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The Fretts on Film Interview: Bruce Willis Uncut!

February 28, 2018

Whatchoo talkin’ about, Willis? Not much as it turns out. Maybe Bruce Willis wasn’t having a good day when I interviewed him about A Good Day to Die Hard for today’s New York Daily News. Or maybe he’s just a Hard case. You can judge for yourself by reading this unedited transcript of our tense 20-minute talk.

Why did the time feel right to come back to Die Hard now?

Oh, it didn’t feel right at all. It was just someone came up with the idea of the script and it took two years to get it together, and so it only seems right now to people that didn’t hear that backstory—it took two years to get this done.

Do you think this is the last one? It seems like in a way you’re kind of passing on the torch to your son in the movie.

No, Bruce. I don’t think that at all [laughing]. I’m not a predictor and I never wanted to be. I don’t know, I’m sure there are going to be more. If they make money off this film, they are going to try to keep it going as long as they can.

Do you see it as a franchise where someone else could play the character at some point or do you think it’s so closely identified with you that you’re the one and only?

I understand the question, but probably until I’m too old to run or too old to move or I’m dead, I’ll still keep doing these pictures.

What do you think sets this one apart? Do you think it’s primarily the Moscow location?

I’m not sure anything sets it apart, Bruce. I think there is a certain amount of goodwill that gets extended to this film based on the fact that there is—people love, ‘Oh god, look it’s back, and it’s so wonderful that it’s back’ or something that has to do with something you’re familiar with. You don’t have to try to figure out Die Hard. You just want to go and see it and hope that we’ve done a good job.

Why did you shoot it in Budapest? Is it because the portrayal of Russia isn’t necessarily the most flattering? Or was it the most economically…

It was a studio financial decision, and how much it would have cost in Europe to get locations.

Do you see the film as 80’s nostalgia in anyway, in the sense that the Russians are the bad guys again?

No. not at all. It’s good though. Are you writing these questions yourself, Bruce?

Yes, I wrote the questions myself. Why?

No, no nostalgia of the 80’s. It’s a modern-day thing that has to do with—you saw the film, right?

Yes.

Yeah, you saw it. It’s a modern-day thing about a father who goes to see if his son is in jail or not. Very little to do about Russia or where it is. It just happens to be where my son is.

You did start the series in the 80’s—25 years ago. Did you think you would still be playing John McClane at this point?

[Laughing]. Bruce, what were you doing 25 years ago?

I was in college, actually.

Did you think you’d be having this conversation today?

I did not.

Right. No one predicts the future. No one tries to. No one ever thinks about what the hell is going to happen 25 years from now. I understand the question, but I don’t have an answer for you.

Do you find yourself identifying with the character any more over time?

Only in the same ways I always have. Similar sensibilities. Similar mentality. He kind of thinks that he knows everything, but he really doesn’t know everything. Fish out of water, you know, he has no idea what life is like or should be like in Moscow, and he’s just not like the first film, he’s in LA. I don’t think anybody ever understands Los Angeles, really.

You’ve had ups and downs in your career—and you’ve always managed to come back. Do you identify with the character on that level in any way?

I’m glad you brought that up. I never think about the downs.

No?

Well, only when I get asked during these interviews. Did you have any tough times in your career?

What’s that?

I’m asking you the same question—do you ever think about the ups and down in your career?

Sure, I have.

Do you really?

Yeah!

Willis: When was the last time you thought about it?

[Laughing]. I think about it all the time.

Come on, let’s be honest.

I think about it all the time.

You’re not being interviewed—I’m just asking.

No, I’m telling the truth.

When was the last time you had like a big down?

It’s been about 10 years.

10 years? It’s probably fading in your memory now.

Do you find these movies any easier or harder to do now than in the past?

I still get a big kick out of it. I don’t really have to do any of the hard work. Just trying to be funny, try to keep it lifelike. Stunts and all the big hard things are done by very special group called the special effects department.

The rest of the cast in this movie is not very well known. Does that put more pressure on you that you don’t have a big costar along with you?

