BLOG The Bruce Willis Factor

Bruce Willis is cool. Let’s face it, he just is. Willis is one of the few actors I can watch in pretty much anything. He’s one of my favourite actors I suppose; stick a Bruce Willis film on and I’m usually happy.

A few years ago there was a thread in the SFX forum talking about people’s DVD collections and the subject came round to which actor appears most in your collection. At the time it was Bruce Willis for me with his name on 16 film titles on my DVD shelves. Today he’s on 19 titles in my collection and unfortunately he’s just been eclipsed by Samuel L Jackson with his Nick Fury cameos. But only by one film.

And frankly I think Samuel L Jackson might be cheating a bit there.

Willis is one of the few actors who can turn up and play Bruce Willis “action hero” and get away with it. Looking at trailers for the new Die Hard film does anyone really believe he’s playing John McClane anymore? Nah. He’s Bruce Willis. He’s always Bruce Willis. He shows up in films with his bald head and that wry smile and everyone knows exactly what to expect.

I’m not complaining; I like Bruce Willis playing Bruce Willis. Everybody does, that’s why he gets to be in all those films; over 70 so far. It’s nice to see him pop up and be Bruce Willis. And it’s not like he can’t do the more challenging roles when he’s asked. He’s not playing standard action hero in The Sixth Sense or Unbreakable . And he did a fantastic job with both those films.

There’s a whole group of actors who just turn up and play themselves most of the time: Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme. Basically all the ’80s action stars have done it. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. These actors and the films they star in are often exactly what we’re expecting and are usually entertaining as hell. We all know that when Arnie turns up in a film he’s just playing Arnie don’t we? Playing “The Terminator” is about the most we’ve seen him act and that was a case of less is more, wasn’t it? Not so with Willis; he’s one of the few who’s managed to be both a generic action vehicle star and also do more subtle character stuff as well.

Willis is one of the few action film actors from the late ‘80s who’s managed to be a consistent box office hit pretty much ever since then. From his humble beginnings as David Addison in Moonligting with Cybill Shepard back in the mid ’80s – I bet there’s people reading this who have no clue what that is – to his upcoming appearance as the original GI Joe in GI Joe: Retaliation later this year, Willis has managed to prove himself a very adaptable actor.

And he’s been in a fair few well received sci-fi films over the years; from being (spoilers) dead right from the start in M Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense to exploring a post apocalyptic America in Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys or playing Korben Dallas in Luc Besson’s bat’s-arse The Fifth Element , he’s certainly got admirable sci-fi credentials. I could go on and on; there’s Armageddon, Sin City or Looper … But let’s not mention the wig from Surrogates shall we ?

So, this is just a blog saying I love seeing a Bruce Willis film. Sometimes it’s nice to just celebrate something you enjoy and whether he’s Yippee Ki Yaying the Mother Effers or flashing his multi-pass with a grin, I’m always up for a bit of Bruce.

Are you a fan of the Willis? Is he the best actor in the world ever? What’s your favourite genre film staring the ever smirking super star?

Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.