Red - Bruce Willis interview
Interview by Rob Carnevale
BRUCE Willis talks about the appeal of filming Red alongside co-stars such as Mary Louise Parker and John Malkovich and why he has no intention of giving up action movies yet.
He also discusses the strong possibility of Die Hard 5 and The Expendables 2 and why singing is very much in the past.
Q. Red is an action movie, a caper flick as well as a love story between Frank and Sarah. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Bruce Willis: I wish there were more of that story in the movie. Yes, it was big fun. Mary Louise [Parker] makes me laugh. She’s very funny. It was an ambitious script. There were a lot of things in this film: action, funny things, funny people, a big spectacular cast, romance… who knew it was all gonna stay in the movie? [Laughs]? But I liked the romance in it. We were continually asked to keep the romance as chaste as we possibly could and I think we did a great job of that.
Q. Helen Mirren has admitted she had a crush on you when she was younger. How do you feel about Helen?
Bruce Willis: I’m a big fan of Helen Mirren’s and I’m very flattered that she has a crush on me. I’ll try not to blush… and I have! It’s a high compliment to be told that someone I’m such a fan of has a crush on me.
Q. And how was she to work with?
Bruce Willis: Great… great. A remarkable thing happened in this film and it doesn’t happen on a lot of movies… not by anyone’s choice and not by any plan, we ended up with a lot of movie stars and great actors and actresses in this film. No one planned on it… people just started showing up. Once you get started, you just couldn’t say no to anyone… It was like Christmas. Once every four days or so a new movie star would show up to work with us. Richard Dreyfuss, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich was hanging around with us for a while. Ernest Borgnine. Did I say Morgan Freeman? Good! Karl Urban. Did I say Morgan Freeman? [Laughs] Morgan said he would give me money if I mentioned his name three times, so that’s done. So, it was big fun and we fooled around a lot. We laughed and joke and ate food that was great and just made a movie in there somewhere!
Q. What were your standout days while making this film? Were there on-screen moments you consider to be highlights?
Bruce Willis: There were days when I would rush into work, when I just couldn’t wait to get there, and that doesn’t always happen – it seldom happens I’d say. It was all fun, all the time. This was a really complicated story and a complicated script… ambitious in what we were trying to get into a 90-minute film but Robert Schwentke packed it all in and got all those things in there. So, all those things worked and seemed to come together. I really enjoyed working with Mary Louise Parker. I didn’t know that my side of the romance was going to be so nebbish… so pathetic. I thought maybe they could spice it up in editing. I think it’s a nice romance and a throwback to not being cynical about love maybe… but fun.
Q. Sylvester Stallone has said, while promoting The Expendables, that he wasn’t intending to give up action roles anytime soon because that’s what audiences want from him. Does the same apply for you?
Bruce Willis: I think so. I haven’t considered not working, or not doing it. The fight scene that I do with Karl Urban in this film was really physical. I didn’t give it any thought going into the film other than we wanted to make the fight scene look good, and contact was made. But it looks good. It was a longer fight scene than you see in the film, but it looks violent and I don’t bounce as high off things anymore. But I’ve never thought about stopping yet, so we’ll see.
Q. So when you say contact was made, did it hurt?
Bruce Willis: Well, I think we both got a little roughed up. But the trick is to try and stay safe and be able to go to work the next day.
Q. Did you meet any former Secret Service guys as part of your research for this and did you find out anything you weren’t expecting?
Bruce Willis: Yes, and I actually took what the guy was saying as gospel. I think he was trying to scare us and tell us how bad things were in the United States, but most actors know exactly how bad things are in the United States. And just about everything he said was what I had already believed about the government to be true. Do you like politics? Do you like it when the politicians lie to you? No, it gets a pain in the arse. But yeah, I got some information that kind of corroborated what I was thinking about the government, how it works, and how things fall in the cracks.
