About Bruce Willis
The eldest of four children, Walter Bruce Willis was born on March 19, 1955, in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany, where his father was a welder serving in the U.S. military. The family later moved to Penns Grove, NJ, where Willis spent the remainder of his childhood. Nicknaming himself 'Bruno' to gain confidence, Willis quickly became a popular student; even going on to become student body president. Unfortunately, Willis' political career went up in smoke his senior year when he was suspended for three months, allegedly for smoking pot. After toiling around New Jersey and working menial jobs following graduation - namely at a nearby DuPont chemical factory and as a security guard at a nuclear power plant - Willis decided to give acting a try. While taking classes at Montclair State College, the future star also began to play harmonica in a local blues band called the Loose Goose, a regular ritual which helped the fledgling musician overcome his natural stutter.
Willis broke through both professionally and personally with the school's production of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." With the determination of someone who knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, Willis promptly dropped out of MSC at 19 and moved to New York City, NY to find acting work. In 1977, Willis landed his first stage gig with a role in an off-Broadway production of "Heaven and Earth." But for the most part, he struggled to find acting work while paying the rent with bartender gigs at Chelsea Central and Kamikaze. Willis continued to perform in other off-Broadway roles and appeared briefly in films like "The First Deadly Sin" (1980) and "The Verdict" (1982), as well as occasionally landing guest spots in episodes of "Hart to Hart" (ABC, 1979-1984) and "Miami Vice" (NBC, 1984-89). During the wild 1980s, his devil-may-care bartender attitude fit in perfectly with the night owls of the Big Apple's surreal after-hours swirl. And like many bartenders-by-night/thespians-by-day, Willis was also developing serious acting chops.
In 1984, his first big break came when he replaced Ed Harris in Sam Shepard's off-Broadway hit, "Fool for Love." This led to an audition for "Desperately Seeking Susan" (1985), the Susan Seidelman-helmed mistaken identity comedy starring Madonna and Rosanna Arquette. Though he failed to land the part, Willis stuck around Hollywood an extra day to read for what became a career-launching role: playing wisecracking private investigator David Addison on ABC's wildly successful "Moonlighting." Arriving to the audition in combat fatigues and sporting a punk haircut, he eventually beat out 3,000 other hopefuls because of his unconventional look and cocky attitude. Starring opposite a smug, but demure Cybill Shepherd, Willis possessed the charm of a young Jimmy Cagney. Before long, the hip dialogue-driven romantic comedy became one of the most inventive shows of the decade. Unfortunately, the show's success also bred its share of personality conflicts. Widely publicized battles involving the two stars and show creator Glenn Gordon Caron resulted in production delays and numerous repeat episodes. But the behind-the-scenes tensions helped fuel the palpable onscreen sexual energy between Willis and Shepherd. The carnal edge to their rocky relationship was finally consummated at the end of the 1986-87 season - an event considered by many fans to be the moment when the series "jumped the shark." Willis did, however, win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama that same season.
After appearing in guest spots on several TV shows, in addition to starring in the series pilot for an updated incarnation of "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1985-87), Willis headlined his own music special, "The Return of Bruno" (HBO, 1987), a mockumentary highlighting fictional blues singer Bruno Radolini (Willis) and his band, The Heaters. From there, Willis landed starring roles in two uneven Blake Edwards's comedies, "Blind Date" (1987) and "Sunset" (1988). The actor's charming "Moonlighting" smirk notwithstanding, little of Willis' small screen appeal translated to the big screen and he was pegged as just another fading television personality unable to make the transition into features. But when Hollywood super-agent Arnold Rifkin landed Willis the lead role in the action flick "Die Hard," Willis was thrust into the big time. News broke that he would earn an unprecedented $5 million payday, raising a hue and cry throughout Hollywood that no actor with such trifling films credits should command such a substantial amount of money.
