A/V Room









Hostage - Bruce Willis Q&A

Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. When did you first become aware of the book, Hostage?
Actually, I wasn't sent it. I bought the book and it sat on my shelf for about a month and then I read it and got caught up in it and read it overnight. I called and asked about the rites to it and fortunately they were available, and that was about four years ago - it's been a four year process to get the film to you guys today.

Q. What got you tingling about it?
It's a really complicated novel. It was a good opportunity for me to make a movie that had some action in it, was a psychological thriller, but wasn't a Bruce Willis movie. Because of the success of a couple of films that I've done, the Die Hard series, Armageddon, things like that, I've saved the world six or seven times now and I think audiences are expecting me to save the day, and this storyline was about a guy who looks like he's going to lose, and the director, Florent Siri, and I worked very hard at constructing a story that had multiple obstacles in it - both emotional, psychological and physiological. Right up to the very end it looks like I'm not going to succeed.

Q. Who's idea to cast your daughter as your daughter?
It was my daughter's idea to ask to be in the film. In year's past, all three of my kids have appeared in films with both their mum and myself. In this instance, I insisted that Rumur come in and audition for the part, I said: "I'm not going to give you this part you are going to earn it." And she came in, auditioned, and got the part.

Q. What impact did it have that it's your daughter being kidnapped, albeit acting?
It just took that whole storyline to a much more emotional level. I think that I got to some places emotionally that I might not have able to get to if I was working with another actress that wasn't my daughter.
All I've got to do is think of any one of my kids being held hostage and you'd have to dry me off (tears). But it is an emotional movie and I think that anyone who has kids can relate to having one of your kids snatched.
The log line of the film is, 'would you sacrifice another family to save your own' which is a difficult dilemma in itself.
Rumur is a tough little kid and has got some acting talent, that scene outside the house... I left alone, I didn't want to direct her, but she brought ideas to it, she didn't overact, she didn't push anything, she knew that the scene outside, less is more, which is a very grown-up acting concept.

Q. What were some of the most demanding scenes? And how did you find the one where you were naked to the waist?
That was demanding from a vanity point of view. When I read the script page after page was 'shirt on, shirt on, shirt on' then 'shirt off', so I had to go and work out because no one wants to look like, and no offence to the guy, the other guy in the van.
But it was a cool idea to have that in the film. The most demanding part was the last three minutes of the opening eight minutes, coming into the house and finding the little boy, that was a difficult night's filming, but that set the bar for what we had to get to at the end of the film. One of the most difficult was the scene in the alley where they opened the back of the van.

Q. You looked in good shape, though...
And it came at quite a price! I turn 50 next month, it was such a cold night, my God. We shot that in Topanga Canyon, in California, where you'd think the weather would be really nice and balmy, which, of course, it wasn't, it was freezing cold and if you look closely my nipples are standing up... please don't write that.

Q. What does Kevin Pollak bring to the film and what attracted him?
I thought he was terrific, he was my idea to have him in the film, not that I'm going to take any real credit for that, he's just a great actor. He's a very funny man, but he gave a very understated non-comedic performance and is crucial to the end of the film.

Q. Aren't you meant to be slowing down at 50?
I hate working out, I really do, and I only work-out for films now. Since I did Hostage, I did Sin City, where again I'm completely naked, hung by the neck, on a glass cocktail table.
It's shot tastefully so the good parts cannot be seen, but hung by the neck and hands tied behind my back like that meant I had to stay in shape, but as soon as that scene was shot I stopped working out, and that was almost a year ago so I've kind of fallen apart since then.

Q. Can your body take Die Hard 4.0?
I did about five days of work on a Nick Cassavetes film called Alpha Dog, and I had to do what 10-15 years ago would have been a really simple stunt. I had to run, to get away from the Feds, and in one move jump over a 6ft concrete wall and hop down the other side and land on the sidewalk. And it's the first time I ever took pause and thought, I could hurt my ankle and be off work.
To make matters worse, the film is based on a true character, (Johnny Truelove), and he was there and Nick said: "Jack, show Bruce how to jump over the wall.'' Which he did perfectly, and it was the first time I had to stop and think about something like that, but jumping off the roof of Nagatomi Towers, those days are done.