Q. Would you care to share?
Bruce Willis: I’m trying to think of what I could share with you… well, yes, that I’d think pretty much what you think about secret agencies and secret police organisations… they’re all over the place and they’re still in existence and they do the terrible and horrible things that sometimes you want them to do and sometimes that you don’t want them to do. But they’re still doing it; it’s not like they’re not doing it. If I don’t make it to the premiere tonight, it’s because of that question [laughs]!
Q. There’s a line in the movie where Mary’s character says it’s not the best first date she’s been on, but not the worst either. So, can you give any examples of your best or worst first dates?
Bruce Willis: Well, the worst first dates are the ones when you know it’s over in about the first 10 or 15 minutes and then you have to stay there for the rest of the evening. This was way before cell phones, so you couldn’t call someone and say: “In 15 minutes, call my phone and tell me someone’s been arrested.” But I’m not dating anymore, so thank goodness that’s over with.
Q. On the theme of dating, when your daughters start dating does the fact that dad’s a major Hollywood action star ensure good behaviour?
Bruce Willis: I thought so. I thought I was going to have the opportunity to start throwing these young kids around, or standing them up against the wall and questioning them, but my children just destroyed that notion when they said: “Leave him alone! Stop it, you’re embarrassing us!” And then the next thing you know, they’re all in the pool whooping it up. I’m so archaic when it comes to that… I’d like to think of myself as old fashioned but there’s no place for it with my three daughters. They just say that they don’t understand what the dating rule is.
Q. Will there be a Die Hard 5?
Bruce Willis: That’s the word. I know a script is being written. So, yes, I would do it.
Q. Isn’t it your idea?
Bruce Willis: Some of it, yes.
Q. Red and the aforementioned The Expendables seem to have to rely on you more mature guys to deliver fun, old fashioned action thrillers. Why do you think we’re not finding the equivalent young action stars? James Bond is on hold… is it such a niche to get popular action stars?
Bruce Willis: It’s not like they’re not looking for the next new thing. But I think James Bond is a good example of that. I really like Daniel Craig and I really like his work. He completely got me off of the old James Bonds, which – except for Sean Connery – they all kind of… I was just waiting for somebody new to come along and he’s doing great. It’s just part of the thing that I was talking about earlier… the fear of pulling the trigger sometimes on films. But I think they are looking for young guys all the time… and new guys and tough guys. It’s a difficult process to make somebody be liked. I don’t think anyone ever wants to be told to start liking this person. You like them because you like them, or you don’t. But I loved The Expendables and I loved everybody in it… Jason Statham, oh man, he’s great. Awesome.
Q. Would you come back for The Expendables 2?
Bruce Willis: Yes.
Q. Is there anything you’ve done over the years that you’d like to go back and do better? And how about the singing?
Bruce Willis: Oh there’s maybe a good dozen films that I would just like to strike off the list and taken them out of rotation [laughs].
Q. Such as?
Bruce Willis: Well, you’ve seen them. You know which ones suck… and which are OK.
Q. And how about singing?
Bruce Willis: Over now… I’m retired [laughs]. I never really called myself a singer and for a good reason. I used to shout in key. That was about as close as I ever got. I liked to think of myself as a singer but there are other people that really are singers that do it a lot better than I ever did. I was just fooling around.
Q. Is there anything different between your first marriage and your second marriage? Do you do things differently second time around?
Bruce Willis: I don’t know if I’m doing anything differently. I think I’ve become a nicer person over the years and I don’t take things that I used to think were so serious as seriously. I fool around more and try to laugh more.
Q. Do you think that Hollywood is changing in the way that it treats older actors? Are scripts getting more interesting?
Bruce Willis: I don’t know if it’s changing. I used to watch movies when I was a kid and they were all older tough guys. I knew when I was doing Moonlighting and TV that the most fun films would be when I got into my 40s and became older. That there would be more things to do and more colours other than making that face I made on Moonlighting. I had a good time then but I always wanted to do other things that I just wasn’t ready to do until I was older.
Red is released in UK cinemas on Friday, October 22, 2010.
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Bruce Willis interview
- Mary Louise Parker interview
- RED sequel greenlit
- Red Photo Gallery