Bruce Willis has defined multiple decades of American cinema. In the '80s, he was John McClane in Die Hard. In the '90s, he was Butch Coolidge in Pulp Fiction and Malcolm Crowe in The Sixth Sense. In the 2000s, he was David Dunn in Unbreakable. In the 2010s, he was Old Joe in Looper. He's had his fair share of TV success, too.
Interesting facts and stories we never knew about Bruce Willis show that his off-screen life is just as interesting as any of his on-screen characters or plotlines.
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He Starred In 'The Sixth Sense' Because Of A Contract He Signed With Disney After A Failed Movie
Broadway Brawler was supposed to be a Disney film starring Willis as a down-on-his-luck former hockey player who falls in love. However, Willis feuded with virtually everyone on the production, causing terminations, delays, and monetary loss. Broadway Brawler was never completed and left Disney $17.5 million in the hole.
To work off his tab, WIllis accepted a three-picture deal with the company for far less pay than usual. One of the films was The Sixth Sense (the others were Armageddon and The Kid).
- Photo: Unbreakable / Buena Vista Pictures Distribution2461 VOTES
He Worked As A Guard At A Nuclear Plant Before Acting
Willis worked a number of tough jobs before getting his big break on the small screen. These include bartender ("Bruce was the best bartender in New York," said John Goodman, a fellow actor who struggled at the same time), small-engine repairman, driver for a DuPont chemical factory, and security guard for a nuclear power plant construction site. About the last of those jobs, Willis said:
I was walking outdoors in the snow with these keys, making sure that [the power plant] was safe. It was a pretty weird environment. I used to go 300 feet underground to a nuclear container to hit these keys that punched a time clock. It was very spooky.
After a long string of blue-collar jobs, Willis was cast in the ABC show Moonlighting, which premiered in 1985, and he didn't look back.
- Photo: NBC3573 VOTES
He Appeared On 'Friends' Only After Losing A Bet To Matthew Perry
Willis and Matthew Perry reportedly made a bet before the release of their 2000 film The Whole Nine Yards. If the movie became a hit, Willis would appear on Perry's show Friends and donate his pay to charities of Perry's choice. The Whole Nine Yards grossed $106 million.
Willis said in a 2000 interview that he did the cameo simply for fun, but contradicted himself in 2018 by telling Wired there was a bet - but he didn't divulge the details. Regardless, Willis appeared in three episodes of Friends, playing the father of Ross's student/girlfriend, a role for which he won an Emmy.
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He Had To Learn To Write With His Right Hand For 'The Sixth Sense' So He Wouldn't Give The Ending Away
Willis is left-handed, but the famous twist in The Sixth Sense revolves around Willis's character's wedding ring, which, like for most men, was worn on his left hand. To conceal the twist, Willis had to write with his right hand.
He must have done a good job, because most people were shocked by the climactic image of his ringless left hand.
- Photo: 20th Century Fox5429 VOTES
He Lost Most Of His Hearing In One Ear While Filming 'Die Hard'
Willis suffered from hearing loss - two-thirds loss in his left ear, to be exact - for most of his career. According to his daughter Rumer, the condition developed on the set of Die Hard after he discharged a gun next to his ear. Allegedly, that wasn't his only on-set firearms flub. Multiple production members on the film Hard Kill recounted that Willis fired a blank-loaded gun on the wrong cue - perhaps twice.
Rumer blamed the hearing loss in part for her dad's awkwardness during interviews.
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His First Name Isn't Actually Bruce
It's not clear why he decided to go by his middle name, but maybe Bruce Willis sounds more like a modern movie star than Walter Willis (or Walter Willison).