02 Nov Bruce Willis ~ Television Star Turned Action Hero
Bruce Willis ~ Television Star Turned Action Hero
Walter Bruce Willis (born March 19, 1955) is an American actor, producer, and singer. Born to a German mother and American father and soldier in Idar-Oberstein, Germany, he moved to the United States with his family in 1957. His career began on the Off-Broadway stage in the 1970s. He later achieved fame with his leading role on the hit television series Moonlighting(1985–89). He has since appeared in over 70 films and is widely regarded as an “action hero”due to his portrayal of John McClane in the Die Hard franchise (1988–2013), and other such roles.
His credits also include Death Becomes Her (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), 12 Monkeys (1995), The Fifth Element (1997), Armageddon (1998), The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000), Sin City (2005), Red (2010), Moonrise Kingdom, The Expendables 2, and Looper (all 2012). He made his Broadway debut in the stage adaptation of Misery in 2015.
As a musician, Willis released his debut album, The Return of Bruno, in 1987. He has since released two more solo albums, in 1989 and 2001, respectively.
Willis has described himself as having come from a “long line of blue collar people”.His mother worked in a bank and his father was a welder, master mechanic, and factory worker. Willis attended Penns Grove High School in his hometown, where he encountered issues with a stutter. Finding it easy to express himself on stage and losing his stutter in the process, Willis began performing on stage; his high school activities were marked by such things as the drama club and being student council president.
In 1985, he was the guest actor in the first episode of the 1980s revival of The Twilight Zone, “Shatterday“.He auditioned for the role of David Addison Jr. of the television series Moonlighting(1985–1989), competing against 3,000 other actors for the position. The starring role, opposite Cybill Shepherd, helped to establish him as a comedic actor, with the show lasting five seasons winning him an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy. During the height of the show’s success, beverage maker Seagram hired Willis as the pitchman for their Golden Wine Cooler products. The advertising campaign paid the rising star between $5–7 million over two years. In spite of that, Willis chose not to renew his contract with the company when he decided to stop drinking alcohol in 1988.
Caption on picture: Willis upon receiving an Emmy Award in 1987 for Best Actor in Moonlighting
Willis had his first lead role in a feature film in the 1987 Blake Edwards film Blind Date, with Kim Basinger and John Larroquette. However, it was his then-unexpected turn in the film Die Hard(1988) as John McClane that catapulted him to movie star and action hero status. He performed most of his own stunts in the film, and the film grossed $138,708,852 worldwide.
In the late 1980s, Willis enjoyed moderate success as a recording artist, recording an album of pop-blues titled The Return of Bruno, which included the hit single “Respect Yourself” featuring The Pointer Sisters. The LP was promoted by a Spinal Tap–like rockumentary parody featuring scenes of Willis performing at famous events including Woodstock. He released a version of the Drifters song “Under the Boardwalk” as a second single; it got to No. 2 in the UK Top 40 but was less successful in the U.S. Willis returned to the recording studio several times afterward.
Having acquired major personal success and pop culture influence playing John McClane in Die Hard, Willis reprised his role in the sequels Die Hard 2(1990) and Die Hard with a Vengeance(1995). These first three installments in the Die Hard series grossed over US$700 million internationally and propelled Willis to the first rank of Hollywood action stars.
In the early 1990s, Willis’s career suffered a moderate slump, as he starred in flops such as The Bonfire of the Vanities(1990). He gained more success with Striking Distance(1993) but flopped again with Color of Night(1994): another box office failure, it was savaged by critics but did well in the home video market and became one of the Top 20 most-rented films in the United States in 1995.
In 1994, he had a supporting role as Butch Coolidge in Quentin Tarantino‘s acclaimed Pulp Fiction, which gave a new boost to his career. In 1996, he was the executive producer and star of the cartoonBruno the Kid which featured a CGI representation of himself.
He had more success with 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 played the starring role in M. Night Shyamalan‘s film, The Sixth Sense, which was both a commercial and critical success.
Willis after a ceremony where he was named Hasty Pudding Theatrical’s Man of the Year in 2002
In 2000, Willis won an 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 has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman several times throughout his career.
Willis has appeared in four films 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 with his eldest daughter, Rumer, in the 2005 filmHostage. In 2007, he appeared in the thriller Perfect Stranger, opposite Halle Berry, the crime/drama film Alpha Dog, opposite Sharon Stone, and reprised his role as John McClane in Live Free or Die Hard.
