Action with a Willis wink
BRUCE Willis is one of the biggest action stars on the planet but fast cars and guns don’t really interest him. ‘‘All I’m really trying to be is entertaining and the action sequences are just part of a certain kind of entertainment. And it’s not my favourite kind of entertainment,’’ Willis says.
‘‘I like to try and make people laugh more than I like to fight in films.’’
The 58-year-old actor is back on the big screen in Red 2, the sequel to the successful 2010 film Red, in which Willis, John Malkovich and Dame Helen Mirren played retired CIA agents working to uncover a hightech assassin who’s threatened the peaceful life of former black ops agent Frank Moses (Willis).
This time, the team assembles to track down a missing, lethal device that could change the balance of world power, with Frank’s relationship with Sarah (MaryLouise Parker), the customer services agent he met in the first movie, at the core of the story.
Unequipped to handle a basic relationship and keen to look after his ‘‘fragile china doll’’, Frank wants to live a content and quiet life, while Sarah’s concerned things are getting a little stale and is keen to get in on any action.
Would Willis agree they’re stuck in a rut? There’s a very long pause as he considers the question.
‘‘I like the idea of being awkward about romance,’’ he says slowly.
‘‘Because I think in real life I do an OK job at being romantic. But I also enjoy the character in this film, especially as Red 2 was written in that direction.’’
The movie is epic in its scale, taking in Paris, London and Tokyo, but Willis was more concerned that the script hit the right tone.
‘‘When we did the first film, it was very ambitious and it’s not often they (the money men) try to make something that has action, romance and comedy all in the same film,’’ he says.
Red 2 opens today.
Despite the 18-month gap between movies, Willis says ‘‘it was as if we’d just seen each other the day before’’ when the actors reunited.
‘‘Everyone was already in character and showed up ready to play. I like to work in ensemble casts and I like to work with this group of actors especially,’’ he says.
‘‘All we do all day long is try and make each other laugh and hopefully that gets on to the screen and you’ll find some of it funny, too.’’
Willis became interested in drama at high school and honed his craft after college in several plays before landing the lead in an off-Broadway production of Fool For Love in 1984. ‘‘If you talk about difficult acting, it’s theatre,’’ he says. ‘‘There’s no second take and it creates much more fear than making films.’’
Willis has since become famous for his roles in action movies such as the Die Hard franchise – a genre that requires an actor to stay in good nick.
‘‘Vanity plays a big part in staying in shape. I have to think about the food I eat and picking up weights,’’ he says.
Willis’s films have grossed more than $US1 billion ($1.12 billion) at the box office.
‘‘I try not to take it very seriously. It’s a difficult thing if you take yourself or what you do seriously,’’ he says.
Willis is grateful he’s able to work with his wife of four years, Emma Heming, and their 16-month-old daughter, Mabel, close by.
‘‘I’m fortunate that I get to bring my family with me when I travel,’’ he says.
‘‘It would be impossible, unbearable for anyone I was working with, if I didn’t have them with me because I’d be moaning about it.’’
– SUSAN GRIFFIN
Bruce Willis (centre) as retired CIA black ops agents Frank Moses with Mary-Louise Parker as his beloved Sarah Ross and John Malkovich as Marvin Boggs in a scene from Dean Parisot’s film