Bruce Willis has been in the entertainment industry since his big break on the hit television show, Moonlighting. Following that hit was Die Hard, which really catapulted his career and the A-list star has been at the top ever since. Willis has starred in numerous classics: The Sixth Sense, The Fifth Element, 12 Monkeys, Pulp Fiction, Unbreakable, and Looper are just some of the memorable movies in his filmography. However, as time went by, so did Willis’s appearance in big mainstream films. The failure of A Good Day To Die Hard notably sent a message that Willis wasn’t the big box office draw that he once was. Willis would pop in and out of big films from time to time, but it started to become noticeable that he was taking the Nicolas Cage route of accepting any film that would pay him his desired amount. For Cage, he made the big mistake of blowing his huge funds on some unnecessary purchases like haunted houses or dinosaur skulls. Eventually, Uncle Sam came knocking on his door, and Cage owed the government $14 million in taxes. However, the reasoning behind Willis suddenly making the jump to terrible B-movie schlock isn’t known. One of the possible reasons is that the actor has a bad reputation behind the scenes. This is going all the way back to his hit show, Moonlighting, in which Cybill Shepherd describes their hostile relationship off-camera:
“It’s hard to do a show and keep your relationships with everybody. I remember at one point in the show, it had gotten to where we just hated each other,” Shepherd told Entertainment Weekly in 2005. “It was a very volatile show anyway, but that’s also made it great.” Shepherd isn’t the only one that’s spoken out about Willis’s behavior. Kevin Smith has notably been vocal about his experience working with Willis on Cop Out, calling the veteran “difficult” and the experience “F**kin soul-crushing”. Sylvester Stallone also labeled Willis as “greedy” and “lazy” after the actor demanded $1 million per day for his work on Expendables 3. Willis was replaced with Harrison Ford. Though this behavior was nothing new from Willis, the reason that the actor had managed to get work for some long is due to the fact that he was a proven box office draw. Die Hard skyrocketed him to the top and Willis was consistently performing well. However, when the box office returns started to dry up, so did his career. To reinstate, this is all pure speculation as there’s no rumor that studio refuse to give Willis a part because of his behind-the-scenes behavior; however, some careers have notably fizzled out for that reason. Katherine Heigl, Steven Segal, Charlie Sheen, and Shia LaBeouf have documented history of bad behavior that has effectively ruined their careers. Willis started doing B-movies in 2014 by playing Omar in The Prince. That became his first feature that garnered a 0% rotten tomatoes score. He did more mindless, generic, action duds such as Extraction, Vice, Precious Cargo, and Reprisal. Every one of these low budget features contain the same performance from the Die Hard star, meaning a clearly bored and passionless expression. Every now and then, Willis would pop up in a mainstream movie, but only Glass and The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part has seen success for the action star. The charismatic and magnetic presence that Willis had in Die Hard is virtually non-existent in this terrible B-movie clunkers. Say what you will about Nicolas Cage, who’s been in some truly awful movies, but the actor does seem to put effort in most of his movies. More importantly, Cage has made some gems like Pig, Mandy, Color Out of Space, and Joe.
So, it’s clear that Willis is purely driven by money. To be clear, I’m not shaming the actor for trying to pay his bills and put food on his table. Every actor does their job expecting to get paid. However, all the joy in acting seems to be gone based on Willis’s performances. Currently, Willis has eight films that have 0% on rotten tomatoes. All of them are his bad action pics. With the string of bad movies late in his career, does it hurt Bruce Willis’s overall legacy? No. Yes, it’s sad to see the type of movies that Willis is making these days, but I can still watch films like Die Hard or The Sixth Sense and enjoy his performances. I never dwell on his bad films, nor does his current performances erase all the tremendous ones he’s given throughout the years. It would be great to see Willis return to form during his peak years of acting, but no matter the terrible schlock that he continues to churn out, he’ll still be recognized as one the great actors of our generation.