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Actors of Legend: Bruce Willis

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Another actor that I don’t think I will have to argue very hard for people to agree that he should make the list of “Actors of Legend” is Bruce Willis. For his memorable roles with Cybil Shepherd in Moonlighting and many people’s favorite

Hollywood is not what it used to be. Hollywood has become overcrowded with so many entertainers that somehow got lucky and made it big due to popularity but not necessarily capability. Looking back on when Hollywood was full of legends who took pride in their work rather than just making a movie for a pay check I would like to nominate my own “Actor’s of Legend.”

Another actor that I don’t think I will have to argue very hard for people to agree that he should make the list of “Actors of Legend” is Bruce Willis. For his memorable roles with Cybil Shepherd in Moonlighting and many people’s favorite wild-card cop in the Die Hard series, Bruce Willis has a long list of greatness.

Willis left New York City and headed to California to audition for several television shows. In 1984, he appeared in an episode of the TV series Miami Vice, titled "No Exit." He auditioned for the role of David Addison Jr. of the television series Moonlighting (1985–89), while competing against 3,000 other actors for the position. The starring role, opposite Cybil Shepherd, helped to establish him as a comedic actor, with the show lasting five seasons. During the height of the show's success, beverage maker Seagram hired Willis as the pitchman for their Golden Wine Cooler products.

The advertising campaign paid the rising star between $5–7 million over two years. In spite of that, Willis chose not to renew his contract with the company when he decided to stop drinking alcohol in 1988. One of his first major film roles was in the 1987 Blake Edwards film Blind Date with Kim Basinger and John Larroquette. Edwards would cast him again to play the real-life cowboy actor Tom Mix in Sunset. However, it was his then-unexpected turn in the film Die Hard that catapulted him to movie star status. He performed most of his own stunts in the film, and the film grossed $138,708,852 worldwide.

Following his success with Die Hard, he had a supporting role in the drama In Country as Vietnam veteran Emmett Smith and also provided the voice for a talking baby in Look Who's Talking, as well as its sequel Look Who's Talking Too. In the late 1980s, Willis enjoyed moderate success as a recording artist, recording an album of pop-blues titled The Return of Bruno, which included the hit single "Respect Yourself", promoted by a Spinal Tap-like rockumentary parody featuring scenes of him performing at famous events including Woodstock. Follow-up recordings were not as successful, though Willis has returned to the recording studio several times.

Willis acquired major personal success and pop culture influence playing John McClane in 1988's Die Hard. This film was followed up by Die Hard 2: Die Harder in 1990 and Die Hard With a Vengeance in 1995. These first three installments in the Die Hard series grossed over US$700 million internationally and propelled Willis to the first rank of Hollywood action stars.

In the early 1990s, Willis's career suffered a moderate slump starring in flops such as The Bonfire of the Vanities, Striking Distance, and a film he co-wrote titled Hudson Hawk, among others. He starred in a leading role in the highly sexualized thriller Color of Night (1994), which was very poorly received by critics, but has become popular on video. However, in 1994, he had a supporting role in Quentin Tarantino's acclaimed Pulp Fiction, which gave a new boost to his career. In 1996, he was the executive producer of the cartoon Bruno the Kid which featured a CGI representation of himself.

He went on to play the lead roles in Twelve Monkeys (1995) and The Fifth Element (1997). However, by the end of the 1990s, his career had fallen into another slump with critically panned films like The Jackal, Mercury Rising, and Breakfast of Champions, saved only by the success of the Michael Bay-directed Armageddon which was the highest grossing film of 1998 worldwide. The same year his voice and likeness were featured in the PlayStation video game Apocalypse.

In 1999, Willis then went on to the starring role in M. Night Shyamalan's film, The Sixth Sense. The film was both a commercial and critical success and helped to increase interest in his acting career. In 2000, Willis won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his work on Friends (in which he played the father of Ross Geller's much-younger girlfriend). He was also nominated for a 2001 American Comedy Award (in the Funniest Male Guest Appearance in a TV Series category) for his work on Friends.

Also in 2000, Willis played Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski inThe Whole Nine Yards alongside Matthew Perry. Willis was originally cast as Terry Benedict in Ocean's Eleven (2001) but dropped out to work on recording an album. In Ocean's Twelve (2004), he makes a cameo appearance as himself. In 2007, he appeared in the Planet Terror half of the double feature Grindhouse as the villain, a mutant soldier.

