The Career of Action Star Bruce Willis: From Die Hard to Looper

Walter Bruce Willis was born March 19th, 1955 in West Germany. Relocated to New Jersey early in his life, he was mocked by other children for his stutter, but he managed to conquer his vocal twitch by enrolling in drama classes and participating in stage performances. Following high school, he took odd jobs, before being discovered by a casting director.This led to several off-Broadway performances and the role of a private eye in the hit romantic comedy series, “Moonlighting.” Soon after, Willis rose to the status of superstar when he took on the role of hard-boiled detective John McClane in 1988’s iconic action flick “Die Hard.” Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the career of actor Bruce Willis.
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The Career of Action Star Bruce Willis: From Die Hard to Looper

He’s best known as a hard-edged, wisecracking action hero. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re taking a look at the career of actor Bruce Willis.

Walter Bruce Willis was born March 19th, 1955 in West Germany, as the son of an American soldier and a German bank employee. The family relocated to New Jersey early in his life, and there Willis attended Penns Grove High School. He was mocked by other children for a stutter, but he managed to conquer his vocal twitch by enrolling in drama classes and participating in stage performances.

Following high school, he took odd jobs, which included transporting work crews at a factory, and working as a security guard at a nuclear power plant. As luck would have it, Willis was finally discovered by a casting director while he bartended at a café in New York.

This led to several off-Broadway performances. However, Willis’ big break came in 1985 when he won the role of a private eye opposite Cybill Shepherd in the hit romantic comedy series, “Moonlighting.” With the help of this series, Willis quickly established himself as a hot new talent, and used his charismatic and wildly sarcastic personality to charm audiences.

Soon after, Willis became a superstar when he took on the role of hard-boiled detective John McClane in 1988’s “Die Hard.” In the film, Willis single-handedly took on a Los Angeles skyscraper full of terrorists. Willis played that character twice more over the next decade, first in 1990’s “Die Hard 2: Die Harder,” and then in 1995’s “Die Hard with a Vengeance.”

Between saving the day and spouting great one-liners, Willis voiced a baby in the popular comedy “Look Who’s Talking,” and its sequel. He also starred in several notable box-office flops, including 1990’s “The Bonfire of the Vanities” and 1991’s “Hudson Hawk,” which was a project he had co-written.

In spite of these box-office misfires, Willis thrilled audiences as a secret service agent in “The Last Boyscout,” and astonished fans as an alcoholic mortician married to an undead Meryl Streep in the cult-hit “Death Becomes Her.”

As Willis was normally typecast as an action hero, he followed these projects with a string of mediocre action flicks. These included “Striking Distance,” “The Jackal,” “The Siege” and “Mercury Rising.”

Despite his rut, the star did manage several massive hits throughout the 90s, including his unforgettable performance as boxer Butch Coolidge in Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.” In fact, this performance is credited with reviving his fading career.

He then appeared in the thriller, “Twelve Monkeys,” saved the planet in both “The Fifth Element” and the summer box-office juggernaut “Armageddon,” and shocked audiences in M. Night Shyamalan’s spine-tingling masterpiece “The Sixth Sense.”
He reunited with Shyamalan the following year when he became a superhero in “Unreakable,” and then showed off his lighter side in the gangster comedy “The Whole Nine Yards.”

The turn of the millennium saw some changes in his personal life: his 12-year marriage to Demi Moore came to an end. He then ended up on tabloid covers alongside his family and his ex-wife’s new love, Ashton Kutcher.

Willis then took the time to rediscover himself, and he rekindled his life-long passion for music. He then appeared in a string of military drams, which included 2002’s “Hart’s War” and 2003’s “Tears of the Sun.”

In 2005, Willis appeared in the film adaptation of the graphic novel, “Sin City,” and lent his voice to a scheming raccoon in the computer-animated hit “Over the Hedge.”

These projects didn’t build up nearly as much anticipation as Willis’ eagerly-awaited reprisal of his most famous on-screen persona in “Live Free of Die Hard.” Unfortunately, this sub-par sequel was followed by critically panned flops like “Surrogates” and “Cop Out.” However, he bucked that trend when he appeared as part of an all-star cast in the action comedy, “RED.”

Bruce Willis is an unparalleled action star who has over two decades-worth of fame behind him. During his iconic career, the star has brought Hollywood over two billion dollars in box office revenue. He continues to blow away audiences with high-profile action projects, including 2012’s “Looper” and “G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation.”
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