BRUCE WILLIS INTERVIEW – ‘A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD’
Action hero, Bruce Willis, 57, stars in the fifth instalment of the Die Hard franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard. The former husband of Demi Moore, whom he called his wife from 1987 until 2000 and produced three daughters, is now married to British actress and model, Emma Hemming, 34. Hemming gave birth to a daughter, Mabel, in October 2011.
Willis, an army brat, was born in West Germany and soon after, the family settled in New Jersey. After high school he took a job as a security guard in a power plant and then did some work as a private investigator, and bartended in various bars throughout New York City. His acting career began in the television series, Moonlighting, as well as the 1991 film, The Last Boy Scout.
Although he is mainly recognised as an action star, he’s also appeared in over sixty films including Pulp fiction, 12 Monkeys, The Fifth Element, The Sixth Sense, Sin City, and Moonrise Kingdom
In person, he’s quietly spoken, reserved, and friendlier than one might expect. He’s tanned, trim, and youthful and is wearing jeans and a pale grey sweater over a white-t-shirt.
Q: Coming into the movie 25 years after the franchise started, did you worry whether you can still run fast enough? Was there much stuff you couldn’t do anymore? Any limits?
Less than I thought. There’s so much in action films that reminds me of being a kid, reminds me of playing Army, which is what we used to do, or just fighting, or throwing rocks at each other, those kinds of things. But it’s all that kind of combat. I’m sure at one point you probably heard me say that I was thinking that, well I don’t know if I can do that. I can’t run as fast, or fight as hard, or get up off the ground as fast as I used to be, but actually, I am all right.
Q: But how do you keep in shape?
Just the same story, exercise. I go to the gym, nothing really crazy. I haven’t worked out in six months. I took a break, (laughs) but maybe took too much of a break.
Q: Did you do anything special though before this movie?
No, I just got in shape. And it’s a really simple idea, that you just make your muscles a little bigger, so when you fall, you don’t break your bones. And your muscles are supposed to cushion you from that, and look, everybody wears pads when you fall out of something, or jump out of a car, any of those crazy things, they keep you really safe.
Q: Your kids are grown up now. Are you still learning stuff from them?
Well, I am learning about what it’s like for them to be young adults and in their twenties. I still am trying to make my little baby laugh. I just like it, that’s all.
Q: Is that different to have a baby now that you are older?
Q: Is it better?
Much better. I pay more attention I think.
Q: Do you relate to John McClane when he says ‘I spent too much time working, I screwed the kid up?’
No, I mean I tried to balance it out. I tried to, I would always do things that I didn’t see other people do. I would build things into my schedules, I would say, ‘I am going to need to have these two weeks off here and you have to go shoot with someone else.’ I didn’t know that that was an unusual thing, but it turned out to be unusual.
Q: Why did your real daughter, Rumer not play your daughter in this?
She could have, but she was doing another film at the time, she was working.
Q: In times like this, how you like the way the CIA is represented in movies?
I think there is real life in their movies, what happens in movies unless it’s a documentary is just an opportunity to try and make money, and to entertain people. I don’t think anyone ever wants to make the real story of the CIA, because what the CIA does is really against the law. (laughter) Don’t you think?
Q: Do you think sometimes that the law uses famous people to set an example?
I don’t know. I don’t break the law. (laughter) I hardly ever pay any attention to it.
Q: How do you feel about where your career is these days? Are you as excited about it as when you were younger? Where does that sit with you now?
I think I have more time to reflect on the fact that I even have a career. In the beginning when it was all happening at a really fast pace, I never had time to consider and think, I have a career and now I get to do this, but I kept getting to do really exciting things. Now I can take a look at it and go, that happened a long time ago. And these five films happened in the last 25 years. I’m just thrilled to be able to do it, and that it happened just seems too crazy.
Q: You’re working less these days?
Yeah, in the last few years and I have chosen to work less than I used to. I used to work all the time, and now I just like hanging out with my kids.
Q: Do you want to keep playing John McLane? Is it going to be the last one?
No, it depends. I never thought about stopping. I always think that there’s one more to do.
Q: What did you love about him when he first came your way 25 years ago? Why did you buy it when others reportedly turn it down?
There weren’t any rules written down about the character, how he talked or what his attitude was, and that attitude that you see, was just me and just being cocky. I kept being encouraged to be this kind of smart ass guy.
Q: Do you have a lot of fans among the police detectives in real life?
