The Film: Willis’ second foray into family-friendly fare after the Look Who’s Talking movies – and one that had him trussed up in a pink bunny suit. A young Elijah Wood plays North, who searches the globe for parents who actually care about him.
Willis Genius: Like Bill Murray’s Garfield gig, Willis wears the bunny suit with all the sardonic wit of a guy who’s quite happy laughing at himself.
Breakfast Of Champions (1999)
The Film: Car dealership owner Dwayne Hoover (Willis) is on the brink of suicide in this eccentric comedy, which follows a group of people in a small mid-western town.
Willis Genius: Willis takes on a dramatic role in an attempt to move away from action. He’s hampered slightly by a role that doesn’t go anywhere interesting, but it’s an admirable attempt nonetheless.
Look Whos Talking Too (1990)
The Film: Baby-talk follow-up to Look Who’s Talking , with John Travolta and Kirstie Alley returning as the parents whose kids talk like adults – except only the audience can hear them.
Willis Genius: Voicing baby Mikey (now a toddler), Willis exercises those caramel vocal chords to brilliant effect. We’ve got a soft spot for the films, and most of that’s because of Willis’ dry delivery.
Charlies Angels: Full Throttle (2003)
The Film: Another follow-up, this one to McG’s successful (at least financially) TV adap. The angels are back attempting to foil another convoluted bad guy’s plan – this time going up against the evil (and seriously sexy) Demi Moore.
Willis Genius: Need a Hollywood heavyweight to kill off in your film’s opening few minutes? Give Willis a call! No doubt involved because ex-wife Moore was playing the film’s villain, Willis puts in a blink-and-miss-him appearance.
Color Of Night (1994)
The Film: Raunchy thriller. Bill Capa (Willis) is a colour-blind therapist who gets romantically involved with a young woman (Jane March). Meanwhile, he’s being stalked by a killer who may have already murdered his therapist friend.
Willis Genius: The film’s most famous as a showcase for some very steamy encounters between Willis and March, though it’s also Willis’ attempt to prove he can be more than just an action man. That he struggles to do so here is more down to the weak scripting than anything else.
The Bonfire Of The Vanities (1990)
The Film: Sherman McCoy (Tom Hanks) has his life turned upside-down when his wife knocks over a black boy with her car. Enter Peter Fallow (Willis), a journalist who turns the story into a massive national scandal.
Willis Genius: Willis basically smirks his way through his role as Fallow, not quite sure if he should play him as smarmy or bored. The result is an odd little performance that’s worth seeing just for its weirdness.
The Whole Ten Yards (2004)
The Film: Rickety follow-up to The Whole Nine Yards , in which Tulip (Willis) has his tranquil life thrown for a loop when Oz’s (Matthew Perry) wife is kidnapped by Hungarians. It’s up to Tulip and his wife (Amanda Peet) to get her back.
Willis Genius: The joke’s wearing thin in this less-than-spectacular sequel, but Willis is still on fine, droll form, showing the young ‘uns how it’s done.
Hudson Hawk (1991)
The Film: Ex-con Eddie Hawkins (Willis) is determined to live a decent life after being released from prison. Making that impossible is a couple who demand that he steal a Da Vinci for them, or they’ll off his best buddy.
Willis Genius: Hudson Hawk tanked massively at the box office – clearly nobody was ready to see Willis go from bruiser to showtune crooner. Time has been kind to the film, though, and Willis’ performance holds up as a little-seen curio.
Perfect Stranger (2007)
The Film: Journalist Rowena Price (Halle Berry) investigates the murder of a childhood friend. Her prime suspect? Harrison Hill (Willis), a former beau of her dead friend.
Willis Genius: Soft-spoken and insidious, Willis plays around with his character’s ambiguities. The film’s not exactly celebrated as cinema’s finest achievement, but Willis does the best he can with the material.
Mortal Thoughts (1991)
The Film: Cynthia Kellogg (Demi Moore) asks her police friend for help when her best friend’s husband James (Willis) turns up dead. Through flashbacks, we find out just how nasty James was. Maybe he deserved to die…
Willis Genius: Willis plays a right bastard here – an abusive bully who spends all of his free time beating on his wife. It’s a brave move to go so unspeakably evil, but Willis does it with aplomb.
Cop Out (2010)
The Film: Kevin Smith’s much-panned comedy thriller, originally entitled A Couple Of Dicks . Willis plays veteran NYPD cop, whose prize baseball card is stolen. He enlists the help of his partner Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan) to help him track it down.