In hindsight, Willis' salary was a bargain. The action thriller, about New York cop John McClane (Willis) trapped in a corporate high-rise when a gang of terrorists hold employees hostage, spawned a franchise and launched Willis as an action-hero on par with the likes of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Willis' wise-guy machismo worked perfectly for the film's hero, leading him to reprise the role in the sequel "Die Hard II: Die Harder" (1990). Meanwhile, he supplied the voice of Mikey in the hit comedy "Look Who's Talking" (1989) and its limp follow-up "Look Who's Talking Too" (1990), then stretched his talents with a surprisingly good performance as the cynical, shell-shocked Vietnam veteran of "In Country" (1989). Willis went on to flex his acting muscles as the low-life murder victim in "Mortal Thoughts" (1991) opposite then-wife Demi Moore, and as the hapless plastic surgeon in the horror comedy "Death Becomes Her" (1992) - both occasional high points in the midst of some extraordinary disasters. Less successful were the abysmal "Bonfire of the Vanities" (1990) based on Tom Wolfe's novel, the self-indulgent action flop "Hudson Hawk" (1991) - for which he co-wrote the story and theme song - as well as the box office disappointments "Billy Bathgate" (1991) and "The Last Boy Scout" (1991), all of which threatened to permanently damage his career.
Once again, critics were wont to write Willis off, just as they did during his post-"Moonlighting" missteps. He defied them all, however, rebounding nicely with several offbeat roles that ran counter to his action hero persona. After spoofing himself in Robert Altman's Hollywood satire "The Player" (1992), he emerged as a prizefighter who refuses to take a dive in Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" (1994). Though overshadowed by co-star John Travolta's sudden return to the limelight after his career had been pronounced dead, Willis nonetheless resuscitated himself in the film's most memorable performance. He next starred in director Terry Gilliam's sci-fi masterpiece "12 Monkeys" (1995), playing a time-traveling scientist whose self-sacrifice alters the course of the future for the betterment of mankind. Later that year, however, Willis suited up for a third go-round as John McClane opposite co-star Samuel L. Jackson in the underrated, "Die Hard with a Vengeance" (1995).
Willis' collaboration with writer-director Walter Hill on "Last Man Standing" (1996), a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1961 samurai masterpiece "Yojimbo," turned out to be a torturous affair. As the 1990s wore on, Willis comfortably wore the mantle of action hero - despite chafing at the genre's limitations - in such big-budgeted effects-laden efforts as Luc Besson's "The Fifth Element" (1997), which enjoyed a tremendous worldwide box office against meager U.S. returns, and the blockbuster "Armageddon" (1998), which depicted him as an oil driller who sacrifices his life to save the world from a giant meteor. Around that same period, Willis attempted a change of pace with his first large-scale, villainous role as the titular mercenary killer in the watchable, but ultimately disappointing thriller, "The Jackal" (1997). It was back to the same ole same for "Mercury Rising" (1998), an action thriller about an FBI agent (Willis) helping an autistic child (Miko Hughes) find safety after accidentally discovering a secret code. Willis' power hungry general also single-handedly altered the tone of "The Siege" (1998) from a serious-minded thriller to a one-dimensional, cartoon shoot-em-up.
In 1999, Willis finally made a life-long pet project, playing Dwayne Hoover, the suicidal car salesman from author Kurt Vonnegut's "Breakfast of Champions." He wisely chose to act in M. Night Shyamalan's paranormal sleeper hit, "The Sixth Sense," which presented him at his most subdued, endearing and effective opposite 12-year-old Haley Joel Osment, a boy who sees dead people. The star also undertook a role which paralleled his own life in Rob Reiner's comedy-drama "The Story of Us" (1999), drawing on his own difficulties with Demi Moore for its sad-sack story of a marriage in trouble. In 2000, Willis continued to resist the call of the action hero, playing a fast-paced, but unhappy Los Angeles executive who gets in touch with his physically manifested inner child (Spencer Breslin) in "Disney's The Kid." After reuniting with Shyamalan in the supernatural thriller "Unbreakable" (2000), Willis scored a surprise hit with "The Whole Ten Yards," a broad comedy in which he was ex-mobster and friendly suburban neighbor Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski.
