Bruce Willis tries to stay humble and avoid 'Die Hard 3'


April 24, 1991|By Lou Cedrone

Just a few years ago, he was known as ''The Wild Man.'' Today, he is married to actress Demi Moore and is the father of a 2 1/2 -year-old daughter who will any day now have a sister or brother.

Have marriage and fatherhood sobered Bruce Willis? It would seem so. On television, he laments the excesses of his 20s. ''They were a waste,'' he said.

In person, in New York, he smarts when Kitty Kelley's name is mentioned. ''What a parasite,'' he said. ''It's terrible when your crowning achievement is to pick up a lead pencil and write those things,'' he said. ''I despise it. It's awful when you get a $1 million advance to write a slant and a trash piece.''

Willis has good reason to loathe this kind of journalism. He has been a frequent target of the supermarket tabloids. ''That's the negative side of all this,'' said Willis, ''the gossip.''

He isn't too happy about the business reporting, either, the stories on budgets, salaries, etc.

''All that kind of thinking has had its effect,'' he said. ''It's all big business now. They are scraping away all of the mystery of how films are made. That kind of thinking has become ingrained. Never has Hollywood been so much about dollars and cents. Eventually, people will get so sick of it, they won't go to the movies anymore because every secret, every trick is uncovered.''

Someone mentioned Premiere Magazine, one of the newer, tonier movie periodicals, and Willis wasn't all that complimentary. ''They give you one slam to every two compliments,'' he said, ''but I try to forget all that and concentrate on my work.''

At the moment, Mr. and Mrs. Willis are visible in ''Mortal Thoughts,'' a mystery melodrama (with a few laughs) currently showing at local theaters. In the film, Willis is the husband of Joyce (Glenne Headly). A brutish man, he is murdered before the film is very far along.

Moore plays Joyce's good friend, Cynthia, and she and her off-screen husband have several scenes together. In one, they slap each other around when he attacks her.

So how did it feel to beat up on his own wife, all in the name of art?

''Well, we had two things going for us,'' said Willis. ''One was the film, and the other was what was going on between two actors who know each other.

''We were able to start at a much higher point of departure because we have communication and trust, two elements you wouldn't have had with a stranger. The movie, however, is about these two women. My character is just one of the things that happen to them.''

It's true. The women are really the stars of the film. Willis, who gets third billing, is doing what amounts to a supporting role. Does that bother him?

''I'm not threatened by that,'' he said. ''It gives me focus as an actor. Others would have me be larger than life, but I don't care about that. What I do every day is keep myself humble. I don't believe all the hype. It's just a job. Doing supporting roles keeps it all fresh and exhilarating. If I were to do 'Die Hard 32,' you'd be tired of me, and besides, when you do supporting roles, you don't have to carry the film.''

Willis also did a supporting role in ''Bonfire of the Vanities,'' his previous film, one he thinks deserved better treatment than it received.

''The movie suffered from all that hype,'' he said. ''It was a foregone conclusion that no one would like it no matter what Brian De Palma did. You've got to translate a book when you do it for the screen. If you want to say you don't like the translation, that's fine, but people got in line to throw rocks at the film. Some reviews were written before the movie even appeared. Some critics felt the casting was wrong, the director was wrong and that my character shouldn't have been changed from English to American.

''And even if it had been the most extraordinary film in the world, no one is really sure that the rest of the country cares about New York and the people who live there,'' said Willis. ''Brian worked very hard to make it a great film, and while you may find fault with his choices, the movie just didn't deserve what it got.

''It became the thing to write about. It has become popular to review the problems and budgets of films,'' he said. ''I've read five budget reviews of my next film. All refer to the producer's 'profligate spending.' What are they talking about?''

Speaking of money, it was the ''Die hard'' movies (''Die Hard'' and ''Die Hard 2'') that put currency in the pockets of all the people who were connected with them, beginning with Willis, who starred in both films.

Because both films were immensely successful and because success invites sequels in the movie industry, Willis was asked if there would be a third ''Die Hard'' movie.

''I hope not,'' he said.

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