Q: Do they think you give them a good image?
They think I am doing all right. (laughter) They think I represent their image very well.
Q: Are you into new gadgets? Are you a technology person?
Kind of, kind of.
Q: What’s your favorite gadget?
Q: In terms of your personal life, does thinking about this franchise, this movie in particular, make you go back in time as well?
No, I go back in time every day, and I think about it all the time. I have recently, because of having to talk about doing a series of films, I have no idea how any of this happened to me at all. I couldn’t explain it to you. I couldn’t say, ‘Yeah, well I was going to do this and then I did this and then I said, I am going to go to Hollywood,’ but I never thought of any of that. I just liked to do plays. I used to do plays in New Jersey and then in New York, off-off Broadway, and I had a couple of good breaks and I came to California.
Q: Was it good luck?
Yeah. What would you call it? I don’t know, I think that it’s fantastic good fortune. To get to have a job that I continue to like and never didn’t like it. I get to try new things, I get to make mistakes and get to come back to the job, even if I make mistakes.
Q: How do you deal with being so beaten up in these movies?
I don’t know, I think it’s a guy thing. I think the challenge of not complaining is going, ‘I am all right, I am not cold. (laughter) It’s okay.’ And it’s just those kind of silly, guy contests with yourself and that’s the other thing. I think as close as I could come to any explanation of how I got to hang out in Hollywood for so long and get to do so many fun movies, is that I was only competing with myself. I was only trying to do better than I did and to be more honest or be funnier, or be less funnier, be more serious, or be more of anything. Just try to do better.
Q: How did you manage to do that though, because very famously, Arnold and Sylvester always competed and I am sure they tried to reel you in somehow, with their cocky behavior.
I don’t know about those guys competing. They are really good friends, even back in the time when everybody said they were competing. I mean, they are two completely different guys with completely different approaches, and the fact that they both still get to work now is just amazing.
Q: Talking about that for example, they are coming back as well right now which is kind of a coincidence maybe? Maybe not? Because there hasn’t really been a new generation of stars, action stars as iconic as you guys were?
I think there are new action stars, I think Jason Statham is one.
Q: But not iconic.
Well, we will see how Jason Statham does. I mean, he’s really good and he does well at that and I mean Daniel Craig is a pretty tough guy, and he reinvented that, that whole genre. He made me start watching James Bond movies again. He’s great and it takes a while to become a guy that is as mythical as Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s done a lot of things. He was the Governor of California. That was the most amazing thing that I’ve ever seen.
Q: Have you ever thought about politics?
No. Well yes, but just in about that same amount of time. They said, ‘What do you think, do you think about it?’ I go,’Yeah I thought about it.’ And then nothing ever happens. (laughter) And I did a lot of things when I was a kid, that I think would always keep me out of politics. (laughter)
Q: What is the key to being a good action hero?
Well, really what you are saying is how, what’s the key to be entertaining? Action is comprised of a lot of things, action, and fire and car crashes, and peril of death, of impending death, that you are going to jump out of this window, and you are going to live somehow, it gets stretched in these films. Sometimes some of the best action I think I have done in these films is when I don’t speak, and I am just looking at somebody looking at something, or thinking about something, or trying to figure something out. It’s just as much of that as it is talking or shooting guns or any of that.
Q: Are you over protective? Do you relate to that aspect of the character with your children?
Well, I relate to it completely. I don’t think you can be too protective. I have four daughters now, and I don’t know what other fathers do, but I have been very protective of my daughters.
Q: Did this film make you feel different if it was a son?
Well, I can only imagine it. I see little boys and little kids and I go, I would be protective of these guys too. At a certain age, because there’s something in guys that at a certain point, you just want to say, ‘I got it, I don’t need anyone to help.’ But so I would assume that most boys would get to a certain point where they go, ‘I don’t need to be protected anymore.’ I am okay. But girls are always, ‘Oh dad.’
Q: Are you a good driver?
I’m a good driver, I drive here, but I haven’t driven a car in a year though.
Q: So how do you approach ageing? What are the pros, what are the cons?
I don’t know, I still do the same thing, I still wear the same clothes, I still work out, I still like to eat food. I don’t know, I am sure there will be a time. A couple of times in this film, I got up a little slower falling down. But, I don’t think about it as age, I just think that I landed wrong. (laughter) I didn’t quite land the right way. But I don’t pay that much attention to it.