Q. Do you still get the same buzz?
Yes I do. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Moonlighting, which kinda kicked all of this off for me, and 20 years is a long time to be famous and 20 years is a long time to still get asked back and I still enjoy being in the juicy Hollywood films and independent films.
I really still love acting, all joking aside, I do believe I'm still learning how to act and I've always said that I thought my best work would come in these years, from 40-60, if I was fortunate enough to still be around.
It is hard to stick around, look at Clint Eastwood, he's been going for 45 years now and it's a good goal to have. But I still enjoy acting and recently I got to work with one of my heroes, a real gentleman, SIR Ben Kingsley, on Lucky Number Slevin, and we had a great chat and he said, 'we're like gladiators. Even if we've just won a battle or got hurt in a battle, we have to suit up and go into the fight again'.
' I've been suiting up for the fight for 20 years, it's a just different suit every time. The real task after 20 years is how do you do something that's different and not something you've done before, and keep it fresh and interesting.

Q. And how do you see the next 10 years?
I'm kind of doing it, I've just shot a film up in Montreal for four weeks and then I've got to go back and do one more day for them and I really enjoy that, not working for three and half, four months.
I enjoy not having a studio say, 'Ok run down the field, we'll throw you the ball' and having to bring the film in.
The director directs the film but they put the actor out front, I'm the one talking to you now, and if it fails, I fail - not the director, or the screenwriter, or the filmmakers, that's the nature of the game.
It's just so much more fun for me as a person and as an actor just to go into a film and do a couple of weeks and play a character.

Q. Has the business of celebrity changed?
You probably see this over here even more than I do in the States, but 10 or 12 years ago some of the tabloid media took a look around and realised that no one was going to stop them from doing what they do.
It's so much more venial, so much more voracious. I don't know if you've been to LA recently, but situations similar to one in which Princess Diana lost her life happen all the time in Los Angeles, not people losing lives, but I've seen near misses and near car accidents many, many times.
The paparazzi there are just out of their minds, they'll cut across four lanes of traffic at 60mph, ad they're organised and there are no boundaries whatsoever.
I wish it were otherwise, and I hate to say these words but it might take an innocent person to be hurt or killed for someone to say, 'you guys have gone too far'.
That's the celebrity part. The acting part of the business has changed a great deal since 9/11. It used to be easy to get films made, there used to be heads of studios that were creative people; but people that run studios now are business people, people who are by and large accountants, who look at the bottom line and run it as a business.
Maybe that's the way it should be but I miss the days when the creative people were in charge and were willing to take a risk.
I'll give you a good example. Do you know how hard it was for Clint Eastwood to get Million Dollar Baby made? Incredibly hard and yet now it's turned out to be the film that it has, everyone's taking credit for it.
Clint Eastwood directing a film, acting in it, with Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank, all Oscar winners, it should have been easier to get that film made, but there is a fear in Hollywood that I've only seen in the last five years, where they are afraid to take a risk on creativity.

Q. Are you going to throw a party for your 50th?
I was going to have a big bash but I've been asked to work on those days to promote Sin City. I think I'm going to be able to squirm out of that, I had my wishlist of musical guests I wanted to invite, I'm told it's going to be a surprise, but I've asked for Tony Bennett, The Allman Brothers, Norah Jones, I'll be satisfied if I get any one of those people, oh and Tom Jones, Tom played at my 40th birthday, just awesome, I'll sing. 50 is the new 40 anyway.
As for presents, it's the same as I say every Christmas. I send my cards out and I say 'as I now own three of every thing on Earth please don't send me any gifts this year, just make a donation to the Foster Care Foundation'.
I don't think I need anything, what I ask for is hand-made gifts, something somebody has gone to the time of making - I appreciate something like that so much more than something I could get myself.

Q. Foster care?
The National Foster Care Fund, is a fund that I started this past Spring because it didn't exist, it's a federal programme in the United States and you would think there would be some kind of fund to help these kids.
My first plan for the Fund was to give these kids scholarships, so they can go to college.
That creates incentives for the kids when they are 9, 10-years-old so that when they reach 18 and age out of the system, hopefully they will have done well enough at school to earn one of these scholarships.
I don't know what the system is here, but it's so much easier in the US to adopt a child from a foreign country than it is from your own.