I don’t think so. I don’t ever really think about what pressure is on me, whether it’s a lot of pressure, whether it’s a little pressure. It’s a really good cast and they all do a great job in the film.

Do you look at these movies as enabling you in some ways to do other types of films like Looper or Moonrise Kingdom? Or do you not look at your career in that way?

What do you think?

I think it probably does. I think it probably makes you more viable to do a big action movie like this. But I’m curious if that’s the way you think about approaching your career.

Well, I think that show-business is still a very big business—based upon business, based upon commerce and very little is based upon performance. You’re the entertainment guy over at your newspaper, right?

I write about film.

You write about films, so you get it.

421285922You’ve done a couple of ensemble action films lately—The Expendables and the Red movies. Do you think there’s anything to be said about strength in numbers in that type of approach? We’ve seen Arnold and Sylvester Stalone put out movies solo that haven’t done as well. Does that concern you?

No, not a concern. Not a concern.

Do you feel like the Die Hard franchise is strong enough to carry itself?

The Die Hard franchise is just one of the big, bright shining stars of my work. I get to work in all kinds of films. I work for free, I work for a lot of money, and I get to do whatever I want. I don’t worry about much these days.

That’s good. Do you have any feelings about putting out the film now when there’s all this discussion about violence in media and guns?

I just find it amazing that you would even ask that . What are your thoughts on it? Your personal thoughts—that’s what I’m asking you

I tend to think that people place to0 much emphasis on violence in the media. I think that people understand the difference between reality and the movies, but there is a lot of discussion about it so I’m just curious what your opinion is.

There is the world of discussion and there is the world of reality. I’ve been asked the last few days the same thing, and I just find it to be a banal question to ask, when you already know the answer to—that you’re pretty clear on the answer to this question.

I’m clear on my opinion. I’m curious about yours though. People have different opinions.

Mine’s pretty much the same as yours. I’ve been asked for a long time. But if you think anyone goes out and commits crimes because of some daffy film that they’ve seen, then I question your judgment. So you already knew the answer—it’s just something to say right?

No, I didn’t know what your answer would be. I wanted to know what you thought.

I want you to get back to me, Bruce, 6 months from now, and I want you to ask someone every day. Ask every day. Just do that test. And just see is there anyone that really thinks crime happens because of something they saw in a film. You already know the answer, right? You know that answer, you know the answer! It’s just something to say. These are the problems that I have with interviews. If you want to ask me interesting questions with something to actually ask with some reality in the world—but that was just something to ask.

Well, it’s something that people are talking about so I felt like it was relevant, but I can move onto other things. The last film was a PG-13 film. This film is back to the R rating. Is there a reason why?

I’m not sure. I haven’t been told what the reason why is.

Do you feel that these movies should be rated R?

Oh, I don’t know. Again, I’m the wrong person to ask. It’s just business. If you let more people in because it’s R rated, you’re going to make more money. I don’t make more money, but the studio does so that’s a consideration. It’s just a business.

Do you have any thoughts about it being released on Valentines Day? I know that’s a marketing decision, too.

It’s a marketing decision outside of my realm of knowledge. I think it’s because there are 5 or 6 days off that the kids don’t go to school so they get more people in the theaters at that time that they would some other time. It’s horrible to talk about these despicable aspects of money, but that’s really what the conversation is, isn’t it?

die-hard-best-christmas-movieI saw a quote from you—I don’t know if it’s accurate or not. But it’s that a lot of movies are trying to be as good as the first Die Hard movie, and you didn’t know if anything would ever be as good. Do you feel like that’s the case with this film?

It’s a good goal to reach for and to try to be as good as the first film. It’s difficult to make anything as good as the first time you see something, in any film—the first Harry Potter, the first anything—and then to go on and make sequels.

They’re doing a marathon of all the Die Hards in some theaters leading up to the premiere of the new one. Is that something that you would ever do yourself?

No. But I think it’s a very nice thing to give to the audience because you don’t always get to see the first film or the second film or the third film in a theater—you see it on TV or a little screen.

