Bruce Willis, a movie hero with such an unusual casualness

American actor Bruce Willis, who has starred in more than a hundred films in nearly forty years, has just announced that he is ending his career due to language disorders. Back on his career through a documentary to see on Play RTS until May 2, 2022.

From his debut as David Adison in the “Moonlight” series to his role as John McClane in the “Die Hard” saga or as Butch in “Pulp Fiction”, Bruce’s nearly forty-year career Willis unfolds over more than a hundred more or less successful films.

In any case, the American actor with the famous smirk has been among Hollywood stars since the mid-1980s, after being revealed by the ABC television series “Moonlight” which will contribute to his rating. popularity in the world of cinema and make him a personality appreciated by the general public.

Victim of aphasia, Bruce Willis has just announced that he is ending his film career. The documentary “Bruce Willis, the indestructible”, released in 2020 and currently on Play RTS, tells the atypical journey of one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

>> To see, the documentary “Bruce Willis, the indestructible” (available until May 2, 2022)

Bruce Willis, the indestructible / Portrait / 91 min. / April 2, 2022

A series for recognition

Born on a German military base in the town of Idar-Oberstei, Bruce Willis then spent his adolescence in New Jersey where he dreamed of scenes and music. After studying comedy, which he left to settle in New York, he multiplied small jobs, including that of a recurring bartender filling the cream of Broadway and television, and ran castings. He appears in an episode of “Twilight Zone” while learning the harmonica before the series “Clair de lune” forever changes his destiny.

Auditioned eleven times and refused ten times by the producers of the series which has established itself in 65 episodes as one of the most watched television programs, Bruce Willis embodies the private detective David Adison. Oscillating between drama and comedy, a novelty for the time, “Moonlight” sees him form an ambiguous tandem with his colleague and director of the agency Maddie Hayes played by Cybill Shepherd. Between 1985 and 1989, the duo’s zany investigations, very rhythmic and full of humor, worked wonders and sparked a few sparks on the film set.

This role earned him the title of best actor for a comedy series in 1987 and offered him his ticket to Hollywood. A stepping stone that the filmmaker Blake Edwards hands him in particular with “Drinking and setbacks” (1987) where Bruce Willis forms a shock tandem with a disjunct Kim Basinger.

>> To see, the credits of the series “Moonlight”:

The “Die Hard” saga for glory

But it was “Crystal Trap” (1988) by John McTiernan, a sequel to the thriller “The Detective” with Sinatra, which finally offered him a role as a tailor-made hero in a film that mixed action, suspense and comedy in an unprecedented way. At a time action hero and clown on the edges, the figure of policeman John McClane played by Bruce Willis in this episode which opens the successful saga “Die Hard” will definitely establish his popularity. From there, the actor will become a trademark, as explained by former collaborators interviewed in the documentary. His egg skull and his crooked smile will make the action film evolve, where then rather parade the big arms devoid of humor like Schwarzenegger or Stallone.

The continuation of the long career of Bruce Willis will alternate successful films, minor works or failures without his superstar status being altered. The commercial and critical failure in the 1990s of action comedies like “Hudson Hawk, Gentleman and Burglar” or “The Last Samaritan” by Tony Scott, for example, did not prevent him from trying to vary his repertoire.

>> To see, the trailer for “Piège de cristal”:

Lack of artistic coherence

Working regularly with authors will even allow him to save his career, believe his close collaborators. Whether with Robert Zemeckis for “Death suits you so well” (1992) in a counter-intuitive role, with Quentin Tarantino for “Pulp Fiction” (1994) where he even agrees to lower his salary to share the poster with all the other stars in the credits, at Terry Gilliam for “The army of the 12 monkeys” (1995) where he appears in equilibrium between reason and madness or at Luc Besson for “The fifth element” (1997) as a worn cop too casual than helpful.

A casualness that also seems to be the limit of his game. Although his appearances in M. Night Shyamalan’s feature films in the 2000s (“Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable”, “Glass”) prove that the actor has other strings to its bow. Even if his filmographic choices in recent years, apart from “Moonrise Kingdom”, “Looper”, “Brooklyn Affairs”, seem to see Bruce Willis more inclined to run the cachet than to be concerned with artistic coherence.

Oliver Horner

Update of an article first published in March 2021

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Bruce Willis, a movie hero with such an unusual casualness