Returning to the small screen for a three-episode arc on NBC's hit sitcom "Friends" (1994-2004), Willis picked up his second Emmy playing the disapproving father of a college co-ed dating the character of Ross (David Schwimmer) who winds up romancing Rachel (Jennifer Aniston). On the big screen, Willis was back to being laconic in "Bandits" (2001), playing a prison escapee who robs a number of banks with his hypochondriac partner (Billy Bob Thornton), even though both fall in love with a runaway housewife (Cate Blanchett). Willis was used to better effect as an American P.O.W. presiding over a murder trial in the WWII drama "Hart's War" (2002), then as the leader of a special operations force on a search and rescue mission in the jungles of Africa in "Tears of the Sun" (2003). That year he also voiced the animated canine Spike in "Rugrats Go Wild" and had an unaccredited, nearly unrecognizable cameo in "Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle," the comeback vehicle for friendly ex-wife Moore, before reprising Jimmy the Tulip for the dreadful sequel "The Whole Ten Yards."
He popped up with another cameo appearance, playing himself in "Ocean's 12" (2004), the rather unworthy sequel to the 2001 caper comedy hit. Willis returned to the thriller genre with the Miramax-produced "Hostage" (2005), with a screenplay written by best-selling novelist Robert Crais. In the film, he was a failed LAPD hostage negotiator who, as a suburban police chief, finds himself forced to rely on his old skills to save his estranged family. Though the film had merits, it failed at the box office. He was better served in the highly stylized "Sin City" (2005), Robert Rodriguez's visually arresting adaptation of Frank Miller's crime noir comic book series. In the film's best segment, "That Yellow Bastard," Willis had the plum role of Hartigan, a noble, but world-weary and heart-troubled cop who goes to jail rather than lead the corrupt family of a pedophile to the victim he saved, only to become embroiled again with all of the players in his past.
Returning to animation, Willis voiced the manipulative and opportunistic raccoon, RJ, in DreamWorks' "Over the Hedge" (2005), an amusing though standard comedy about a group of forest critters trying to reclaim a neighboring backyard after waking from their long winter's nap. In "Lucky Number Slevin" (2006), he was a notorious hit man who helps a man (Josh Hartnett) trapped between two crime bosses (Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley). After a small part as a big-wig cattle supplier in "Fast Food Nation" (2006), Willis made a cameo as a retired astronaut who tries to convince a determined farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) not to build his own rocket ship in "The Astronaut Farmer" (2006). Willis returned to leading man status in the well-made popcorn thriller "16 Blocks" (2006), playing a hard-drinking, hard-living New York City cop tasked with transporting a petty criminal (Mos Def) to his grand jury testimony against a corrupt cop (David Morse), only to learn the hard way that the cop wants the witness dead.
Willis made another off-kilter cameo, this time as a macho military fanatic in the "Planet Terror" segment of "Grindhouse" (2007), a compilation of two 90-minute horror flicks from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez that was a throwback to the days of bloody, sex-fueled, low-rent double features that played in seedy 42nd Street theaters in New York City. He then reverted to playing the heavy in "Perfect Stranger" (2007), a dull and lifeless thriller about an investigative reporter (Halle Berry) who poses as a temp at an advertising agency in order to unravel the murder of a friend connected to a powerful ad executive (Willis). Meanwhile, action fans had cause to scream a celebratory "Yippee-ki-yay, motherf*cker!" in the summer with the long-awaited return of hero John McClane in the fourth installment of the "Die Hard" series, "Live Free or Die Hard" (2007). Returning to the signature role he created nearly twenty years earlier, Willis played an older, less resilient John McClane entering middle-age who, when duty calls, would prove that once an action hero, always an action hero. He then played a bearded, overweight parody of himself in "What Just Happened?" (2008), Barry Levinson's satire about a middle-aged Hollywood producer (Robert De Niro) struggling to hold onto the last vestiges of his flagging career.