When you look back on your career, are there certain films that you consider pivotal to your development as an actor?

I don’t know. I think that all the work that I’ve done has affected me one way or another or helped me. Even then worst film I ever did has helped me get better as an actor and as a chooser of the films that I choose to make.

I read another quote from you when you said that you always thought that the best work you would do would be between the ages of 40 and 60. Do you think that’s true?

I haven’t thought about that. I said that a long time ago. I think I was just trying to evade another question at the time that I said that. I don’t know. I don’t know if any of it is really good. The audience is really the ultimate answer to that. do they go? Do they like it? Do they like thing? I know what I like about my work, and it doesn’t always line up with what the audience likes.

Do you feel like your at that stage of your life where you’re reflecting or do you not tend to look back?

No, I just think about little moments that I like in films that satisfy me that are not necessarily always commented on—little wins for myself.

Are there a few things you can isolate? A few moments you would like to see in a clip reel of your career?

I can’t think of one. I just know that there are things that I like that satisfy me that aren’t really about what the film is about.

I want to ask you about fatherhood. I heard it was your idea to do a father/son story. Is that true?

Well, yeah. It was mine and my brother David’s idea, and it’s a pretty kind of knee-jerk reaction. It was all based on that photo that was behind the desk in the very first film. There are two little kids in there and somewhere along the line, one of us said, yeah, we should get that girl in the film. And we should get my little son in the film. And that guy turned out to be Jai Courtney. So it’s just a way to extend the genre.

Bruce+Willis+wife+Emma+Heming+take+stroll+X_sgVofiunplYour older daughters are all grown now, and now you’re starting with a new baby girl. How does that feel?

It feels great. That’s all I want to do is hang around these girls.

Do you have any feelings about not having had a son?

No, I never think about it. I would have 5 more girls tomorrow.

What was the best advice your parents ever gave you?

Don’t drink and drive. I don’t know. My parents gave me very little advice. I just made that one up—it’s probably good advice. Tell your audience to not drink and drive. Bruce, you have a great amount of patience, and who likes talking to actors anyway?

I enjoy it. I do!

I know.

I appreciate your taking the time to do this.

Thank you. Some day we’ll have a real interview and a real conversation that isn’t about these bullet points of cinema.

Well, I’ve only got 20 minutes. I’m just trying to hit as many…

You did great, you did great.

Are we out of time or can I ask you another question?

Go ahead. Give me your best question. What do you got?

Well I just wanted to talk to you about the other films you have coming up—G.I. Joe, the Red sequel, Sin City. These are all sequels—is that a coincidence?

I just have some things that pop up from time to time somewhere, and will be done in the late part of 2012. But I have high hopes for Sin City and I’m trying to get a film going—what’s the name? The little boy whose elbow exploded. Have you heard about this picture?

No, I haven’t heard about that one.

Yeah, I’m having a hard time getting it off the ground.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the story?

No, I can’t. it’s shrouded in secrecy right now.

Well, good luck. I hope you get it made.

The next conversation, we’ll be talking about that one. You’re very patient. You’re very patient.

What do you think? Was it me, or was it him? Post a comment!

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5 Comments
  1. John permalink

    Willis was a jerk in this interview. He should have a sign around his neck with “I’m a rich cool actor. I’m above you. The world loves me. I don’t care about you.” On the desk nearby a coffee table book of his properties and former romance partners.

  2. Rob permalink

    Honestly I kind of admire Bruce’s answers here. He’s being honest and not giving pre-written answers to pre-written questions that these media scrums seem to always have.
    It’s a business. He’s there to make money, the studio wants to make money. People want to see shit get blown up. That’s why they go see a Diehard film.
    He’s right. Maybe next time you can give a real interview and not ask questions you think you already know the answer to.

  3. I think we expect actors to be philosophical on their past and they aren’t that deep (thinkers). I like his acting though. I hope to see him in lots more films. You do good interviews!

    • bruceafretts permalink

      Thanks! And I agree (that some actors are not deep thinkers, not that I do good interviews).

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