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Cop Out - Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan interview

Bruce Willis in Cop Out

Compiled by Jack Foley

BRUCE Willis and Tracy Morgan talk about playing NYPD partners in Kevin Smith’s new action comedy Cop Out and why they both had such a fun time making it.

They also talk about the numerous comedic inspirations that were behind some of the key comedic moments in the film, as well as how they improvised and why comedy is often one of the hardest things to get right.

Q: What drew you to make a comedy as your next film?
Bruce Willis: If I had a choice, I would do comedy all the time. It’s just the most challenging thing. To make someone laugh is the most challenging thing, and the most rewarding thing, in entertainment.

Q: Why do you think it’s more challenging than drama?
Bruce Willis: That’s a harder question because to be funny, I think you have to commit to the truth of whatever story you’re telling, whether it’s the craziest story you’ve ever heard, whatever that is you have to commit to it, like it really happened, which leads you into doing drama. All you’ve got to do is tell the truth of what’s on the page – yes, my dog left me, and my girlfriend took the dog and I’m just so lonely now. It’s just hard. But it’s much harder to do comedy. It’s the hardest thing in the world.

Q. Can you guys talk about the scenes that did not make it into the car scene?
Bruce Willis: I think most of the car stuff got used. We had a lot of seagulls flying over the car that day and a lot of kids riding next to the car, but the really good stuff stayed in that scene.

Q: Tracy, what did you like about working with Bruce, and Bruce what did you like about working with Tracy?
Tracy Morgan: Well, working with Bruce, first of all, he’s a real cool dude. He’s a real cool dude, man, down to earth. And just going to work every day and telling my friends and my family that I’m working with Bruce Willis was the coolest thing. They didn’t believe it, but now there’s billboards all over the place with me and Bruce like this. That’s self-explanatory, dude. I don’t really have the words to express how; it’s Bruce Willis. I didn’t get a chance to work with Bruce Lee. Bruce Willis, right next to Bruce Lee, baby, you know what I’m sayin’? [Laughs]

Bruce Willis: I went to work every day knowing that I was working with a consummate professional, a truly funny guy that I could count on, that I could throw the ball to and know that he would hit it out of the park. And when you have that kind of confidence in your partner and the guy that you’re working with, you can take risks that you might not normally take.

Tracy Morgan: I feel like when I started working with Bruce it just solidified. I’m not saying I won an Academy Award, but it makes you authentic, you know? It makes your career authentic. My career’s authentic now. I worked with Bruce Willis. I can have that conversation.

Q: Bruce, for you, a movie like this, is it more or less fun when your stunts are intentionally falling down stairs instead of the hero jumps and saves that you do in an action film?
Bruce Willis: Those were my ideas. I just thought: “Wouldn’t it be kind of goofy if I just fell down the stairs here?” And he said: “Yeah, are you going to do that? You want to do that?” And I said: “Yeah, all right. We’ll try it. But just goofy falls and things like that.” Because, look, no stone was left unturned. We looked for every stupid thing that we could possibly do. Everybody was looking for stuff to do. Everybody was looking for it. Once we got going, everybody saw what kind of film we were making. It was really just about entertaining the audience.

Q: How many times did you shoot the scene where one of you steps on the other’s head to put him through the window?
Bruce Willis: That’s an old Three Stooges gag. We stole that from the Stooges. Yeah, we stole from everybody. We stole from Abbott and Costello, from Art Carney and Jackie Gleason. We stole from everyone. We really just dropped the reins. There were very few rules, except a scene can’t go on too long. And there were always, always surprises in there. Tracy comes in the house and we’re trying to run this thing on this guy to get the car, this Russian lawyer.

Tracy Morgan: Fred Armisen.

Bruce Willis: And Tracy comes in and starts doing the Robocop voice, and it’s hysterical. It’s really funny. It just made me laugh. I was laughing off camera.

Tracy Morgan: We’re arguing through like serious moments and we’re arguing…

Q: Kevin Smith said you were all trying to make each other laugh, especially making Bruce laugh. How was that for you?
Bruce Willis: There are scenes, you can see me in the film where I’m just coming back from looking out the window and coming back to the scene, and trying not to laugh. There were a lot of times that we broke up; it wasn’t just me. There were a lot of times you could hear the whole crew laughing because they were all watching the monitors and listening on headphones.

Q: What did both of you see in the script that made you want to do this film? And was Tracy’s character written to be an African American?
Bruce Willis: Cop Out really is a 2010 version of a genre of films that has been around since the ‘40s, really, or the ‘30s gangster films, cop films, all kinds of cop films. I’ve seen a lot of things lately talking about comparing our film to films like Beverly Hills Cop or good cop/bad cop and they always choose to mention that there were racial overtones in those films. And we never gave a thought, not one time, not one day, about if this should have some kind of racial content.

We were having so much fun and getting along so well that there was never any time to ever think about it. On the other hand, I’m really proud of the fact that we’d never felt the need to mention it. We never felt the need to make it about some kind of racial struggle or the fact that we get along so well. And you know, we loved each other so much and we were such good friends that it just wasn’t necessary.

Tracy Morgan: And it’s not what I saw in the script; it’s what I didn’t see. I didn’t see that I’d have to drive nobody around, to call nobody “Miss Daisy.” And I didn’t have to lift any heavy boxes. So I was down. I had to work at Fed Ex. I was good.

Q: How did you both like working with Kevin Smith?
Bruce Willis: Loved it. Loved it.

Tracy Morgan: Yeah, he’s a cool bro. The first time that I met him, I only got to meet him for a few hours the first time, but I got to work with him for 60 days on this one and he’s just like the coolest, down like four flat tires.

Q: Bruce, you’ve been embraced by the New York Police Department. So, I’m wondering now that this is a comedy, what do you think they’ll think of this?
Bruce Willis: I think cops need to laugh more than anybody else in the world. I can’t think of another group of people who work at really hard jobs and who get shot at every night for their jobs, who couldn’t use an opportunity to go out and have a good laugh. I like cops. I like EMT guys. I like emergency room guys, firefighters.

Q: Tracy, you are such a great improviser, what did the writers think of you? Were they intimidated writing for you because you’re so funny?
Tracy Morgan: It was all collaboration, for all of us. We all had one goal in mind. That was to get people to walk out. I mean, I guess my ego’s involved in what I do, but not to the point where a writer can’t write anything for me that’s funny. No, I mean if you write something and it’s on the paper, we did it. We made it our business to do it the way it was written and then we would all get together with Kevin and the writers; the writers were there every day. And if I did something funny, they came up with something even more funny, and then it just evolved into what it is. So, it was all a collaboration. I love that. I think that’s a gift. Not only competition, but a collaboration, and we forget that sometimes, that that’s a gift that God has given us, the ability to collaborate with people. And I love that. I love collaborations.

Read our review

Cop Out is released in UK cinemas on May 21, 2010