 1987, Razor & Tie,
  • If It Don't Kill You, It Just Makes You Stronger, 1989, Motown / Pgd, .
  • Classic Bruce Willis: The Universal Masters Collection, 2001, Polygram Int'l, .

Awards and honors

Willis has won a variety of awards and has received various honors throughout his career in television and film.

  • For his work on the television show Moonlighting he won an Emmy ("Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series") and a Golden Globe ("Best Performance by an Actor in a TV-Series - Comedy/Musical") plus received additional nominations for the show.
  • In the 1999 drama/thriller film, The Sixth Sense, Willis won the Blockbuster Entertainment Award ("Favorite Actor - Suspense") and the People's Choice Award ("Favorite Motion Picture Star in a Drama") and was nominated for the Saturn Award for Best Actor and received two nominations for the MTV Movie Awards for "Best Male Performance" and "Best On-Screen Duo".
  • In February 2002, Willis was awarded the Hasty Pudding Man of the Year award from Harvard's Hasty Pudding Theatricals. According to the organization, the award is given to performers who give a lasting and impressive contribution to the world of entertainment.
  • Also in 2002, Willis was appointed as national spokesman for Children in Foster Care by President George W. Bush. Willis wrote online: "I saw Foster Care as a way for me to serve my country in a system by which shining a little bit of light could benefit a great deal by helping kids who were literally wards of the government."
  • In April 2006, he was honored by French government for his contributions to the film industry. Willis was named "Officier Dans L'ordre Des Arts Et Des Lettres" (Officer In The Order Of Arts And Letters) in a ceremony in Paris. The French Prime Minister stated "This is France's way of paying tribute to an actor who epitomizes the strength of American cinema, the power of the emotions that he invites us to share on the world's screens and the sturdy personalities of his legendary characters."
  • On October 16, 2006, Willis was honored with a star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star is located at 6915 Hollywood Boulevard and it was the 2,321st star awarded in its history. Willis, reacting to his reception of the star, stated "I used to come down here and look at these stars and I could never quite figure out what you were supposed to do to get one...time has passed and now here I am doing this, and I'm still excited. I'm still excited to be an actor."
  • In Tokyo, Japan, Willis was named honorary chief of the cyberterrorism task force by the National Public Safety Commission on June 12, 2007. Kensei Mizote, the head of the commission, told Willis to "lead the world to create a safer society."

References

Media

External links

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