Willis Genius: It’s a testament to Willis that even though the material stinks, he still gets in a few funny moments. Of, course, compared to a constantly jabbering Morgan, he’s a model of restraint.
The Film: Willis teams up with James Garner to play an actor who’s attempting to solve a murder at the 1929 Academy Awards.
Willis Genius: Released the same year as the first Die Hard , Sunset has Willis having an early stab at the old ‘independent lawman’ routine. Clearly he did something right.
Blind Date (1987)
The Film: Workaholic Walter Davis (Willis) needs a date to impress a Japanese client, whom he’s taking out for dinner. When his brother’s wife suggests Nadia (Kim Basinger), she offers a word of warning: if Nadia gets pissed, she’s likely to go a bit mental.
Willis Genius: Call it Moonlighting on the big screen. Shot while Willis was making that massively popular crime comedy series, Blind Date is basically an extension of that, with Willis playing up the cutesy romantic lead schtick.
Look Whos Talking (1989)
The Film: Amy Heckerling’s comedy, in which a cab driver (John Travolta) and an accountant (Kirstie Alley) end up having a baby together. We hear that baby’s thoughts thanks to Willis, who voices not only the sperm, but also the newborn tot.
Willis Genius: No idea why a baby would sound like Bruce Willis, but the actor pulls it off almost despite the cringe-y premise. It’s most fun to pretend here's merely narrating his own home movies.
Striking Distance (1993)
The Film: Det. Tom Hardy (Willis) comes to loggerheads with his uncle after his father is killed. When Hardy accuses somebody on the force of killing dead papa, he’s demoted and taunted by the real killer.
Willis Genius: He’s back playing another cop (as he would through much of the ‘90s), but Willis boasts fantastic banter with Dennis Farina, which enlivens proceedings somewhat.
The Story Of Us (1999)
The Film: The story of Ben Jordan (Willis) and his wife Katie (Michelle Pfeiffer), who’ve been together for 15 years, and go through all the trials and tribulations that marriage entails.
Willis Genius: How could he possibly resist playing the romantic lead against Michelle Pfeiffer? Here, Willis and Pfeiffer share fantastic chemistry as the head-over-heels couple who may not be quite as head-over-heels as they initially thought.
In Country (1989)
The Film: Emmett Smith (Willis) is still attempting to overcome the traumas of Vietnam. Not helping matters is his niece Sam (Emily Lloyd), whose father died in the war, and is desperate to find out more about him.
Willis Genius: Willis sports a dodgy bit of face fuzz – here a handlebar moustache – and totally gets away with it. Yes, he’s just that cool. It's a fine dramatic turn, too, you know.
Billy Bathgate (1991)
The Film: The year is 1935. Billy Bathgate (Lorean Dean) is taken under the wing of gangster Arthur ‘Dutch Schultz’ Flegenheimer (Dustin Hoffman), and soon falls for beautiful moll Drew Preston (Nicole Kidman).
Willis Genius: Though he makes only a tiny appearance in the film, Willis still makes waves. Doesn’t look bad in the period clothes, either.
The Kid (2000)
The Film: Disney comedy in which miserable old Russ Duritz (Willis) gets a second chance at life when mysterious eight-year-old Rusty (Spencer Breslin) comes along. Together, they go on a journey of self-discovery.
Willis Genius: Willis savours the opportunity to play a scrooge-like misery guts, sharing great chemistry with Breslin. And they say not to work with kids…
Mercury Rising (1998)
The Film: FBI agent Art Jeffries (Willis) is assigned to protect a nine-year-old autistic boy (Miko Hughes) who has cracked a government code and is being targeted by assassins.
Willis Genius: Willis again proves he’s great at working with the wee ones, encouraging a fantastic performance out of young Milo Hughes without ever succumbing to misty-eyed sentimentality. See Arnie's Jingle All The Way for how NOT to do it.
The Jackal (1997)
The Film: Mysterious assassin The Jackal (Willis) is hired by a Russian mobster to kill FBI director Donald Brown. In an attempt to stop The Jackal, IRA sniper Declan Mulqueen (Richard Gere) is released from prison to track him down.
Willis Genius: Willis plays The Jackal like some sort of rugged James Bond, muddying the moral waters and affording the killer a ruthless sensibility – and a wit as dry as sandpaper.
Death Becomes Her (1992)
The Film: Beauty-obsessed actress Madeline Ashton (Meryl Streep) is granted eternal youth by a mysterious immortal. When she ends up in a fight with her rival Helen Sharp (Goldie Hawn), lover Ernest Menville (Willis) gets caught in the middle.
