Bruce Willis is one of the most easily recognized actors in American films today. From roles in huge successes like Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” and M. Night Shymalan’s “The Sixth Sense” to movies that his fans would rather forget like “Hudson Hawk”, Willis has carved out a niche for himself in Hollywood history. However, there are a lot of little moments that movie buffs and celebrity trivia fans alike might find interesting about how Willis got to where he is today. Things like:
He Wasn’t Born in America
Despite the All-American look and sound that Bruce Willis has, he was actually born in West Germany in Idar-Oberstein in the year 1955. He remained abroad until he was about two years old, at which point his father left the armed forces and moved his entire family to New Jersey. This explains both the way he talks, as well as the fact that he chose to go by his middle name Bruce, rather than his original birth name of Walter. Audiences should be thankful that he didn’t go full blue-collar and stick with the nickname his friends gave him; Bruno.
He Suffered From a Severe Stutter
When he was still in school, Willis had a serious problem making himself understood. Despite being outgoing and friendly, Willis just couldn’t get his words out properly up until he was around nine years old. According to Willis he accidentally discovered his own cure when he tried out for a part in a local high school play, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”. As soon as he got up onto the stage, his stutter completely vanished. It came back once he’d finished acting, but he’d found the key. It was the same key that had worked for actors like James Earl Jones, who also stuttered until he was up and acting in front of an audience.
Dropped Out of Acting School… And Got His Big Break While Dressed Like a Punk
It’s not uncommon for young, aspiring actors to leave the classroom behind to try and make it as working actors. However, it is rather uncommon to hear a success story coming out of that decision. Willis moved to New York City, and worked waiting tables and tending bar. The latter actually led him to get certain, bit parts in scenes that needed a believable bar tender. It wasn’t until he got the role of wise-cracking private eye David Addison in the television series “Moonlighting” that he really started making in-roads.
What most people don’t know is the story behind that audition. There were literally thousands of hopeful, hungry actors that wanted that part. A chance to star in a major television show, especially opposite Cybill Shepherd, was sure to draw a crowd. Willis showed up to the audition in combat fatigues and sporting a spiked-up hairstyle that would have had him thrown out of most reputable clubs. Despite that appearance, he was still charming and talented enough to land the spot and to get his first big, starring role.
Became an Action Hero Against All Odds
When “Die Hard” was being cast there were a lot of big names getting phone calls. The film had originally been pitched as a sequel to “Commando”, and though it had been re-written as a stand-alone piece Arnold Schwarzenegger was the first one to get the call. He turned the project down, so the casting people next wen to Sylvester Stallone. Stallone also said no to the lead role of John McClane, and that left the part wide open for Willis to shoot for. He brought all of the charm and snappy one-liners he’d displayed in “Moonlighting” to the role, and mixed in a healthy dose of tough guy swagger brought all the way from New Jersey. The result was a character that had all the muscle and mayhem of a traditional action lead, but with a charisma and light-heartedness that made John McClane feel more real.
Suffered For His Art
While “Die Hard” is the film that made Willis a name on the scene, making the movie cost him. While all the guns were loaded with blanks, they also had more gunpowder than was usual so they produced a bigger, louder bang for the microphones. In the scene where Willis is firing up through the underside of a table the closed space combined with the louder rounds caused him permanent hearing loss; 2/3 of his hearing in his right ear, in fact.
Put Bounties on Terrorists
While Willis has tried to avoid being labeled as a Republican, he has never been afraid to put his money where his beliefs are. His support of United States troops and their efforts is well known, but he went one step further. Willis put a $1 million bounty on both Saddam Hussein (before his death, obviously) and on Osama Bin Laden (the same). Willis wanted to make U.S. troops eligible, but due to the constraints of the law only civilians would be able to collect on the offered funds.
Got Married by Little Richard
While Bruce Willis’s marriage to, and then divorce from Demi Moore is common celebrity knowledge, many people forget who officiated at their ceremony. Little Richard, who had gotten ordained in case the music decision didn’t work out for him, was the man who performed the nuptials at the wedding of Hollywood’s latest power couple. This puts Willis and Moore on a list with other celebrities, such as Bruce Springsteen and Cindy Lauper.
“12 Things You Didn’t Know About Bruce Willis” by Danny Gallagher at The FW
“Biography For Bruce Willis” by Anonymous at IMDB
“Bruce Willis Biography” by Anonymous at Biography