This marks Willis's second collaboration with director Robert Rodriguez, following Sin City. Willis has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman several times throughout his career. He filled in for an ill David Letterman on his show February 26, 2003, when he was supposed to be a guest. On many of his appearances on the show, Willis stages elaborate jokes, such as wearing a day-glo orange suit in honor of the Central Park gates, having one side of his face made up with simulated buckshot wounds after the Harry Whittington shooting, or trying to break a record (parody of David Blaine) of staying underwater for only twenty seconds.

On April 12, 2007, he appeared again, this time wearing a Sanjaya Malakar wig.

His most recent appearance was on June 25, 2007 when he appeared wearing a mini-turbine strapped to his head to accompany a joke about his own fictional documentary titled An Unappealing Hunch (a word-play of An Inconvenient Truth). Willis also appeared on Japanese Subaru Legacy television commercials. Tying in with this, Subaru did a limited run of Legacy’s, badged "Subaru Legacy Touring Bruce", in honor of Willis.

Willis has appeared in four films with Samuel L. Jackson (National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1, Pulp Fiction, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and Unbreakable) and both actors were slated to work together in Black Water Transit, before dropping out. Willis also worked with his eldest daughter, Rumer, in the 2005 film Hostage.

In 2007, he appeared in the thriller Perfect Stranger, opposite Halle Berry, the crime/drama film Alpha Dog, opposite Sharon Stone, and marked his return to the role of John McClane in Live Free or Die Hard. Recently he appeared in the films What Just Happened and Surrogates, based on the comic book of the same name.

Willis was slated to play U.S. Army general William R. Peers in director Oliver Stone's Pinkville, a drama about the investigation of the 1968 My Lai Massacre. However, due to the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike, the film was cancelled. Willis appeared on the 2008 Blues Traveler album North Hollywood Shootout, giving a spoken word performance over an instrumental blues-rock jam on the track "Free Willis (Ruminations from Behind Uncle Bob's Machine Shop)".

In early 2009, he appeared in an advertising campaign to publicize the insurance company Norwich Union's change of name to Aviva. He also appeared in the music video for the song "I Will Not Bow" by Breaking Benjamin. The song is from his 2009 science fiction film Surrogates. Willis starred with Tracy Morgan in the comedy Cop Out, directed by Kevin Smith and about two police detectives investigating the theft of a baseball card. The film was released in February 2010.

Willis appeared in the music video for the song "Stylo" by Gorillaz. Also in 2010, he appeared in a cameo with former Planet Hollywood co-owners and '80s action stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film The Expendables. Bruce Willis played the role of "Mr. Church". This was the first time these three legendary action stars appeared on screen together. Although the scene featuring the three was short, it was one of the most highly anticipated scenes in the film. The trio filmed their scene in an empty church on October 24, 2009.

His most recent project was Red, an adaptation of the comic book mini-series of the same name, in which he portrayed Frank Moses. The film was released on October 15, 2010. Willis will star in the movie adaptation of the video game Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, named Kane & Lynch. He will also star in the upcoming movies Catch .44, The Cold Light of Day, Moonrise Kingdom, and Looper.

On May 5, 2010, it was announced that Die Hard 5 would be made and that Willis was on board to play his most famous role of John McClane for a fifth time. Sylvester Stallone revealed that he is talking to Willis about returning for The Expendables sequel. Stallone wants to expand Willis' role and that he wants Willis to play the villain in the next Expendables. They have talked about Willis' schedule and possible actors that could join the sequel.

Filming for a new movie, Moonrise Kingdom, starring Bruce Willis alongside Bill Murray, Edward Norton and Frances McDormand, is expected to begin in the first half of 2011. Filming will take place in Rhode Island under the direction of Wes Anderson. Willis will team up with 50 Cent in a new film directed by David Barrett called Fire with Fire, about a fireman who must save the love of his life. Willis will also join Vince Vaughn and Catherine Zeta-Jones in Lay the Favorite, directed by Stephen Frears, about a Las Vegas cocktail waitress who becomes an elite professional gambler. The two films will be distributed by Lionsgate Entertainment.

Willis was born Walter Bruce Willis March 19, 1955 in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany, the son of a Kassel-born German, Marlene, who worked in a bank, and David Willis, an American soldier.

For more information about me as a writer, please check out http://kevin-davison.webnode.com/, http://authorkevincdavison.blogspot.com/, and http://write-for-a-cause.blogspot.com/.

Article by Kevin C Davison

“I write to entertain, and for a cause.”

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