In March of 2009, Willis married Emma Heming, an English model-actress 23 years his junior. In attendance at the wedding ceremony were his three children, ex-wife Moore and her own much younger husband, actor Ashton Kutcher. Professional flops like the sci-fi thriller "Surrogates" (2009) and the Kevin Smith-directed "Cop Out" (2010) were offset by another box office winner, the action-comedy "Red" (2010). Co-starring such acting luminaries as Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich, the comic book adaptation followed a group of begrudgingly retired C.I.A. operatives blissfully returning to the cloak-and-dagger world of espionage. As well as "Red" had performed in theaters, it was writer-director-star Sylvester Stallone's bloody ensemble action-adventure "The Expendables" (2010) that made fanboys giddy with anticipation over a brief scene that, for the first time ever, united Sly, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Willis on screen. The following year was relatively uneventful for the star, with the direct-to-DVD offerings "Set Up" (2011) and "Catch .44" (2011) comprising his output. One year later, he returned to screens with his biggest release slate in recent memory. Among his half-dozen offerings were such projects as idiosyncratic filmmaker Wes Anderson's coming-of-age tale "Moonrise Kingdom" (2012). A rare non-action role for Willis, it earned him a Best Supporting Male nomination from the Independent Spirit Awards. He also starred in the time-travel thriller from writer-director Rian Johnson, "Looper" (2012). As an added treat, he once more appeared alongside Schwarzenegger and Stallone in the bullet-ridden sequel "The Expendables 2" (2012), this time in a greatly expanded role, which, of course, entailed expending huge amounts of ammunition.
|Brooke Burns. Began dating in August 2003; rumored to be engaged as of April 2004; reportedly split in June 2004|
|Emily Sandberg. Dated in the fall of 2000|
|Demi Moore. Met in August 1987; married in Las Vegas on Nov. 21, 1987; acted together in "Mortal Thoughts" (1991); divorced Oct. 18, 2000; Moore re-married on Sept. 24, 2005 to Ashton Kutcher|
|Emma Heming. Began dating in 2008; married March 21, 2009 in a small, private ceremony at his home in Parrot Cay in the Turks & Caicos Islands|
|Maria Bravo. Spanish; dated from 1999-2000|
|Sheri Rivera. Lived together prior to his marriage to Moore; former wife of Geraldo Rivera|
|Montclair State College, Montclair , New Jersey|
|Penns Grove High School, Penns Grove , New Jersey|
|Co-starred with Rebecca Hall and Catherine Zeta-Jones in comedy feature "Lay the Favorite"; film based on memoir by Beth Raymer|
|Played the older version of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's hit man character in "Looper"|
|Co-starred with Henry Cavill and Sigourney Weaver in action thriller "The Cold Light of Day"|
|Reunited with cast for action sequel "The Expendables 2"|
|Cast as a police officer investigating the disappearance of preteen runaways in Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom"|
|Starred in "Red," an adaption of the comic book miniseries of the same name|
|Appeared in "The Expendables," an 80s-style action adventure about a group of mercenaries; film featured ensemble of action stars including Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, and Arnold Schwarzenegger|
|Teamed with Tracy Morgan for Kevin Smith's buddy cop film "Cop Out"|
|Starred in the film "Surrogates," based on the comic book of the same name|
|Reprised role of John McClane in "Live Free or Die Hard," the fourth installment in the popular 'Die Hard' action franchise|
|Co-starred in Nick Cassavetes' "Alpha Dog," an independent feature about a real-life drug dealer|
|Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (October)|
