When Kevin Smith worked with Bruce Willis on the set of Live Free or Die Hard (2007), their relationship was nearly perfect. Both hailing from New Jersey (though Willis spent his first two years in Germany), the two stars got along swimmingly and even kept in touch after production had ended. Their newfound friendship led to another project together: the comedy Cop Out (2010).
Both have made headlines for their surprising behaviors. Smith is known for his heavy stoner habits and over-the-top fanboying - even his friendship with Ben Affleck has fallen under scrutiny. Willis, who boasts a decades-long career of lucrative box office hits (which has afforded him the wherewithal to buy a town in Idaho), has developed a reputation for his notable feuds over the years.
When Willis and Smith reunited as lead actor and director, things quickly fell apart. Their conflicting creative visions soon clashed and led to yet another noteworthy on-set feud. What does Kevin Smith think of Bruce Willis now? And how does Willis feel about Smith? Well, let's just say there's been a lot of profanity and name-calling. Let's investigate the development of the Smith/Willis feud with this timeline of their beef.
Willis Never Wavered On How He Wanted To Be Portrayed On-ScreenPhoto: Die Hard/20th Century Fox
Over the years, Smith has built relationships with actors whom he has frequently collaborated with over the years. His relatively laid-back directorial style supposedly includes encouraging actors to do extreme things to see if they would go along with them. He shared that he would get Ben Affleck to do something outrageous - and Affleck would reportedly comply.
Willis was not the same type of actor as Affleck, however. Smith explained:
On the first day of shooting, I started to mess with Bruce, trying to get him to do something crazy, and [he pretended to take a shot at my head]. His point was pretty obvious. He's done this part so many times that he knows what works and what doesn't. He's the caretaker of the Bruce Willis persona. He's been a star for 25 years while most of his peers have fallen by the wayside, so he knows what works for his image.
Willis Was Purportedly Uncooperative While Some Say Smith Was Often Too HighPhoto: Clerks/Miramax
Smith claimed Willis intentionally worked against him while filming. He shared one story of an incident when Willis purposefully missed his mark several times, eventually walking over to the catering table instead. Smith explained the experience was "like somebody who's literally working against the production just sitting there to be like, 'How can I [mess] with it today?'"
Smith reportedly wasn't easy to work with, either. A representative associated with Cop Out complained of Smith's weed-induced aloofness: "He [uses] way too much pot... He sat behind his monitor. He didn't interact with the actors. The actors felt they were on their own."
Smith dismissed this rep's allegation, stating:
If [their claim is valid], how did I manage to not only bring the film in on schedule but under budget? If I was supposedly so stoned, how could I shoot all day THEN edit the film myself all night?
One Source Claims Willis Was Furious At Smith For Being Ignorant About Camera Equipment
Given Willis's extensive film career, he is likely acutely aware of how to work the camera and the best way to approach certain scenes. On Marc Maron's podcast, Smith commented about Willis's attitude on set:
I was going at it like, "Bruce, do it like this." I was directing Bruce the way I direct everybody else.
And Bruce was like, "I've been acting like Bruce Willis for 25 years, do you really think there's anything you're going to tell me that I don't know?" So he was very much the author of his own performance.
In one rumored incident on set, Willis called out Smith for his lack of knowledge about a type of camera lens.
Willis Supposedly Failed At Trying To Ad-Lib With Tracy Morgan
The on-set conflicts reportedly continued as Smith tried to encourage more ad-libbing from his stars. Willis's interactions with co-star Tracy Morgan also became an issue, as the two had different comedic styles. While Morgan thrived at improvised dialogue, Willis occasionally couldn't keep up with him.
Smith explained, "[Willis] seemed shell-shocked by how fast Tracy could make up dialogue and be funny... Tracy was so fun, and Bruce was like, 'What is he talking about?'"
The action star's few attempts at matching Morgan's comedic talents only resulted in outdated jokes and references, according to Smith:
He hasn't done comedy in a bit... He always said he didn't trust himself with comedy even though he came from comedy in Moonlighting. But so much of what he is as a movie star is predicated on John McClane (from Die Hard) and not being a comedic actor like he used to be back in the day.