Bruce Willis is a famous movie star who has appeared in several classic and iconic movies. While horror fans may know him best as one of the leads in the movie ‘Sixth Sense’, his most well-known gigs were in the widely popular Die Hard movies.
Along with being playing the lead or co-lead, Willis has also opted for smaller roles as supporting characters in hit movies like ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Nobody’s Fool’. He’s undoubtedly a talented actor, but always keeps his fans on their feet with some eclectic choices during his career. Even his most diehard fans might not know every single fact about Bruce Willis, so let’s have a look at some of the most interesting ones now:
1. He Was Born in Germany
While Bruce Willis might have the majority of his fan base in the United States, he was actually born in West Germany in 1955. His father was an American and a military man, and Willis was born while his parents were in Idar-Oberstein. When he was two years old, the family moved to New Jersey.
After the move to America, Bruce Willis attended high school and university in Carneys Point in the state of New Jersey. During this time, he was already earnest about acting and would jump at the chance to follow his dreams.
After just two years at university, Willis made the decision to drop out and go to New York City. His aim here was to start pursuing a career in acting and performance.
2. He Was a Bartender in New York City
Predictably, Bruce Willis wasn’t immediately accepted into the acting circle right away. He had to work his way up; and in the meantime, there were bills to pay and food to buy.
In New York City, Willis was consistently auditioning for various acting roles and even getting a break on occasion. In 1977, he was in the off-Broadway play called ‘Heaven and Earth. At that time, he was also bartending at a place called Chelsea Central. This was located on the Upper West Side in New York City.
Even in this necessary job, Willis was not content to be just passably good. Fellow actor John Goodman knew Bruce Willis before both individuals achieved notable fame. Good man states that Bruce Willis was probably one of the very best bartenders in the city. Along with being hardworking, he would keep the people entertained every single night and keep the show going.
3. He Was Cast in an ‘Uncastable’ Role
In the early 1980s, Bruce Willis was only slightly experienced in the movie industry. He had done some bit parts and stage work, such as Frank Sinatra’s ‘The First Deadly Sin’ and Paul Newman’s ‘The Verdict’.
With this little experience under his belt, Willis still went to audition for ‘Moonlighting’, a detective drama by the ABC channel. David Addison was proving to be an ‘unstable’ character at the time. The issue had gone to such a point that the ABC network was considering a pay-off with the director Bob Butler, the creator Glenn Gordon Caron, and female lead Cybill Shepherd so that they would abandon the whole project.
Things soon turned around after the audition by Bruce Willis. He beat out around 3000 other hopeful actors and was a shoo-in for the part. Eventually, the series started and had a fairly successful run from 1985 to 1989.
For those who are interested, here is a more detailed look at how Bruce Willis got his start in acting.
4. The Die Hard Movies Meant that Bruce Willis Was Able to Influence Salaries in Hollywood
It might seem unlikely that one movie series or one actor could change the payment structure in Hollywood for good. However, it does seem like this is what happened with Bruce Willis.
While he was working in ‘Moonlighting’, Bruce Willis was on hiatus and shooting mostly feature films such as Kim Basinger’s ‘Blind Date’ in 1987. However, his 1988 venture in ‘Die Hard’ was what really brought him to big-screen fame. The first movie in this action film series was about a policeman in New York City, who gets trapped in a skyscraper in Los Angeles. With his are his wife (although the couple is estranged at that point) and a terrorist group. The movie soon proved to be a huge hit; as a result, 20th Century Fox was ready to pay $5 million to Willis for this role. At that time, the sum was astronomical and quite surprising given Willis’ experience as a TV star until then. While this wasn’t exactly a major career switch like some actors have done, it was still a pretty big jump.
Other main considerations for the same role were Clint Eastwood and Richard Grere. The $5 million offer is especially considerable when we look at what the major stars of the late 1980’s were getting at the time. Michael J. Fox and Tom Cruise were ruling the roost among other famous actors, and they were getting around $3 million for one film. The huge payday for Bruce Willis made other actors and performers sit up and take notice. After this, Hollywood salaries went up all around.
5. One Of His Movies Was Based On a Song
After the success of Die Hard and Die Hard 2 (but before the other sequels), Willis appeared in ‘Hudson Hawk’. At the time, he actor was known to be a proven commodity for box office success. He was hence a widely sought-after actor and could also help in making a project successful.
As it turned out, ‘Hudson Hawk’ was a disappointment with on both the commercial and critical level. The story revolved around a jewel thief who also loved music. He was hired to commit theft in the Vatican. The film’s basis, at least partly, was a 1981 song by Robert Kraft. Kraft and Willis were acquired back in the latter’s bartending days, so the two shared the sing and shape it into a film. They would add stories and more characters until screenwriters Daniel Waters and Stephen De Souza started working on it.
Unfortunately, the film turned out to be a flop and had a huge loss of around $90 million at the box office. The Razzies nominated it as one of the worst films of the entire decade. The cartoonish tone is just one of its many faults, though some may still defend its content.
6. He Wanted to Disappear When Working in Some Movies
Bruce Willis saw a lot of success in his role as an action hero. However, he used this fame and opportunity to work alongside directors and actors that he was inspired by. At times, that meant taking on small, supporting roles instead of the main character or even a villain.
In 1995, ‘Pulp’ was the best example of Willis’ eccentric choices. He appeared in a total of only 22 minutes on the screen, in the role of a boxer named Butch Coolidge. The following year, he took just $1400 per week for working in ‘Nobody’s Fool’ instead of his usual fee of $15 million. This was because he just wanted to work with Paul Newman again, having had a big role in the actor’s 1982 movie, ‘The Verdict’.
In addition to this, Willis wanted to be as quiet about his role as possible and leave the glory to Paul Newman. This is why he opted to leave his photo out of the press kit. His name wasn’t even in any of the production notes.
7. Willis was a Voice Actor in a Cartoon Series
Bruce Willis was the voice of Bruno the Kid, who was the main character in a syndicated animated cartoon series. The premise here was that Bruno was a spy even at the young age of 11. He manages to convince the handlers that he’s an adult. Willis’s own nickname was also Bruno when he was a child, with his musical alter ago also having the same name. This stint into cartoons came in 1996, when Willis was already a well-recognized movie star.
In 1987, Bruce Willis worked on and released an album by the name of ‘The Return of Bruno’. There was also a cable special along with it. However, the cartoon ‘Bruno the Kid’ only lasted for one season.
Bruce Willis certainly seems to be a unique kind of actor. Even after gaining success, he kept on striving for more inspiration and different projects. There are several more interesting facts about him, so anyone interested in successful actors or Bruce Willis in particular should go and look those up.