Q. What do you think of the public perception of Bruce Willis... and do you care?
I don't care, thank you for asking, I've never really paid much attention to that.
I'm from South Jersey, I don't know if you know anyone from South Jersey but I never lost my blue-collar background, I never got caught out in the bullshit of Hollywood, I never became an actor because I wanted to be famous so when it happened I was as surprised as everyone else was.
I'll tell you my little theory on the perception of Bruce Willis. If I meet 50 new people in a year that would be a lot to actually meet someone and become friends with them. Everyone that I don't meet that year, unless they come from Katmandu, everyone that knows who I am has an idea of who they think I am based on the films that I do, the interviews I do, the tabloid stuff that they read, Tv shows, gossip, but what that really is is a holograph of me, that's not who I am as a man or who I am as a father.
Who I am as a man and as a father is far more important to me than the public's perception of whether my work is good or bad.
The audience that I work for is my peers, and there is a network of actors who call each other after they see each other in films. I make those calls as well and that's the audience I take notice of, I don't know, the rest of it, as long as I keep being asked back that's good enough for me.

Q. What do you think of Cybil Shepherd and the rumours about a reunion Moonlighting?
I don't watch TV, I watch movies and sports, but I don't watch the news, haven't done for about 10 years. But I'm told that every time Cybil Shepherd appears on a talk show, she looks into a camera and says 'Bruce, if you're watching, I'd love to do the reunion show'.
And... I just don't think it's going to happen. The good news is the DVDs of the first three series will be out this coming Summer, in May, distributed by Lions Gate. I'm doing the commentary for the first five or six episodes.
But here's what I say about that, in jest - please write I said this with a smile - here's the order of things I would do before the Moonlighting reunion show.
One, I'd be a judge on American Idol; two, I'd be the centre square on Hollywood Squares - 'take Bruce Willis to block please' - and only then would I do the Moonlighting reunion show!
It's been 20 years, 16 since the last episode, and while there was a lot of hubbub and gas at the time, time heals everything and all emotional wounds, and the real truth is that that format, one hour, two character, one camera show is the hardest entertainment format that exists and it was really difficult for Cybil and I.
The first two years of that show there are some episodes that I would put up against anything that has ever appeared on TV.
In those days, you were supposed to do an episode in six days, five and one, five days and one extra day, and we never did an episode in less than nine days and ABC were losing their mind about that, but they were getting a good product and as it caught up with us we had to start doing re-runs, but the first two years of that show were probably the most amazing time of my life.
I'd put those two years up against anything else that's happened to me, just an amazing time, it was a quantum leap for me. I was doing theatre in New York, I'd achieved a level of doing off-Broadway plays in New York and I went out to California to see the Olympics in 1984 and I'd just got an agent in New York and I got to California and I got a call that said 'Hi, we're your Californian agents'.
I didn't even know I had Californian agents, and I said 'Great, what do you want me to do?' And they sent me some things and the second audition that I went in for was Moonlighting.
In those days, Aaron Spelling ran Moonlighting and I wasn't Aaron Spelling leading man material so it took a while for Glenn Caron to convince him that I was right for the part, but by the fifth year it was a grind, we were worn down to the nub and, you know, if I see her now I will give her a hug and say: "How you doing?" And have a chat and we'd probably say, 'God, wasn't that difficult', because it was.
It was a pretty good show for its time and I think I'd prefer to leave it alone and let it retire undefeated.

Q. What do you think of the state of the action movie?
This film solved the puzzle for me. I was widely misquoted about taking a break from action movies, what we call action movies now are what we used to call cowboys and indians movies, and then they were gangster movies, and the World War II movies, Korean war movies and Vietnam war movies, and then cops and robbers; it's just stories about good triumphing over evil, this goes back to the Greeks, Shakespeare wrote about good triumphing over evil, that's what these films are.
When I did the first Die Hard and Mel Gibson did the first Lethal Weapon, those were the modern version of the good guys over bad guys, and over 20 years that kind of got done - I did three of them and Mel did 4 - it kinda got bastardized and I'd get so many thrown my way that I turned down but that got made into films, Die Hard on a Plane - I'm sure you remember the title - Die Hard in the White House, Die Hard in a Delicatessen, and I just got sick of running down the street with a gun in my hand shouting `Noooo'.
So I needed to take a little break. What I also said, which got reported less, was that I thought it was time for the genre to reinvent itself and for the stories to get a little smarter and I think Hostage is a very smart story, so I didn't have any problem doing it and I don't really see it as an action film, I see it more as a psychological thriller.

Q. Can you talk a little bit more about Sin City?
Wait to you see Sin City, it's going to blow your mind. You'll go back and see it three times, it's so good.
Remember how you felt when you saw the first Star Wars and you just thought `How did they do that?' That's how you'll feel when you see Sin City. We shot it in an aircraft hangar that was all green.
I don't know if any of you remember Playhouse 90, they did it in New York in the 60s and it was live with minimal sets and that's what Sin City was like and then they've put everything in digitally and it's just stunning.

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z