Bruce Willis hasn’t been on a PR winning streak lately. First, he had that awkward and somewhat cantankerous interview on the press tour for Red 2, then the anecdotal evidence points to Sylvester Stallone calling him “greedy and lazy” on twitter after announcing that Willis would not return for Expendables 3.
Now, in a new interview with Spanish magazine XLS, Willis has revealed that he is “bored” with starring in action films, but that he “does like to earn lots of money” from them.
Here’s the full quote:
“Explosions are one of the most boring parts of my job […] When you have seen a few fireballs, its not exciting anymore. I know part of my audience enjoys the explosions, but to be honest, I’m a bit bored of it now.”
“I am very clear with who I am […] I work in all sorts of films, but the action movies are the ones that generate the most revenue. I like to earn lots of money from those, but I do all types: small productions, mega-projects, medium sized, even science fiction.”
Now, this kind of honesty is rare. Usually, everything is rainbows and puppy dogs during a press tour because anything else would be incongruent with the acknowledged goal of these things.
Why is that? It seems as though people don’t like it when an actor admits to a love of commerce or admits that acting is their job. We crave some kind of artisinal craftsmen’s pride in every film and TV project.
“Lie to us!” we psychically scream, begging our artists to protect our fantasy and validate the notion that we are connoisseurs of good not mere consumers.
We want to be told that something was a labor of love or fiercely innovative. They did it for art, they did it for the experience of working with XYZ , or because the story spoke to them in a deep and meaningful way.
We draw a line and fail to acknowledge the existence of the grey area. To choose an endeavor for art is laudable, anything else is allegedly without honor. End of story, but it’s a bullshit story.
I say good for Bruce Willis. He has a marketable skill, he is a product that moves off the shelf when it is put on a low enough shelf, and so he embraces that. That his inner artist is howling out in the dark, praying for something more doesn’t earn sympathy, but it’s also not surprising.
Willis has, over the course of his career, bobbed when he could have weaved and weaved on more than one occasion. He’s right when he says that he does all types, though “does” may be the wrong tense.
Regardless of his recent track record, though, Bruce Willis is a talent, I’m a fan, and I’m happy when he does something that feels daring or at least different — something like Moonrise Kingdom, Looper, Breakfast of Champions, The Sixth Sense, and Pulp Fiction — but I understand that people like money and money is good.
If Bruce Willis wants to occasionally (or regularly) make lesser fare for easier money, he won’t be the first or last actor to take the vilified expressway over the glorified dirt road, and I’m sure I and many others will watch — sometimes with gritted teeth (like when his co-star is 50 Cent), and sometimes with rapt enjoyment. Why? Because at the end of the day, that’s John McClane up there, and he’s handing out ass kickings like Gideon’s pass out Bibles.
UPDATE: According to The Huffington Post, Willis’ reps have denied that their client said these words and they have indicated that there was an issue with the translation. No word on what Willis did say.
For the record, I think the above words still resonate, because at some point, someone will say something along these lines and people will sprint to call them a sellout, placating this bizarre notion about our desire for actors to have unrealistically pure motives.
Why were Willis’ now apparently false remarks controversial? That is still a really good question.