Willis Genius: The action man completely disappears under some clever aging make-up and yet another comedy moustache. Here, he’s a bumbling genius completely at the mercy of a gorgeous woman. What would John McClane say?
Last Man Standing (1996)
The Film: During the Prohibition, gunslinger John Smith (Willis) wanders into a ghost town gripped in the battle between two warring gangs. Smith decides to play both sides against one another.
Willis Genius: After briefly going all period in Billy Bathgate , Willis takes the lead in some killer threads here. Nobody wears a hat like Bruce Willis.
The Film: Greer (Willis), a retired FBI agent, is forced to take up a firearm once more when a murder threatens to disrupt an otherwise peaceful, idealistic future world.
Willis Genius: The film brings nothing new to the sci-fi arena (it’s a composite of much better films), but it’s worth it just to see Willis playing a syrupy sweet surrogate.
Harts War (2002)
The Film: Col. William McNamara (Willis) gets banged up in a German POW camp, and encourages his troops to maintain order despite the dire situation. When a murder occurs within the camp, McNamara sees it as an opportunity to escape.
Willis Genius: Understanding the sensitivity of the material, Willis here underplays like a true professional. The result is a performance that boasts real gravitas, and anchors the entire film.
The Siege (1998)
The Film: Just three years before 9/11, Edward Zwick directed this scarily prophetic thriller about terrorist attacks on New York. The fall-out in real-life wasn’t quite as extreme as in The Siege , though – Major General William Devereaux (Willis) heads up a military takeover of the city.
Willis Genius: Our first glimpse of Willis is all we need to get excited. Him, looking a million bucks in a very sharp suit, standing guard in a cell with a terrorist. We don’t see him again for another 40 minutes, and then he’s in a room with Denzel Washington, taking a dig at the American president. Awesome.
Oceans Twelve (2004)
The Film: Daft sequel to Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven remake. Daniel Ocean (George Clooney) reunites his crew in order to tackle three heists in Europe.
Willis Genius: Willis keeps his tongue firmly in his cheek for a five minute cameo in which he plays himself. Meanwhile, Julia Roberts mugs madly next to him, and we wish Willis had stuck around for the entire film.
The Film: Apocalyptic sci-fi, in which a drilling team are sent off to blow up an asteroid that is heading straight for Earth. On the team are Harry Stamper (Willis) and A.J. Frost (Ben Affleck).
Willis Genius: We’ll say only this. If you’ve got a dry eye during the film’s emotional closing moments, you’re a better person than us. What a hero.
Tears Of The Sun (2003)
The Film: Lieutenant A.K. Waters (Willis) leads a special ops team into the jungle in order to rescue Dr. Lena Fiore Kendricks (Monica Bellucci). She’ll only go with them, though, if they agree to take 70 refugees with them.
Willis Genius: Willis doesn’t even talk for the first 15 minutes of the film, such is his dedication to the task of portraying a no-bullshit bad-bass. This is a surprisingly humour-free turn for the actor, who skilfully dodges the usual action movie pitfalls (dodgy romance) for something a little bit different.
The Film: Bank robbers Joseph 'Joe' Blake (Willis) and Terry Lee Collins (Billy Bob Thornton) both fall for Kate Wheeler (Cate Blanchett), the woman they’ve just kidnapped.
Willis Genius: Willis isn’t exactly as celebrated a thesp as Thornton and Blanchett, but here the three actors keep the comi-dramatic interplay lively and engaging.
Assassination Of A High School President (2008)
The Film: Student Francesca Fachini (Mischa Barton) hires newspaper reporter Bobby Funke (Reece Thompson) to investigate when some SAT test papers go missing. When Funke uncovers a conspiracy, he earns the respect of the school’s one-time Desert Storm hero Principal Kirkpatrick (Willis).
Willis Genius: What happens to all of Willis’ action heroes after they’ve hung up the firearms? Here, Willis gives us his own answer – they become high school principals. Genius.
The Expendables (2010)
The Film: Eighties action heroes unite as a team of mercenaries that include Sly Stallone, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren (and Jason Statham) attempt to dethrone a corrupt military leader.
Willis Genius: Willis is back on cameo duty (though he’s set to have his role considerably expanded for the upcoming Expendables 2 ). It’s the highlight of the film – not least because he finally (FINALLY!) gets to share the screen with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Beavis And Butt-Head Do America (1996)
The Film: Big-screen version of the potty-mouthed TV series. The eponymous duo set out to discover who’s stolen their cherished TV, and find themselves trekking across America.