Also in 2010, he appeared in a cameo with former Planet Hollywood co-owners and ’80s action stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film The Expendables. Willis played the role of generic bald man “Mr. Church”. This was the first time these three notable action movie actors appeared on screen together. Although the scene featuring the three was short, it was one of the most highly anticipated scenes in the film. Willis returned, in an expanded role, in The Expendables 2(2012). He appeared alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the sci-fi action film, Looper(2012), as the older version of Gordon-Levitt’s character, Joe.
Willis reprised his most famous role, John McClane, for a fifth time, starring in A Good Day to Die Hard, which was released on February 14, 2013. In an interview, Willis said, “I have a warm spot in my heart for Die Hard….. it’s just the sheer novelty of being able to play the same character over 25 years and still be asked back is fun. It’s much more challenging to have to do a film again and try to compete with myself, which is what I do in Die Hard. I try to improve my work every time.”
Films featuring Willis have grossed between US$2.64 billion and $3.05 billion at the North American box offices, making him in 2010 the eighth highest-grossing actor in a leading role and 12th-highest including supporting roles. He is a two-time Emmy Award winner, two-time Golden Globe Award winner, and has been nominated for a Saturn Award four times.
Willis’ business activities includes property ownership in Los Angeles and in Penns Grove, New Jersey; rents apartments at Trump Tower and in Riverside South, Manhattan, both in New York City; has a home in Malibu, California; a ranch in Montana; a beach house on Parrot Cay in Turks and Caicos; and multiple properties in Sun Valley, Idaho.
In 2000, Willis, with his business partner Arnold Rifkin, started a motion picture production company called Cheyenne Enterprises. He left the company to be run solely by Rifkin in 2007 after Live Free or Die Hard. 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, with actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. In 2009, Willis signed a contract to become the international face of Belvedere SA‘s Sobieski Vodka in exchange for 3.3% ownership in the company.
Relationships and children
At the premiere for the film Stakeout, Willis met actress Demi Moore. They married on November 21, 1987, and had three daughters: Rumer(born August 16, 1988),Scout (born July 20, 1991),and Tallulah (born February 3, 1994).Willis and Moore announced their separation on June 24, 1998. They filed for divorce on October 18, 2000. Regarding the divorce, Willis stated, “I felt I had failed as a father and a husband by not being able to make it work.” He credited actor Will Smith for helping him cope with the situation. Willis has maintained a close relationship with both Moore and her third husband, actor Ashton Kutcher.
Willis was engaged to actress Brooke Burns until they broke up in 2004 after ten months together. He dated actress Tamara Feldman for a time, after they met during the filming of Perfect Stranger. He married model Emma Heming in Turks and Caicos on March 21, 2009. The ceremony was not legally binding, so the couple wed again in a civil ceremony in Beverly Hills, six days later. The couple has two daughters: Mabel Ray Willis (b. 2012) and Evelyn Penn Willis (b. 2014).
Willis was a Lutheran at some point, but no longer practices. In a July 1998 interview with George magazine, he stated: Organized religions in general, in my opinion, are dying forms. They were all very important when we didn’t know why the sun moved, why weather changed, why hurricanes occurred, or volcanoes happened. Modern religion is the end trail of modern mythology. But there are people who interpret the Bible literally. Literally! I choose not to believe that’s the way. And that’s what makes America cool, you know?
In 1988, Willis and then-wife Demi Moore campaigned for DemocraticMassachusettsGovernor Michael Dukakis‘s Presidential bid. Four years later, he supported President George H. W. Bush for reelection and was an outspoken critic of Bill Clinton. However, in 1996, he declined to endorse Clinton’s Republican opponent Bob Dole, because Dole had criticized Demi Moore for her role in the film Striptease. Willis was an invited speaker at the 2000 Republican National Convention, and supported George W. Bush that year. He did not make any contributions or public endorsements in the 2008 presidential campaign. In several June 2007 interviews, he declared that he maintains some Republican ideologies.
In 2006, he said that the United States should intervene more into Colombia, in order to end the drug trafficking. In several interviews Willis has said that he supports large salaries for teachers and police officers, and said he is disappointed in the United States foster care system as well as treatment of Native Americans. Willis also stated that he is a supporter of gun rights, stating, “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.”
Throughout his film career, Willis has depicted several military characters in films such as In Country, The Siege,Hart’s War,Tears of the Sun, Grindhouse, and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Growing up in a military family, Willis has publicly sold Girl Scout cookies for the United States armed forces. In 2002, Willis’ then 8-year-old 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.Willis considered joining the military to help fight the second Iraq War, but was deterred by his age.
Willis stated in 2005 that he wanted to “make a pro-war film in which American soldiers will be depicted as brave fighters for freedom and democracy.” The film would 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 soldier 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.”