The legendary actor, who cemented action hero status after playing John McClane in the Die Hard franchise, turned 68 on March 19. And there’s probably no better way to celebrate than by looking back and revisiting Willis’ best performances.
He ended his brilliant acting career in March 2022. Then his family, represented by his wife Emma Heming Willis, his ex-wife Demi Moore, as well as his six daughters: Rumer Willis, Scout Willis, Talulah Willis, Mabel Willis and Evelyn Ullis announced that he had been diagnosed with aphasia, which affects a person’s ability to communicate. Last month, they followed up on his condition, saying Willis had frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
Since his breakout role in Moonlight, which won him a Golden Globe and an Emmy for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical in 1987, Willis has appeared in more than a hundred films. Among them are “Pulp Fiction” (1994), “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “Kingdom of the Full Moon” (2012). Projects with Bruce’s participation brought in more than $5 billion at the global box office.
Franchise Die Hard (1988 – 2013)
Still from the movie “Die Hard” (1988).
Photo source: 20th Century Fox.
Bruce Willis was called “Hollywood’s toughest guy” in 1988 when he appeared on screen as the fearless John McClane in this action-packed (and Christmas-themed) movie. It was followed by five sequels featuring Willis. The series grossed $1.4 billion at Twentieth Century Fox.
“The Fifth Element” (1997)
Image from the film “The Fifth Element” (1997).
Photo credit: Columbia Pictures.
The actor’s first immersion in the science fiction genre came in this film by Luc Besson, where he plays a taxi driver who becomes responsible for the survival of planet Earth in the 23rd century.
“Pulp Fiction” (1994)
Willis starred alongside John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Ving Rhames and Uma Thurman in this Quentin Tarantino film noir. The film grossed over $213 million at the box office and was nominated for seven Oscars, winning Best Original Screenplay.
Frame from the movie “Armageddon” (1998).
Image source: Touchstone Pictures.
Audiences didn’t want to miss a moment of Willis’ touching performance as the devoted father who sacrificed his life to save the world (and Ben Affleck) in Michael Bay’s disaster flick. The picture became the biggest revenue in 1998.
“Time Loop” (2012)
Rian Johnson’s sci-fi thriller features Bruce Willis one-on-one with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character. Bruce’s younger colleague played a younger version of his character. Indeed, a loop.
“The Sixth Sense” (1999)
Still from the movie “The Sixth Sense” (1999).
Photo credit: Hollywood Pictures.
Willis and M. Night Shyamalan have teamed up for the first time for this horror flick, featuring one of the most shocking plot twists in movie history. The Sixth Sense was the second highest-grossing film of 1999.
In this psychological thriller, Willis played a famous former soccer player who gained superhuman strength after surviving a train crash. The actor ended up on set with Shyamalan. And he reprized his character in Split (2016) and Glass (2019).
“The Consumables” (since 2010)
Willis has worked with a slew of action stars, including Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren in the franchise’s first two films. However, he decided to refuse filming in the third part of 2014.
“Kingdom of the Full Moon” (2012)
Still from the movie “Kingdom of the Full Moon” (2012).
Photo source: Indian brush.
In this dramatic coming-of-age story by Wes Anderson, Willis is remembered for his whimsical performance, flashing on screen with Edward Norton, Frances McDormand and Bill Murray. The director won the Golden Globe for Best Picture and the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
“Sin City” (2005)
In the 2005 neo-noir crime anthology filmed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, Willis appears as aging cop John Hartigan.
Alpha Dog (2006)
Still from the movie “Alpha Dog” (2006).
Photo source: Sidney Kimmel Entertainment.
Based on the true story of the kidnapping and murder of Nicholas Markowitz, Willis plays Sonny Truelove, a character inspired by John “Jack” Hollywood, the father of murderer Jesse James Hollywood.
“Nine Meters” (2000)
Willis showed both dodgeball and acting skills in this 2000 hit, starring Matthew Perry. The success exceeded expectations and led to a sequel, The Nine Yards 2 (2004).
“Retired and very dangerous,” Willis played a former CIA agent in this action movie, whose skills nonetheless came in handy in solving another difficult task for the Agency. The film also stars Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren.
“Death Becomes Her” (1992)
Image from the film “Death becomes her” (1992).
Image source: Universal Pictures.
The actor became the subject of desire of Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn in this satirical comedy by Robert Zemeckis.
In the thriller, Willis plays General William Devereux alongside Denzel Washington, Annette Bening and Tony Shalhoub.
“Double COP” (2010)
Willis plays a tough-nosed (but funny) character opposite comedian Tracy Morgan in this Kevin Smith flick about cop buddies.
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