|Starred as an infamous assassin, opposite Josh Hartnett, in the thriller "Lucky Number Slevin"|
|Co-starred in "Sin City," an adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel; co-directed by Miller and Robert Rodriguez|
|Reprised role as Jimmy 'The Tulip' Tudeski in "The Whole Ten Yards"|
|Had lead in the action thriller, "Tears of the Sun," co-starring Cole Hauser and Monica Bellucci|
|Was executive producer of "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course"|
|Starred alongside Colin Farrell in "Hart's War"|
|Executive produced and starred in the Showtime adaptation of Sam Shepard's play "True West"|
|Co-starred with Billy Bob Thornton and Cate Blanchett in the comedy, "Bandits"|
|With Arnold Rifkin, formed Cheyenne Enterprises|
|Made three-episode guest appearance on the NBC sitcom "Friends" as a love interest for Rachel (Jennifer Aniston)|
|Re-teamed with Shymalan for the film "Unbreakable"|
|Played Jimmy 'The Tulip' Tudeski, a hit man on the lam, in the comedy "The Whole Nine Yards"|
|Played Dwayne Hoover in Alan Rudolph's lackluster "Breakfast of Champions"; Willis bankrolled project with brother David receiving producing credit|
|Played the starring role in M. Night Shymalan's supernatural thriller "The Sixth Sense"|
|Made uncredited guest appearance as a shrink on an episode of Fox's "Ally McBeal"|
|Portrayed U.S. General William Devereaux in Edward Zwick's "The Siege"|
|Played oil driller Harry Stamper in the Michael Bay-directed, "Armageddon"|
|Starred in Luc Besson's sci-fi actioner "The Fifth Element"|
|Played the lead role in Terry Gilliam's "Twelve Monkeys"|
|Reprised his signature role of John McClane in the sequel "Die Hard With a Vengeance"|
|Starred in and helped produce Richard Rush's disappointing "Color of Night"|
|Won critical praise for his supporting turns in Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" and Robert Benton's "Nobody's Fool"|
|Appeared as himself in Robert Altman's "The Player"|
|Cast against type as the milquetoast doctor in "Death Becomes Her"; stepped into role when Kevin Kline dropped out|
|First film with director Alan Rudolph, "Mortal Thoughts"; played a wife-beating bad guy; then-wife Demi Moore co-starred|
|First screen credit as writer (provided story) for "Hudson Hawk"; also co-wrote "The Hudson Hawk Theme"|
|Co-founded Planet Hollywood restaurant franchise along with actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone|
|Again provided the voice of Mikey for the sequel "Look Who's Talking Too"; also co-wrote the song "Daddy's Coming Home"|
|Reprised role of McClane in "Die Hard 2: Die Harder"|
|Won praise for his portrayal of a Vietnam veteran in Norman Jewison's "In Country"|
|Voiced the thoughts of baby Mikey in the feature "Look Who's Talking"|
|Breakthrough film role as John McClane in "Die Hard"|
|First film as producer, "Sunset"; also played the role of Tom Mix; second film with Edwards|
|Made feature film acting debut in Blake Edwards' "Blind Date"|
|Headlined the HBO special "Bruce Willis: The Return of Bruno"|
|Released debut album The Return of Bruno, which included the hit single "Respect Yourself"|
|Debuted as a series regular, playing David Addison opposite Cybill Shepherd, in ABC's "Moonlighting" ; earned Golden Globe (1986, 1988) and Emmy (1986) nominations for Lead Actor in a Drama Series|
|Breakthrough stage role, replaced Ed Harris, in the off-Broadway production of Sam Shepard's "Fool for Love"|
|First screen appearance, an uncredited walk-on, in "The First Deadly Sin"|
|Landed a part in Dennis Watlington's play "Bullpen" and performed in it for four years in various venues|
|Worked as a bartender at NYC restaurants Chelsea Central and Cafe Central and the nightclub Kamikaze|
|Made theater debut in the off-Broadway production of "Heaven and Earth"|
|Formed Night Owl Promotions|