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Bruce Willis was born in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany, on March 19, 1955.
Bruce Willis plays the role of John McClane in the action thriller Die Hard series. John McClane is a skeptical but good-natured New York City police detective.
Bruce Willis made his Broadway debut in an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Misery in 2015. Willis portrayed a writer held captive by an obsessed fan.
Bruce Willis, in full Walter Bruce Willis, (born March 19, 1955, Idar-Oberstein, West Germany), American actor best known for his performances in blockbuster action films, particularly the Die Hard series.
Willis was born in West Germany, where his father was stationed at an American military base, and the family moved to New Jersey in 1957. After high-school graduation he took a series of odd jobs before studying theatre at Montclair State College (later Montclair State University). He dropped out of college and moved to New York City, where he began his acting career with Off-Broadway roles and appearances in television commercials.
Willis had a number of small film roles in the early 1980s before he was hired as a wisecracking detective opposite Cybill Shepherd in the television sitcom Moonlighting (1985–89). The show made Willis a household name and helped to launch his film career. In the action thriller Die Hard (1988), Willis portrayed the cynical but good-natured New York City police detective John McClane, who finds himself embroiled in a terrorist attack on a Los Angeles office building. The film was a major box-office success and helped establish Willis as a leading action hero. It also spawned the sequels Die Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Live Free or Die Hard (2007), and A Good Day to Die Hard (2013).
Willis took roles in a number of violent and darkly comedic films, including Pulp Fiction (1994), in which he played a professional boxer who double-crosses a mobster after agreeing to throw a fight; 12 Monkeys (1995), about a convict sent back in time to investigate a virus that devastated humankind; and The Fifth Element (1997), a visually impressive science-fiction action film. While he continued to act in large-budget action films—including Armageddon (1998) and Tears of the Sun (2003)—Willis also appeared in comedies, including The Whole Nine Yards (2000). In 1999 he starred in The Sixth Sense as a psychologist who counsels a child who claims to see dead people. The drama, which was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, was a critical and commercial success. Willis reteamed with Shyamalan on the supernatural thriller Unbreakable (2000).
Willis’s subsequent films included the stylized Sin City (2005), which was adapted from Frank Miller’s graphic novel series; the thriller 16 Blocks (2006); and the buddy comedy Cop Out (2010). He also appeared in the action franchises Red (2010, 2013), as a retired CIA agent, and The Expendables (2010, 2012), as an active one. The latter series brought together several aging stars of the genre. Among Willis’s other roles in 2012 were a lonely cop in the whimsical Moonrise Kingdom, a time-traveling hit man in the sci-fi thriller Looper, and a professional gambler in the comedy-drama Lay the Favorite. G.I. Joe: Retaliation, released the following year, provided another rugged action role for the prolific actor. In 2014 Willis reprised his Sin City role in the sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. He played a mercenary in Barry Levinson’s musical comedy Rock the Kasbah (2015) and a kidnapped former spy in the action flick Extraction (2015).
Willis later starred in the 2018 remake of Death Wish, a 1974 action film about a father who becomes a vigilante after his family is attacked. In Glass (2019) he reprised his role as a security guard/superhero from Unbreakable. His other films from 2019 included the comedy Between Two Ferns and Motherless Brooklyn, a crime drama set in the 1950s. Over the next several years he starred in a string of action movies that included Breach (2020), Out of Death (2021), and A Day to Die (2022).
Willis made his Broadway debut in 2015, appearing in an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Misery; he portrayed a writer held captive by an obsessed fan.
In 2022 it was announced that Willis was “stepping away from his career” after he was diagnosed with aphasia, a disorder that impairs the expression and comprehension of language.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen.
Biography Bruce Willis / Биография Брюса Уиллиса
Walter Bruce Willis (born March 19, 1955) is an American actor, producer, and musician. His career began in television in the 1980s, most notably as David Addison in Moonlighting (1985–1989) and has continued both in television and film since, including comedic, dramatic, and action roles. He is well known for the role of John McClane in the Die Hard series, which were mostly critical and uniformly financial successes. He has also appeared in over sixty films, including box office successes like Pulp Fiction (1994), 12 Monkeys (1995), The Fifth Element (1997), Armageddon (1998), The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000), Sin City (2005), Looper (2012) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012).
Motion pictures featuring Willis have grossed US$2.64 billion to 3.05 billion at North American box offices, making him the ninth highest-grossing actor in a leading role and twelfth highest including supporting roles. He is a two-time Emmy Award–winning, Golden Globe Award–winning and four-time Saturn Award–nominated actor. Willis was married to actress Demi Moore and they had three daughters before their divorce in 2000, following thirteen years of marriage. He is currently married to model Emma Heming, with whom he has one daughter Early life An army brat, Willis was born in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany. His father, David Willis, was an American soldier. His mother, Marlene K., was German, and had been born in Kaufungen, near Kassel.
