Audiences might think they know Bruce Willis, who has starred in many popular films including The Sixth Sense, The Fifth Element, and Die Hard. But only a select group of people know what Willis is actually like to work with.
Willis gets mixed reviews from his co-stars and directors, who have offered varied opinions when sharing behind-the-scenes stories of their run-ins with him. Some directors and actors have publicly said they don't like working with Willis, while others talk enthusiastically about their chemistry on and off the screen. Like any Hollywood star, he's a complex person behind the swagger and spotlight.
M. Night Shyamalan and Bruce Willis go way back. The pair first worked together for the critically acclaimed thriller The Sixth Sense (1999), then teamed up for Unbreakable (2000) and Glass (2019).
Shyamalan has credited his own success to Willis's willingness to star in The Sixth Sense:
I owe him a lot. I owe him my career really, to be honest. No kid who’s 24 to 25 years old writes a movie and has a superstar say yes and then lets them make it exactly the way that they want to make it.
Shyamalan also said he has a close personal connection to Willis:
Bruce and I have actually stayed in touch and our families have stayed close. So, we’ve stayed in touch and he’s always been the big brother in my life... since I was a little kid... He’s the one that took the big risk on me and protected me.
One of the most famous child actors of his generation, Haley Joel Osment spoke one of the most quoted lines in cinema in The Sixth Sense.
Back in 2014, rumors were swirling around about Bruce Willis being hard to work with. When asked about his experience, Osment had nothing but good things to say:
I guess I'm lucky. I don't have to be diplomatic because I had a great experience with him. When we were in The Sixth Sense, I think everybody was in the mode of like, "All right, we have this wonderful thing, let's not mess it up." So everybody was in a good place. [Director M. Night Shyamalan] created a great atmosphere on the set. Bruce was having fun making that movie.
I feel bad for those guys because apparently they had a terrible experience but I had a good one. He was nice to me.
- Photo: Warner Bros.
The Whole Nine Yards (2000) brought together an unlikely duo - funnyman Matthew Perry and action star Bruce Willis. The pairing delighted fans so much the studio made a sequel, The Whole Ten Yards (2004), just a few years later.
Perry said he had a positive experience filming with Willis:
Bruce and I just got lucky. We've got good chemistry between us, and I say that - and I'm as straight as they come - but I do have good chemistry with Mr. Bruce Willis.
Though not officially confirmed, Perry reportedly bet Willis The Whole Nine Yards would be No. 1 at the box office. Willis took the bet - and lost after the film's success.
What was the wager? A guest spot on Friends, which featured Willis in three episodes.
- Photo: Universal Pictures
James McAvoy drew great acclaim for portraying Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man with 23 personalities, in 2016's Split. Audiences later learned Split was in the same universe as Bruce Willis's beloved superhero film, Unbreakable (2000).
Glass (2019) brought Crumb and Willis's character, David Dunn, to the same screen for the first time.
When asked of his experience working with the action star in Glass, McAvoy said:
Bruce was very quiet and very enigmatic. He in a very different way was hugely generous. He’s just such a quietly strong presence to have on set - very, very generous in a very different way. Less loud and forthright.
- Photo: 20th Century Fox
Die Hard is largely regarded as one of the top movies of Bruce Willis's career.
With barefoot action scenes, a corporate Christmas party backdrop, and perhaps the best villain of all time (here's looking at you, Hans Gruber), what's not to love?
Bonnie Bedelia starred as Willis's steel-willed wife in the film. When asked of her memories from filming the action classic, she said:
[Alan Rickman, who played Gruber] was who I actually hung out with because, if truth be told, Bruce had just met Demi Moore. So he was kind of distracted a little from me because she was there.
This was said with a smile, to which Bedelia added, "You know when romance is new and everything."
- Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing
Bruce Willis has shared the screen with many talented actors, including Halle Berry in 2007's Perfect Stranger.
When asked of her chemistry with the star, Berry said:
Well, it's hard not to have chemistry with Bruce because he's a ladies' man but he's also a man’s man. You know, men like him. He represents that, you know, good ol' macho man's man, and women find him irresistibly sexy, and he's funny, he's charming, he knows how to say all the right things that just make you feel like you're the most important person on the planet.