Walter Bruce Willis, better known as Bruce Willis, is a talented television and movie actor famous for portraying versatile roles. While he shot to fame with his portrayal of David Addison Jr. in the television series ‘Moonlighting,’ he is better known for his action and dramatic roles in films like ‘Die Hard’ and ‘The Sixth Sense.’ As a youngster, he had a stuttering problem and took to stage performances in order to overcome this issue. Coming from a family of blue-collar workers, he took up a number of menial jobs before venturing into professional acting. After going through a period as a struggling actor, he finally landed his first gig in an off-Broadway production of ‘Heaven and Earth.’ He made his entry into television by winning the role of David Addison Jr. in the series ‘Moonlighting’ after competing against 3000 other contenders. Soon, the ambitious actor got his lead role in ‘Blind Date.’ However, it was his portrayal of John McClane in ‘Die Hard’ that catapulted him to superstardom. Today, the multiple-award-winning actor is not just one of the highest-grossing performers in Hollywood, but also one of the much sought after. The actor also tried his hand at singing and released a pop-blues album called ‘The Return of Bruno’ which enjoyed moderate success.
Childhood & Early Life
Bruce Willis was born on March 19, 1955, in Idar-Oberstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, West Germany, to David Willis and Marlene K. His father was an American soldier and his mother Marlene was German. He has three younger siblings – two brothers and a sister.
After being discharged from the army in 1957, his father settled in New Jersey and worked as a welder and mechanic, while his mother worked in a bank.
He went to ‘Penns Grove High School.’ He had a stuttering problem which he overcame by performing on stage. A popular student, Willis was elected as the student council president.
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He took up menial jobs after high school which included a stint as a security guard at the ‘Salem Nuclear Power Plant’ and as a private investigator.
He enrolled at ‘Montclair State University’ to study drama. However, he dropped out during his junior year to pursue his acting career in New York City.
Apart from his high school and university education, Willis attended a theatre program for three years at the ‘Stella Adler Conservatory’ in New York.
After struggling to find work, he finally got a chance to perform in the off-Broadway production ‘Heaven and Earth’ in 1977. More stage appearances followed, including a lead role in ‘Bullpen.
Following his success on stage, he auditioned for the role of David Addison in the television series ‘Moonlighting.’ He beat 3000 other contenders to win the role. The series ran from 1985 to 1989 and made Willis a star.
He got his first lead role in 1987 in the romantic comedy ‘Blind Date.’ The movie was a financial success, even though it received mostly negative reviews.
He received his big breakthrough the movie ‘Die Hard’ in 1988. He played police officer John McClane in the film which went on to become a huge hit and established him as an action hero.
He reprised his role as John McClane in the 1990 movie ‘Die Hard 2’ which outdid its predecessor in terms of commercial as well as critical success.
His success as an actor took a beating when he starred in a string of flop movies in the early-1990s. These movies include ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’ (1990), ‘Hudson Hawk’ (1991), and ‘Color of Night’ (1994).
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He bounced back with the black comedy and crime film ‘Pulp Fiction’ in 1994. His portrayal of Butch Coolidge in the film resurrected his acting career.
In 1998, he starred in ‘Armageddon’ which became the highest-grossing film of the year. Along with Willis, the film’s cast included Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Owen Wilson, and Keith David.
In 2000, he appeared as Paul Stevens in three episodes of the television sitcom ‘Friends.’ His role in the series earned him much appreciation and an ‘Emmy Award.’
He went on to act in a number of films, including ‘Unbreakable’ (2000), ‘Hostage’ (2005), ‘Live Free or Die Hard’ (2007), and ‘Surrogates’ (2009).
His other major movies include ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ (2012), ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ (2013), and ‘RED 2’ (2013).
An established action hero, Willis took up several roles in the late-2010s and appeared in movies like ‘Extraction’ (2015), ‘Marauders’ (2016), ‘First Kill’ (2017), ‘Death Wish’ (2018), and ‘Reprisal’ (2018).
In 2019, Bruce Willis starred in the last instalment of M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Unbreakable’ trilogy movie ‘Glass,’ alongside James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sarah Paulson. Though the movie was panned by the critics, it was a huge box-office hit.
He played a private detective in the television comedy drama ‘Moonlighting’ which not only showcased his acting skills to the world but also won him numerous awards and nominations.
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His role as police officer John McClane in ‘Die Hard,’ which established him as an action hero, made him highly popular as an actor. The movie was a super hit and spawned five sequels—all of which had Willis reprising the same role.
Awards & Achievements
He won the ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ for ‘Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series’ in 1987 for his role in the television series ‘Moonlighting.’ He also won ‘The Golden Globe Award’ for ‘Best Actor – Television Series Comedy’ for the same role.
He was given the ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ for ‘Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series’ in 2000 for his role as Paul Stevens in the popular sitcom ‘Friends.’
He was awarded ‘Office of the Order of Arts and Letters’ by the French government in April 2005.
Personal Life & Legacy
Willis and actress Demi Moore got married in 1987 and had three daughters, namely Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah. Willis and Moore got divorced in 2000.
He married a model named Emma Heming in 2009. Willis and Heming are blessed with two daughters, namely Evelyn Penn and Mabel Ray.
He was a frequent guest on the ‘Late Show with David Letterman.’
He wears his watch upside down, a trend that can be noted in some of his films too.