Willis is the oldest of four children: he has a sister, Florence, and a brother, David. His brother Robert died of pancreatic cancer in 2001, aged 42. After being discharged from the military in 1957, Willis’s father took his family back to Carneys Point, New Jersey. Willis has described himself as having come from a «long line of blue collar people»; his mother worked in a bank and his father was a welder, master mechanic, and factory worker. Willis attended Penns Grove High School in his hometown, where he encountered issues with a stutter. He was nicknamed Buck-Buck by his schoolmates.
Finding it easy to express himself on stage and losing his stutter in the process, Willis began performing on stage and his high school activities were marked by such things as the drama club and student council president. After high school, Willis took a job as a security guard at the Salem Nuclear Power Plant and also transported work crews at the DuPont Chambers Works factory in Deepwater, New Jersey. After working as a private investigator (a role he would play in the television series Moonlighting as well as in the 1991 film, The Last Boy Scout), Willis returned to acting. He enrolled in the drama program at Montclair State University, where he was cast in the class production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Willis left school in his junior year and moved to New York City, where in the early 1980s he supported himself as a bartender at the West 19th Street art bar Kamikaze. After multiple auditions, Willis made his theater debut in the off-Broadway production of Heaven and Earth. He gained more experience and exposure in Fool for Love, and in a Levi’s commercial. Willis also played a lead role in the off-Broadway production Bullpen for four years which was written and directed by Dennis Watlington that was also presented at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater.
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». In 1985 he was the guest actor in the first episode of The Twilight Zone (1985 TV series), «Shatterday». He auditioned for the role of David Addison Jr. of the television series Moonlighting (1985–89), competing against 3,000 other actors for the position.The starring role, opposite Cybill 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. Willis made his film debut in the 1987 Blake Edwards film Blind Date, with Kim Basinger and John Larroquette. Edwards cast him again to play the real-life cowboy actor Tom Mix in Sunset (1988). However, it was his then-unexpected turn in the film Die Hard (1988) as John McClane 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. He released a version of the Drifters song «Under The Boardwalk» as a follow-up, which got to number 2 in the UK Top 40, though was less successful in the USA. Willis returned to the recording studio several times afterwards. (See Discography below.)
Willis acquired major personal success and pop culture influence playing John McClane in 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 erotic thriller Color of Night (1994): another box office failure, it was savaged by critics but did well in the home video market and became one of the Top 20 most-rented films in the United States in 1995. 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 in The 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-turban strapped to his head to accompany a joke about his own fictional documentary titled An Unappealing Hunch (a wordplay of An Inconvenient Truth).
Willis also appeared on Japanese Subaru Legacy television commercials. Tying in with this, Subaru did a limited run of Legacys, 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. Subsequently, 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.
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. 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.
Willis next starred in Red, an adaptation of the comic book mini-series of the same name, in which he portrays Frank Moses. The film was released on October 15, 2010. Willis starred alongside Bill Murray, Edward Norton, and Frances McDormand in Moonrise Kingdom (2012). Filming took place in Rhode Island under the direction of Wes Anderson, in 2011. Willis returned, in an expanded role, in The Expendables 2 (2012). He appeared alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the sci-fi action film, Looper (2012), as the older version of Gordon-Levitt’s character, Joe. Willis teamed up with 50 Cent in a film directed by David Barrett called Fire with Fire, starring opposite Josh Duhamel and Rosario Dawson, about a fireman who must save the love of his life. Willis also joined 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 were distributed by Lionsgate Entertainment. Willis reprised his most famous role, John McClane, for a fifth time, starring in A Good Day to Die Hard, which was released on February 14, 2013. In an interview, Willis said, «I have a warm spot in my heart for Die Hard…it’s just the sheer novelty of being able to play the same character over 25 years and still be asked back is fun. It’s much more challenging to have to do a film again and try to compete with myself, which is what I do in Die Hard. I try to improve my work every time.»
Willis will star in the movie adaptation of the video game Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, named Kane & Lynch.
Willis owns property in Los Angeles, rents an apartment in the Trump Tower in New York City, and Trump Place, as well as a home in Malibu, California, a ranch in Montana, a beach home on Parrot Cay in Turks and Caicos, and multiple properties in Sun Valley, Idaho. In 2000 Willis, with his business partner Arnold Rifkin, started a motion picture production company called Cheyenne Enterprises. He left the company to be run solely by Rifkin in 2007 after Live Free or Die Hard. He also owns several small businesses in Hailey, Idaho, including The Mint Bar and The Liberty Theater and is a co-founder of Planet Hollywood, with actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. In 2009 Willis signed a contract to become the international face of Belvedere SA’s Sobieski Vodka in exchange for 3.3% ownership in the company.
Willis’ acting role models are Gary Cooper, Robert De Niro, Steve McQueen, and John Wayne.
