The Evolution Of Bruce Willis
The Return Of Bruno (1988)
Before 1988, Willis' CV was looking a bit sparse. He'd been on TV a couple of times, and had had a string of parts in piddly films.
The Return Of Bruno was one such piddle. A mockumentary about a ficticious '60s superstar 'Bruno Radolini', it featured appearances from Elton John and Ringo Starr, among others.
The Tuft : Bruce's 33-year old scalp was in full bloom, as demonstrated by Bruno's luxurious crop.
Of course, Bruno pales into insignificance when you consider his next venture...
Die Hard (1988)
Die Hard made Bruce Willis.
In his most iconic role, Willis is NYPD Officer John McClane, an uncommonly dedicated cop caught up in a whole lifetime of major catastrophes.
In the first of the franchise, he's up against Alan Rickman's German terrorist Hans Gruber. Naughty old Hans is out to steal millions of dollars, but soon realises that he picked the wrong cop to mess with.
Here beginneth the legend.
The Tuft: There's quite a lot of it, and it looks fine and dense. And soft. Like cat's hair.
Die Hard 2 (1990)
And before we all knew it, he was back.
Of course, he did some bits and pieces in-between (notably, voicing the baby in Look Who's Talking ), but ... Die Hard , Die Hard, Die Hard .
This time, John has to contend with more terrorists, who take over air traffic controls at an airport his wife is due to fly into. Those pesky terrorists! You show 'em, John!
The Tuft: Tufty is gloriously tufty, though all the action does seem to be going on right at the top of his head. Like a pineapple.
Hudson Hawk (1991)
Urgh, Hudson Hawk .
This film heralded the beginning and end of Bruce's screenwriting career. A surreal, cartoon-ish, slapstick mess, Hudson Hawk went down like a fart at a funeral.
On the up-side, they do talk about Nintendo quite a lot (the film even features crime family "The Mario Brothers"). And it looks like they have fun on those skateboards. Definitely no redemption, though.
The Tuft: Tufty's looking a bit shorter, shorn a bit closer this time to 'looped-pile' carpet effect.
Death Becomes Her (1992)
The role of Dr. Ernest Menville was quite a departure from the cool, tough-man persona Willis was accustomed to. Ernest is weak and geeky, and succumbs to the whims of the vampish Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep.
The film is a dark comedy, all about lust, vanity, and death (and how to escape it).
Poor old Ernest gets all caught up in some macabre and unearthly dealings.
The Tuft: Bruce has an extra tuft over his top lip. The Tuft starts off neat, all slicked back, but gets more and more dishevelled as Ernest gets more and more stressed out.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
In Tarantino's third film ever (if you count My Best Friend's Birthday ), Willis is cast as Butch Coolidge, a boxer with a killer punch.
When he punches too hard one night, he kills his opponent, double-crossing the formidable gangster Marcellus Wallace who had placed a bet on the match.
The Tuft: Alack, it is a mere shadow of a tuft. It's nothing but scalp stubble in this one.
Die Hard: With A Vengeance (1995)
Why, hello Mr McClane! And welcome back.
Sorry - Detective McClane.
For those few who find the Die Hard franchise a little confusing (if the whole thing just melds into one big indistinguishable panicky lump in your brain): this is the one with Jeremy Irons.
Remember? Yeah, it's bloody good isn't it.
It involves more terrorists, more explosions, and more pre/post-gunshot quips.
The Tuft: Tufty's back! Yay!
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
In Terry Gilliam's sci-fi thriller, Willis plays James Cole, a convict who travels back in time to find out more about the virus which killed 99% of the Earth's population.
It's said that Gilliam hand-picked Willis after being moved by a scene in Die Hard , where John McClane talks about his wife. He was impressed to learn that the section was ad-libbed by Willis.
Well done, Bruce. Such a clever bean.
The Tuft : Well, it's gone again. But at least he has a nice shaped head.
The Fifth Element (1997)
Korben Dallas is a taxi driver in a futuristic America.
One day, he comes across Leeloo, a beautiful but strange woman who's on the run from the law. Dallas decides to protect her. With his lovely strong arms.
Oddly, though Dallas is the hero, he never actually meets (or communicates with) his villain, Zorg. Which is a shame, because Zorg is played by Gary Oldman, and he's bloody brilliant.
The Tuft: Well, would you look at that! Tufty's had a make-over. It's all nice and blonde. How pretty.
In Armageddon , Willis and the cast were granted permission to wear actual NASA spacesuits. They're, like, three million dollars apiece.
It's a shame it didn't make a bit of difference to our enjoyment of the film. It was still rubbish.
Willis played Liv Tyler's dad, an oil drilling wizard (not an actual wizard), who is sent into space to save the world. There's a lot of saluting and crying and astronauts' wives and kids touching screens.
The Tuft: It's there, but only just. And it's slightly silver. Reminiscent of grey suede.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
No, we're not going to tell you the ending.
