Bruce Willis is ending his career: a look back at ten roles to save

TV series, big Hollywood productions and chain nanars: in forty years of career, the star has experienced ups and downs. From “Clair de lune” to “Moonrise Kingdom”, a look back at ten good memories that we will keep of the actor with charming irony.

Unforgettable John McClane in the saga diehardboxer in love in pulp Fictionordinary superhero in Unbreakable, then much less convincing since the 2010s – especially in Expendables 2 alongside his big-armed friends Stallone and Schwarzenegger… In nearly forty years of career, Bruce Willis has gone from television (Moonlight) to big Hollywood productions, before getting lost in countless B series, to the point of chaining nearly a dozen flat nanars in 2021. A few days ago, the Razzie Awards, a kind of Oscar for the worst, have even dedicated a category to it.

But this Thursday, March 30, the actor’s family announced on social networks that he was ending his career for health reasons. Willis indeed suffers from aphasia, a language disorder that has become incompatible with his job. A look back at the career of a star whose recent choices, guided by more economic than artistic criteria, should not eclipse either the good roles or the charming irony.

“Moonlight” (Glenn Gordon Caron, 1985-1989)

“Moonlight” (1986).

Photo: Rue des Archives/BCA

In 1985, it was a humorous private detective character, David Addison, who propelled Bruce Willis to center stage. Addison works in an agency on the verge of bankruptcy, inherited by a broke model, the very uptight Maddie Hayes (Cybill Shepherd), who decides to team up with him. Well-balanced dialogue, goofiness and erotic tension are the hallmark of this hit drama from the 1980s. Willis.

“Drinking and setbacks” (Blake Edwards, 1987)

“Drinking and setbacks” (1987).

“Drinking and setbacks” (1987).

Photo: Delphi V Productions – TriStar Pictures

The actor lands a first role on the big screen in this comedy by the great Blake Edwards with the original title, blind date, less explicit than its French version. He embodies an ambitious and seductive young banker, whose life will be turned upside down by a Kim Basinger as intolerant of alcohol as a Gremlin of food after midnight… From burlesque hazards to disasters, the film, although imperfect, remains charming.

“Die Hard: Crystal Trap” (John McTiernan, 1988)

“Crystal Trap” (1988).

“Crystal Trap” (1988).

Photo: 20th Century Fox

New York police officer John McClane travels to Los Angeles to celebrate Christmas (and patch things up) with his wife. A hostage-taking in a glass fortress upsets his plans… Bruce Willis renews the figure of the action hero of the 1990s. At the same time more human, more ordinary and funnier, he participates in the success of this first effective adventure signed John McTiernan. The youthful look is still operating with 58 minutes to live (1990), then less with A day in hell (1995), Back to Hell (2007), beautiful day to die (2013)…

“Death suits you so well” (Robert Zemeckis, 1992)

“Death suits you so well” (1992).

“Death suits you so well” (1992).

Photo: Rue des Archives/RDA

In this gently misogynistic vaudeville fantasy, Madeline Ashton (Meryl Streep) and Helen Sharp (Goldie Hawn), seemingly good friends, don’t hesitate to lash out for a man. In this case, it is Ernest Menville – Bruce Willis, amazing in the center of the spicy bun crepes – who sets fire to the powder, in spite of himself, by marrying the first.

“Pulp Fiction” (Quentin Tarantino, 1995)

Pulp Fiction (1995).

Pulp Fiction (1995).

Photo: A Band Apar – Miramax Films

In the mid-1990s, while Bruce Willis had a string of critical and commercial failures, Quentin Tarantino gave him, along with John Travolta, a second wind with pulp Fiction. In this unmissable Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, Willis plays Butch Coolidge, embroiled in shenanigans with the characteristic violence of the Tarantinesque universe. The actor is touching here, in a supporting role of a boxer in love with a slightly naive Frenchwoman (Maria De Meideros).

“Army of the 12 Monkeys” (Terry Gilliam, 1996)

“Army of the 12 monkeys” (1996).

“Army of the 12 monkeys” (1996).

Photo: Universal

In this post-apocalyptic thriller, inspired by the short The Pier, by Chris Marker, Willis plays James Cole, sent to the past to understand the origin of a virus which, in 2035, decimated 99% of the world’s population. A breathless quest in a world with erased temporal markers and one of the first truly serious and dark roles of Willis, propelled savior of humanity before The fifth Element or the much less fine Armageddon.

“Sixth Sense” (M. Night Shyamalan, 1999)

“Sixth Sense” (1999).

“Sixth Sense” (1999).

Photo: Hollywood

Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist, makes it his mission to rid young Cole of the apparitions that terrify him. Bruce Willis is filming here for the first time under the direction of M. Night Shyamalan and his sober melancholy surprises almost as much as the film’s twist. He will find the director in Unbreakable and Glass.

“Sin City” (Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, 2005)

“Sin City” (2005).

“Sin City” (2005).

Photo: Rico Torres/Dimension Films

A city plagued by vice, crime and toxic masculinity… Remaining faithful to Frank Miller’s comics, Robert Rodriguez develops in SinCity a unique visual universe made of a limited color palette and numerous special effects. Bruce Willis is amazing there as a romantic black hero à la Philip Marlowe.

“Moonrise Kingdom” (Wes Anderson, 2012)

“Moonrise Kingdom” (2012).

“Moonrise Kingdom” (2012).

Photo: Indian Paintbrush – American Empirical – Scott Rudin Productions

The only policeman on an island off the coast of New England, Captain Sharp is desperately looking for young Suzy, daughter of his mistress, who ran away with a scout. Still a cop, but here in a much less serious register, Bruce Willis arouses an unprecedented tenderness.

Looper (Rian Johnson, 2012)

Looper (2012).

Looper (2012).

Photo: Alan Markfield – 2012 Looper, LLC. All rights reserved.

In the relatively near future, criminals get rid of troublesome witnesses by sending them to the past where they are murdered by “loopers”. Joe, one of these contract killers, discovers one day that the man he must kill is none other than an older version of himself… Chased by a Joseph Gordon-Levitt who looks like him like two drops of water, Bruce Willis finds here one of his best recent roles.

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Bruce Willis is ending his career: a look back at ten roles to save