Marriages and family
At the premiere for the film Stakeout, Willis met actress Demi Moore. Willis married Moore on November 21, 1987 and had three daughters: Rumer Willis (b. 1988), Scout LaRue Willis (b. 1991) and Tallulah Belle Willis (b. 1994) before the couple divorced on October 18, 2000. The couple gave no public reason for their breakup. Regarding the divorce, Willis stated, «I felt I had failed as a father and a husband by not being able to make it work.» He credited actor Will Smith for helping him cope with the situation. After their breakup, rumors persisted that the couple planned to re-marry, until Demi Moore married Ashton Kutcher. Willis has maintained a close relationship with both Moore and Kutcher, even attending their wedding. Willis was engaged to actress Brooke Burns until they broke up in 2004 after ten months together. He married model Emma Heming in Turks and Caicos on March 21, 2009; guests included his three daughters, Demi Moore, and Ashton Kutcher. The ceremony was not legally binding, so the couple wed again in a civil ceremony in Beverly Hills, six days later. The couple have one daughter, Mabel Ray Willis, born in 2012. (3 votes, average: 4,67 out of 5)
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|Born||March 19, 1955 in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany|
|Birth Name||Walter Bruce Willis|
|Height||6′ (1,83 m)|
Mini Bio (1)
Actor and musician Bruce Willis is well known for playing wisecracking or hard-edged characters, often in spectacular action films. Collectively, he has appeared in films that have grossed in excess of $2.5 billion USD.
Walter Bruce Willis was born on March 19, 1955, in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany, to a German mother, Marlene Kassel, and an American father, David Andrew Willis (from Carneys Point, New Jersey), who were then living on a United States military base. His family moved to the U.S. shortly after he was born, and he was raised in Penns Grove, New Jersey, where his mother worked at a bank and his father was a welder and factory worker. Willis picked up an interest for the dramatic arts in high school, and was allegedly «discovered» whilst working in a café in New York City and then appeared in a couple of off-Broadway productions. While bartending one night, he was seen by a casting director who liked his personality and needed a bartender for a small movie role.
After countless auditions, Willis contributed minor film appearances, usually uncredited, before landing the role of private eye «David Addison» alongside sultry Cybill Shepherd in the hit romantic comedy television series Детективное агентство ‘Лунный свет’ (1985). His sarcastic and wisecracking P.I. is seen by some as a dry run for the role of hard-boiled NYC detective «John McClane» in the monster hit Крепкий орешек (1988), in which Willis’ character single-handedly battled a gang of ruthless international thieves in a Los Angeles skyscraper. He reprised the role of McClane in the sequel, Крепкий орешек 2 (1990), set at a snowbound Washington’s Dulles International Airport as a group of renegade Special Forces soldiers seek to repatriate a corrupt South American general. Excellent box office returns demanded a further sequel Крепкий орешек 3: Возмездие (1995), this time co-starring Samuel L. Jackson as a cynical Harlem shop owner unwittingly thrust into assisting McClane during a terrorist bombing campaign on a sweltering day in New York.
Willis found time out from all the action mayhem to provide the voice of «Mikey» the baby in the very popular family comedies Уж кто бы говорил (1989), and its sequel Уж кто бы говорил 2 (1990) also starring John Travolta and Kirstie Alley. Over the next decade, Willis starred in some very successful films, some very offbeat films and some unfortunate box office flops. Костёр тщеславий (1990) and Гудзонский ястреб (1991) were both large scale financial disasters that were savaged by the critics, and both are arguably best left off the CVs of all the actors involved, however Willis was still popular with movie audiences and selling plenty of theatre tickets with the hyper-violent Последний бойскаут (1991), the darkly humored Смерть ей к лицу (1992) and the mediocre police thriller На расстоянии удара (1993).
During the 1990s, Willis also appeared in several independent and low budget productions that won him new fans and praise from the critics for his intriguing performances working with some very diverse film directors. He appeared in the oddly appealing Норт (1994), as a cagey prizefighter in the Quentin Tarantino directed mega-hit Криминальное чтиво (1994), the Terry Gilliam directed apocalyptic thriller 12 обезьян (1995), the Luc Besson directed sci-fi opus Пятый элемент (1997) and the M. Night Shyamalan directed spine-tingling epic Шестое чувство (1999).
Willis next starred in the gangster comedy Девять ярдов (2000), worked again with «hot» director M. Night Shyamalan in the less than gripping Неуязвимый (2000), and in two military dramas, Война Харта (2002) and Слёзы солнца (2003) that both failed to really fire with movie audiences or critics alike. However, Willis bounced back into the spotlight in the critically applauded Frank Miller graphic novel turned movie Город грехов (2005), the voice of «RJ» the scheming raccoon in the animated hit Лесная братва (2006) and «Die Hard» fans rejoiced to see «John McClane» return to the big screen in the high tech Крепкий орешек 4.0 (2007) aka «Die Hard 4.0».
Willis was married to actress Demi Moore for approximately thirteen years and they share custody to their three daughters.