Willis Genius: Willis teamed up with his then-wife Demi Moore to portray squabblesome couple Muddy and Dallas Grimes in the film. You can tell they’re acting, because their divorce was so amicable.
16 Blocks (2006)
The Film: Overweight cop Det. Jack Mosley (Willis) attempts to protect a witness as he’s escorted to a courthouse – but things just keep getting in the way.
Willis Genius: Fat suit! Willis dons a prosthetic paunch in order to get into the role, and he utterly convinces as an overweight has-been – he spends the entire film huffing, retching and mopping at his brow. Impressivo.
The Film: Small-town cop Jeff Talley (Willis) attempts to save the lives of a family that have been taken hostage in their own home.
Willis Genius: By now, Willis can do this sort of role standing on his head. To his credit, he doesn’t take his foot off the pedal, delivering a grubby, merciless performance that’s a lot darker than some of the action movies he’s done up to now.
The Whole Nine Yards (2000)
The Film: Nicholas ‘Oz’ Oseransky (Matthew Perry) is a struggling dentist who discovers that his new neighbour is in fact bad guy Jimmy ‘The Tulip’ Teduski (Willis)…
Willis Genius: Willis plays up his inherent likability as a smooth-talking criminal. Yeah, it’s basically a morally corrupt version of McClane, but thanks to Willis, that particular joke never runs thin. Until the sequel…
The Last Boy Scout (1991)
The Film: Disparaging detective Joe Hallenbeck (Willis) is helped out by ex-quarterback Jimmy Dix (Damon Wayans) when it seems that a murder case has connections to a pro football team.
Willis Genius: The explosions are huge and the stakes are high in this stand-out action flick from director Tony Scott, and Willis is more than up to the challenge – delivering blows and one-liners like nobody's business. No wonder he made a career out of this.
Over The Hedge (2006)
The Film: A group of forest animals infiltrate the neighbouring suburbs for food and fun. Leading them is travelling racoon con-artist RJ (Willis).
Willis Genius: The film’s packed full of famous voice artists (William Shatner, Steve Carell, uh, Avril Lavigne), but Willis is the one that stands out. He heads up some big explosions, too, of course.
Alpha Dog (2006)
The Film: Drug dealer Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) kidnaps the young brother of Jake Mazursk (Ben Foster) after he fails to pay up a debt.
Willis Genius: Willis turns up for cameo duty alongside Sharon Stone. He’s not given much to do, but merely having him in the film buoys an already-decent drama.
Die Hard 2 (1990)
The Film: First sequel to Die Hard , with Willis back as cop John McClane. This time he’s stuck in an airport that has been seized by mercenaries who threaten to cause mid-air crashes if they don’t get what they want.
Willis Genius: Another massively physical Die Hard for Willis, but he makes it look easy – taking as many punches as he delivers, and doing it all with a twinkle in his eye. Yippee-kai-yay!
The Film: Willis’ latest comic book adap, this one seeing his ex-black ops agent Frank Moses dragged out of retirement when a ghost from his past starts blowing things (and people) up.
Willis Genius: Helen Mirren gets the film’s standout machine gun moment, which means Willis has the unusual job of being the sardonic heart of the movie. Which of course is the kind of thing he was made for. Here’s hoping Red 2 appears on the horizon sometime soon.
Nobodys Fool (1994)
The Film: Willis gets in the ring with the big boys – here Paul Newman – for Robert Benton’s Oscar-nommed comedy drama. Sully Sullivan (Newman) butts heads with Carl (Willis) as he attempts to deal with visiting relatives.
Willis Genius: Released just after Pulp Fiction , Fool has Willis giving another gold-plated performance – which is all the more impressive considering he’s up against the masterful Newman.
The Film: Before Sin City , Willis had a go at comic books with Unbreakable , which gives comics an indie slant. David Dunn (Willis) is the sole survivor of a terrible train wreck, and discovers that he may just be indestructible.
Willis Genius: It’s a year after he made The Sixth Sense , and this is Willis still in sensitive indie mode. He pulls it off admirably, and we genuinely feel for him as his marriage deteriorates. His relationship with his son is also the sweetest we’ve ever seen Willis. All together now: aaahhhh.
Planet Terror (2007)
The Film: One half of the Grindhouse double bill. This one’s helmed by Robert Rodriguez, and a gory, grisly love letter to B-movies. Willis wears a beret as Lt Muldoon, attempting to keep order as a bio-weapon turns people into zombies.