Oh, go on then:
Bruce realises that he isn't a regular guy at all. He's actually a rare species of possom. When taken to the lab, he escapes and embarks upon a journey back to his native Samoa, on a home-made raft. All he has for company is a wise-cracking Pekinese called Funjy.
Both are horrifically killed and eaten by sharks.
The Tuft: Somehow, it's back and better than ever. We thought it was on its last legs in Armageddon, but it's still going strong.
It was his second M. Night Shyamalan movie in as many years, and, to be honest, he plays pretty much the same character.
Except this time, he is utterly invincible. After learning that he's the only survivor of a catastrophic train crash, it emerges that, no matter how hard you hammer at them, his bones just won't break.
Understandably, this makes Samuel L. Jackson's "Mr Glass" a bit narky. His bones break in a strong wind. Poor feller.
The Tuft: Yep, nope, it's gone again. Totally smooth. Underneath that baseball cap his head's just one giant ping-pong ball.
Hart's War (2002)
As Col. William A. McNamara, Willis works the furrowed-brow / steel-eyed-glare form of acting to create a noble, imposing colonel with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
He's imprisoned in a German POW camp during World War II. There, he meets young Lieutenant Tommy Hart (Colin Farrell).
Together they do brave things, like defending a black pilot against murder charges, and escaping, and blowing things up.
The Tuft: Tufty's (tragically) covered up for most of the film by a little hat.
As Jeff Talley, Willis has a real job on his hands.
He keeps being caught up in hostage situations. Firstly, when he's a hostage negotiator, he has to hold a dying boy in his arms.
He's a bit shaken up by that.
He leaves LA, traumatised, to set up a new life as police chief in a quiet suburb. There, he has to deal with yet another hostage taking, and this time his family are involved. Which makes him real mad.
The Tuft: Still gone. We're beginning to think it might be gone for good.
Sin City (2005)
Hartigan is really cool.
In Frank Miller's graphic novel adaptation, Willis plays the ultimate film noir hero. He's an aging, world-weary cop whose struggle for justice is hindered by his devotion to Nancy (Jessica Alba).
He is determined to save Nancy from the perverted Yellow Bastard (who really is a proper bastard).
That Yellow Bastard is, in turn, determined to do naughty things to Nancy. And poor little Nancy is too much of a girl to stop him.
The Tuft: Tufty's back, and it's the bushiest, most beautifulest Tufty we've ever seen. [Insert smiley face emoticon.]
Alpha Dog (2006)
Based on a true story, Alpha Dog is all about the kidnap and murder of a boy in California in 2000. It's got lots of guns and drugs and nasty things like that.
Willis is Sonny Truelove. He plays the father of Johnny, one of the guys involved in the boy's kidnap.
He doesn't have a major part, and is just an angry dad in most of his scenes. He's quite good at being an angry dad, though.
Oh, and Justin Timberlake's also there sometimes.
The Tuft: Wooooah! Tufty's gone nuts! It's now a veritable whisp! Good going, Tufty.
Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
With a name like Mr Goodkat, it was unlikely that Willis' character would be anything other than a hitman.
Except maybe a bootleg catfood manufacturer.
As it happens, he is a hitman in Lucky Number Slevin , and a ruddy good one he is, too.
The Tuft: It's looking pretty smart in this one. But it's also gone a weird sandy colour. Sort of gingery-caramel-vomit. Yuck. What's that all about, Tufty?
We think we prefer no Tufty at all.
Co-written, produced and directed by dream team Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, Grindhouse was released in two parts: Planet Terror and Death Proof .
Willis plays Lt. Muldoon in Planet Terror . He's the (crazy) leader of a group of military officials, and is responsible for the release of a deadly biochemical agent, which turns everybody into bloodthirsty, disfigured loonies.
Mul doooon , you utter boob.
The Tuft: Ousted by a beret, Tufty's set up camp on Willis' face.
Live Free Or Die hard (2007)
Is it the last one? We think it's the last one. But it might not be the last one. But it probably is.
After a loooong absence, John McClane returned to cinema screens in 2007, to rapturous applause. From us, at least.
Of course, he's battling more terrorists. But this time they're cyber terrorists! They use the internet to aid them in their dastardly deeds. That's right, Die Hard keeps up with current affairs.
The Tuft: Never have we seen such a tuftless head. There is absolutely nothing there. Not even a scrap of tuft. His head gets covered in nasty scratches, too. If Tufty were there, he'd protect you, John.
Surrogates is out this week, and it's got our Brucie in it, running around and being heroic - just how we like him.
He plays FBI Agent Greer, who, like everyone else in the futuristic world, has a 'surrogate', a remote-control robot, through whom he communicates with other human beings.
Thanks to their surrogates, human beings never have to venture outside their own homes.
Sounds magical, doesn't it? What are they all complaining about? Sign us up for one of those!
The Tuft: Again, Tufty's gone south. It's all silver again, and all over Bruce's face.
What's next for Tufty? Stay tuned and find out in Bruce's next adventure!