EIn early 1987, producers Larry Gordon and Joel Silver were on the hunt for an action hero. They were working on a roller coaster story about terrorists hijacking a Los Angeles skyscraper, and the script called for a muscle-bound bruise.
For contractual reasons, Frank Sinatra was at the top of the list Die Hard. Ol’ Blue Eyes had declined at first as he had been the star of the 1968s The detectivewhich like Die Hard was based on the thriller novels by author Roderick Thorp.
When the 70-year-old crooner confirmed his days fighting terrorists were long behind him, producers went straight to the most obvious candidate: Arnold Schwarzenegger. the terminator, command and predator Star said no, preferring to try her hand at comedy opposite Danny DeVito Twins. The rejections kept coming: Richard Gere, Burt Reynolds, Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, Nick Nolte, Don Johnson and Mel Gibson all passed.
At the bottom of the list was Bruce Willis. He also passed and referred to promises undeclared work, the private investigator TV show in which he appeared alongside Cybill Shepherd. Then the fates coincided. “As it turns out, a miracle happened,” Willis said Weekly entertainment in 2007. “Cybill Shepherd got pregnant and they closed the show for 11 weeks – just the right amount of time for me to be walking around Nakatomi Tower.”
Willis’ blockbuster performance as John McClane not only changed his own life, transforming him from a likable television favorite to a bankable A-list movie star overnight, but also redefined what it means to be an action hero. Before the creation of Willis, the stars of the 80’s gung-ho movies were built like invincible monoliths. His appeal was different: funnier, more vulnerable, more human. He ended up making more than the $5 million that Gordon and Silver paid him. “In this crazy world we live in, Bruce was worth every penny,” Gordon said The New York Times in 1988. “For the project to work, you have to feel like the character might not make it, and Bruce is more everyman than most of your big stars.”
The announcement that Willis is “retiring” from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, a form of brain damage that impairs the expression and comprehension of language, is sad news for everyone who has embraced this simple attraction in the decades since have pleased. There can be few moviegoers who haven’t. His body of work is long, idiosyncratic, and devoid of macho ideas about the kind of roles a leading man should fill, perhaps best illustrated by the fact that he followed Die Hard by voicing a baby in the John Travolta and Kirstie Alley rom-com Look who’s talking.
In the ’90s, Willis continued to balance hard-hitting action roles, like in Tony Scott’s maniacal buddy-cop movie the last boy scout with comedic parts that allowed him to play against the guy, like the gentle, moustachioed Dr. Ernest Menville in Robert Zemeckis’ dark beauty satire Death becomes her. There was violence in his comedy and comedy in his violence. There are few better examples of Willis’ ability to pull a laugh out of the depths of darkness than the infamous gimp scene in the 1994s pulp fiction. “It was great writing coupled with frightening violence,” Willis said GQ in 2013. “Death everywhere. The timing of what is said and what happens in the “It’s been a very strange day” joke that just keeps going. Therein lies romance for me. Drugs, violence, great writing.”
The great success of pulp fiction helped revitalize Willis’ career after notable flops The bonfire of vanities and hudson hawk, but he still refused to play it safe. There were mind-blowing sci-fi antics like Terry Gilliam’s 12 monkeys 1995 and Luc Bessons The fifth Element in 1997, and he still found time to headline really massive blockbusters like Michael Bay’s drill-in-space disaster epic Armageddonthe world’s highest-grossing film in 1998. The following year, Willis changed directions again, earning the best reviews of his career for his starring role as a child psychologist in M Night Shyamalan’s chilling psychological thriller The sixth Sense.
Over the past decade, Willis’ decision to star in a long line of poorly-reviewed direct-to-video films has coincided with a dwindling of his box-office star, but there have still been notable highlights like 2012’s collaboration with Wes Anderson Moonrise Kingdom and return to time-jumping science fiction in grinder, a film that Willis considers his best work. “It’s better than anything I’ve ever done,” Willis said esquirepraised Rian Johnson, who would go on to direct Star Wars: The Last Jedi and knife out. “Rian has done something amazing. He conceived an original story. He wrote it, sold it, stuck with it, directed it, and finished it. It’s just difficult in this city.” Johnson returned the compliment. “He’s such a great actor,” said the director The Hollywood Reporter, Of note is Willis’ willingness to undermine his own hard-earned reputation. “The fact that he’s Bruce Willis and he has that action star personality works with this character in a very interesting way.”
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Willis’ transformative impact on what it means to be an action hero is evident in the work of a slew of contemporary stars, from the testosterone-fueled performances of Jason Statham and Vin Diesel to the quips of Ryan Reynolds. It’s unlikely, however, that any of his apparent heirs will succeed in building a collection of films as diverse, interesting, and downright entertaining as Willis’s. He’s created a genre all his own, as he made clear on his own Comedy Central Roast in 2018, while also clearing up the longstanding controversy surrounding it Die Hard should be considered a Christmas movie. “Die Hard is not a Christmas film,” he explained to the enthusiastic audience in a binding manner. “It’s a goddamn Bruce Willis movie!”
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/bruce-willis-tributes-aphasia-die-hard-b2047706.html There will never be another action hero like Bruce Willis