Willis Genius: A film like this demanded somebody who could bring both a physical prowess to the role, and a gift for self-effacing humour. Willis must’ve been top of the list, then, and here he’s more than up to the task.
Die Hard 4.0 (2007)
The Film: The most recent Die Hard flick, and recent star of TF mag’s ‘Is it just me?’ column. Bringing the franchise bang up to date, 4.0 has McClane (Willis) going up against an evil internet terrorist who’s shutting down the US of A.
Willis Genius: Older, wiser and even gruffer than ever, Willis effortlessly shrugs back into McClane’s tattered shirt. It’s like he never went away.
The Fifth Element (1997)
The Film: Madcap futuristic thriller from director Luc Besson. Willis plays Korben Dallas, a cab driver who gets swept up into a plot to uncover a cosmic weapon. Milla Jovovich also stars wearing not very much, which we’re sure Willis didn’t have a problem with.
Willis Genius: Faint whiffs of McClane here, as Willis’ character finds himself carried along on a narrative freight train over which he has no control. If we ever had a Die Hard set in the future, this is what it’d look like.
Die Hard: With A Vengeance (1995)
The Film: John McClane’s back for a third wrong-place-wrong-time action adventure. This time, he’s running around New York with a shop owner (Samuel L. Jackson) attempting to stop an evil bomber.
Willis Genius: One year after he shared a credit with Jackson on Pulp Fiction , Willis ignites sizzling chemistry with the actor here. The film’s got its lovers and its haters, but there’s no denying Willis was born to play John McClane.
Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
The Film: Slevin Kelevra (Josh Hartnett) gets caught in the middle of a war between The Boss and The Rabbi, two rival crime bosses. Meanwhile, assassin Mr Goodkat (Willis) is on his tail.
Willis Genius: Slicked hair. Brown coat. Two guns. And that rugged, “don’t fuck with me” Willis glare. That’s all you need to make a character instantly awesome.
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
The Film: A typically mind-fuck time travel movie from Terry Gilliam. In a post-apocalyptic future, James Cole (Willis) is selected to go back in time to discover just who unleashed the deadly disease that wiped out most of the human race. Except he ends up in an insane asylum…
Willis Genius: “I need to go!” You’ve never seen Willis like this. Cuffed, drooling, beaten, he’s still the underdog, but this time playing it to the nth degree as a man literally out of time and space. It’s testament to Willis that he doesn’t go overboard, and is able to stand up to Brad Pitt’s equally grandstanding display.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Film: Effortlessly chilling ghost story that turned young Haley Joel Osment into an overnight star. Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Willis) is a psychologist who attempts to help a young boy (Osment) who believes that he can see dead people.
Willis Genius: Willis cuts such a sympathetic, sensitive figure here that it’s almost impossible to believe he made his name in action movies. It’s his deft performance that makes that sucker-punch final twist really hit the mark.
Sin City (2005)
The Film: Uber-stylish, super-faithful comic book adaptation shot mostly on a digital backlot. We get four stories (two of which are two-parters) directly lifted from Frank Miller’s original tome, with Willis appearing as serial-killer-hunter John Hartigan.
Willis Genius: All scarred and seedy, Willis barely cracks a smile for the entire running time, and that’s just how we like it. He’s also taken a leaf out of Mel Gibson’s book as a revenge-crazy cop. Fantastic.
Die Hard (1988)
The Film: The action movie to end all action movies – and one of the coolest Christmas films ever made. Officer John McClane (Willis) attempts to free his wife’s high-rise workplace from evil terrorists, who are headed up by the eeevil (cos he’s British) Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman).
Willis Genius: We’d never had an action hero like this before. A wise guy. A tough nut. A one-liner machine. Willis goes through a gruellingly physical performance, coins ever-quotable lines and looks super-cool doing it – and he makes it look EFFORTLESS. This is why he’s a ledge.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Film: Tarantino’s dizzying, pop culture anthem, which variously follows two hitmen, a gangster’s wife, a boxer, and a pair of ‘diner bandits’. In case you need reminding (you don’t), Willis plays aging fighter Butch Coolidge.
Willis Genius: Never has casting been more on the money than in Pulp Fiction , and Willis leads the way. Sure, Jackson’s more of a blabbermouth, but Willis gets the equally iconic moment of shredding Vincent Vega (John Travolta) with bullets. Then he encounters, of all things, a gimp…