Bruce Willis ('Whole Ten Yards')
'The Whole Truth ... and Nothing But The Truth!'
Walter Bruce Willis was born on a military base in Idar-Oberstein (former West Germany), on March 19, 1955. His father David was a welder and factory worker who took the Willis family back to New Jersey after being discharged from the military in 1957.
Settling down in New Jersey, young Bruce, who was the eldest of four children, led an active childhood. Although he was always an outgoing youngster, Willis grew up with a stutter and found it easier to express himself while onstage, performing in front of an audience. This is why his high school days were marked with a drama club membership, as well as the student council presidency.
Rather than go to college after graduation, Willis took the route of his father as a blue-collar worker, transporting work crews at the Du Pont factory. He decided to quit after a colleague was killed on the job, and thereafter became a regular at several bars. Willis also discovered an innate knack for playing the harmonica, and did so for an R&B group, Loose Goose.
After a stint as a bodyguard Willis returned to his original passion: acting. He enrolled in the drama program at Montclair State College, where he was cast in the class production of 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'. The ambitious junior finally decided to leave school in pursuit of more lucrative movie roles by heading for the Big Apple. After countless auditions, Willis finally made his theater debut in the off-Broadway production of 'Heaven and Earth'. He gained more experience and exposure in 'Fool for Love', a stint on television's 'Miami Vice', and a Levi's campaign.
But Willis got his big break when he was cast as smart-talking David Addison, in ABC's 'Moonlighting', despite network executives who wanted to hand the role to a more experienced thespian. Willis and Cybill Shepherd's chemistry made 'Moonlighting' a sensation, and after 4 years of sexual tension and high ratings, 'Moonlighting's days were over.
After a bombing in the slapstick comedy 'Blind Date', Willis found what became his trademark role in 1988; detective John McClane in the actioner, 'Die Hard'. He then lent his voice to the sleeper comedy 'Look Who's Talking' a year later, and reprised his 'Die Hard' role in the 1990 sequel.
Unfortunately, Willis' career was on its way to dying hard. He starred in consecutive bombs, such as 'The Bonfire of the Vanities,' 'Hudson Hawk,' 'Death Becomes Her,' and 'Striking Distance' and was becoming more famous as the husband of "it" girl, Demi Moore!
Thankfully, his role in 1991's 'The Last Boy Scout' featured Willis in the type of action role that gave him star power to begin with, which helped keep the actor's head above water. But it was his role as Butch Coolidge in the cult classic film, 'Pulp Fiction', that gave Willis the knockout punch that salvaged his career.
Since then he has followed up his 1994 'Pulp Fiction' role with performances in such movies as 'Die Hard: With a Vengeance,' 'Twelve Monkeys,' 1997's 'Fifth Element,' the blockbuster 'Armageddon,' 'The Jackal,' 'Mercury Rising' and both 'The Sixth Sense' and 'The Whole Nine Yards'.
Back on the mvie circuit with the sequel to 'Nine Yards,' the aptly-named 'The Whole Ten Yards', Bruce took some time out with us recently in L.A. to dicuss a little bit of this, a little bit of that ... and even some of the other!
Raised in Penns Grove, New Jersey, Willis says that school prepared him for comedy. "If I had my yearbook here, I would show you right now. I was a class clown back in 1976."
Willis, who is not a fan of the press and rarely sits down with the print media at a press junket, actually got the idea for 'The Whole Ten Yards' at, of all things, the press junket for the original comedy when all the actors re-grouped to promote 'The Whole Nine Yards.' Willis says that the main reason to do a sequel is simple. "All we wanted to do was try to make each other laugh."
And that includes wearing the a pear of fluffy bunny slippers in your first scene?! "Ah, those bunny slippers; I have a pair right now," he adds smilingly.
Was it fun again to work alongside your 'friend,' Matthew Perry? "Yeah, I think that we understand timing", Willis explains while sipping his oversized cappuccino.
Where does your own comic timing spring from? "Two places: The first is when I was entertaining my friends all through high school and the other thing is, from working on TV," referring to both his stint on 'Moonlighting', which launched his career back in 1985, and his three-episode stint in 'Friends' four years ago. "You work on TV and your goal is to try to make people laugh and be funny, so you become adept at paying attention to where the joke falls and how long to hold a take. It's an exercise every time and that's all we do. We just fooled around on the set and try to get it to where it just looks and sounds natural. It really is like the Three Stooges."
Explain more about your character 'Jimmy The Tulip' in this film "I was just trying to play a guy about whom nobody knew what was going on, who was capable of anything at any time which evolved, just as in the first film," Willis explains. "We did the first film on our feet, spritzing, the same way every day and in between takes going, 'Okay, how about you try this? Why don't we try this?' There's a shorthand of comedy that happens because everybody gets along so well. It's fun to do this as a job where you're just trying to be funny."
There's a lot of crying in this new film - and most of it is from you! "Yeah, it was kinda fun stepping in Martha Stewart's shoes," he adds laconically.
Changing gears here, how are you dealing with approaching the 50 mark?! "I'm just in a good place and happy, but I'm actually going on 60, so you got it wrong. Therefore I think I look pretty good and as you can see, I've had some work done," he adds, tongue firmly entrenched in cheek.
Will there be a 'Die Hard 4'?! "Well, we've talked about it for ever and people keep asking me about it and so it's been hard to answer." Then he adds: "But, yeah, I think there will be another one. This time McClane and his daughter get involved in a terrorist plot while on a holiday. But, we're having a contest to come up with the ending. What can we do? Have two planets crash into each other? Juggle an asteroid maybe?"
And how's the band doing these days? "We went out and played last summer, recorded it and I put out a little DVD music video just for fun."
I know that you don't wish to talk about your personal life at this time, but you do seem to still be very 'friendly' with Demi! "Demi and I just chose to put our children first. We do it well and we're really fortunate," Willis gruffly responds.
Perhaps you'll be called upon to be best man at your ex-wife's wedding?! [Willis manages a laugh.] "I don't think I would be, but I also saw that article in the National Enquirer and thought it was a little kooky. Of course I'm the last to know when it comes to stuff like that."
Will you end up marrying your girlfriend, actress Brooke Burns? "I'm patterning myself after Mickey Rooney and want to get married at least seven times. I want to be just like Mickey," he insists, almost with a straight face.
Home much of a home-body are you in general? "I think I'm quite domesticated, in that I can cook and I'm tidy. I make a mean Chicken Cacciatore, which would make you start crying it's so good. The chicken falls off the bone," says Willis laughingly for the last time.
Back To Archives