“He had been spoiled by success for so long”: Bruce Willis’ Extreme Fame Landed Him in Trouble That Forced Director to Take One Extreme Step

“He had been spoiled by success for so long”: Bruce Willis’ Extreme Fame Landed Him in Trouble That Forced Director to Take One Extreme Step

Bruce Willis’ combination of alpha male charisma and talent for delivering clever one-liners is what differentiates him and why he’s regarded as a Hollywood legend. He’s most famous for his roles in big-budget action movies, especially the Die Hard series.

Bruce Willis

The actor has garnered numerous awards, including a Golden Globe Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and two People’s Choice Awards. In no time, he has positioned himself as one of the leading actors in the Hollywood industry. But his success landed him in trouble when he was doing Terry Gilliam’s film 12 Monkeys. 

It is a movie about a convict named James Cole (from 2035), who is sent back in the past to gather information about the man-made virus that killed most of the human population. He can get the freedom if he agrees to change the course of history.

Bruce Willis Became a Major Tension on the Set of 12 Monkeys

Bruce Willis as James Cole

Bruce Willis as James Cole in 12 Monkeys

Director Terry Gilliam and nine other people involved in the making of this 1996 sci-fi cult classic were present in an interview with Inverse. The director said that during the production of the film, there was tension because Willis had developed an inflated ego on set:

“Bruce was trying incredibly hard to just be an actor at work, but he had been spoiled by success for so long. So he was in many ways like a kid who was pushing the limits constantly and then coming up with stupid excuses for being late on the set.”

Gilliam said the team took a major step and allowed the actor to take a long weekend off. So that they can anticipate a change in his behavior. But when Willis returned, he had again become the “Bruce Willis Superstar.” As he said:

We let Bruce go away for a long weekend and he came back and suddenly he was Bruce Willis Superstar again.”

Editor Mick Audsley went on to say that when he transformed again into his real personality, they tried every possible way but couldn’t bring back the Willis they had initially cast:

“He became the Die Hard man with his pouty mouth. Then we decided to see if we could rescue our Bruce, which we couldn’t. He got re-molded back to the character.”

Charles Roven added that “those were tense conversations, but ultimately it all worked out, clearly.”

Also read: Bruce Willis Hated the Notion of Being Forced To Retire, Claimed “I think I’ll just keep working” in a Heartbreaking Resurfaced Interview From 2010

Terry Gilliam Didn’t Want to Cast Bruce Willis in 12 Monkeys Initially

Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam was concerned to cast Bruce Willis in his film

Terry Gilliam, the director of 12 Monkeys rejected Tom Cruise and Nicolas Cage for the lead role in his sci-fi film. Initially, he also had reservations about casting Bruce Willis, but the actor eventually took on the role.

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of 12 Monkeys, Gilliam revealed in an interview with Inverse why he did not want Willis to appear in the film when he was at the peak of his Die Hard success. The director said of Willis:

“I had never been a great fan of Bruce’s before, but I liked talking to him, and I thought, ‘OK, this guy’s smart; he’s funny.”‘

He continued:

“I explained to him my concerns about him as an actor. I hated the Trumpian mouth he does in films. Rectal. It’s like I’m looking at somebody’s asshole.”

Despite this, Willis got to star in Gilliam’s film alongside Brad Pitt. Gilliam also said that Pitt initially hoped to get the part of James Cole, which went to Willis.