MOTW: Bruce Willis Star Bio

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox
January 31st, 2013

MOTW: Bruce Willis Star Bio

Bruce Willis is a German-born American actor, producer, and musician known for his comedic, dramatic, and action roles. He is best known for his role as John McClane in the "Die Hard" movies. Willis has appeared in over sixty films, including "Pulp Fiction" (1994), "12 Monkeys" (1995), "The Fifth Element" (1997), "Armageddon" (1998), "The Sixth Sense" (1999), "Sin City" (2005), and "Looper" (2012), all of which were box offices hits. Over the course of his career he has won two Emmys, a Golden Globe Award, and has been nominated four times for the Saturn Award.

Early Life

Bruce Willis was born Walter Bruce Willis on March 19, 1955, in West Germany. The oldest of four children, his family moved to the United States in 1957 after his father was discharged from the army. Willis developed an interest in the theater during high school, after he realized that performing in front of large groups of people fixed a stuttering problem he had developed.

After high school, Willis found work as a security guard at a nuclear power plant. He eventually returned to acting and enrolled in the drama program at Montclair State University in New Jersey. However, he dropped out of college after his sophomore year and moved to New York City in an attempt to make it as an actor. Willis supported himself in New York by working as a bartender and waiting tables. He auditioned for roles when he could.

Early Career

In 1977, Willis landed a role in the off-Broadway play "Heaven and Earth." He continued gaining exposure on the stage until 1980, when he was able to make the jump over to film with a bit role in a Frank Sinatra film called "The First Deadly Sin." In 1982, he scored another minor part in a film starring Paul Newman, "The Verdict." During this time, Willis also made occasional appearances on TV shows such as "Hart to Hart" and "Miami Vice".

Bruce Willis' big break came in 1984, when he landed the role as David Addison for the television series "Moonlighting," which also starred Cybill Shepherd. The show ran for five seasons and established Willis as a comedic actor. In 1987, Willis returned to the big screen in the movie "Blind Date," which he starred in alongside actress Kim Basinger. That same year, Willis married actress Demi Moore and released an album on Motown Records, "Return to Bruno." One popular song on that album was "Respect Yourself."

Box Office Success

In 1988, Bruce Willis starred in his first Blockbuster hit, "Die Hard." The movie raked in $81 million at the domestic box office and spawned three sequels. A year after "Die Hard," Willis provided the voice for Mikey, the witty, observant baby in "Look Who's Talking" (Willis reprised the role in "Look Who's Talking Too"). The fact that Willis could so easily jump between action and comedy roles proved him to be a truly versatile actor.

Career Slump

The early '90s saw a series of box office failures and unmemorable projects from Willis. His role as an English tabloid journalist in the film "Bonfire of the Vanities" (1990) got mixed reviews, while the 1991 release "Hudson Hawk," which Willis both wrote and starred in, proved to be a box office flop.


Willis experienced a comeback in 1994 when he took on the role of Butch Coolidge in Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction". Willis opted for a smaller salary in exchange for a share of the profits, and the film ended up grossing more than $100 million.

A steady stream of hits followed, including "Die Hard: With a Vengeance," "Twelve Monkeys" (1995), "The Fifth Element" (1997), and "Armageddon"(1998). Willis made some cinematic flops during this time period as well, such as "The Jackal," "Mercury Rising," and "Breakfast of Champions," though his box office successes seemed to balance out his box office failures. In 1999, he starred in one of his most memorable roles as child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe in "The Sixth Sense."

2000 and Beyond

Bruce Willis has continued to remain active in the twenty-first century. He made guest appearances on television sitcoms such as "Mad About You," "Friends," and "Ally McBeal" in the late '90s and early 2000's. In 2010, Willis starred in "The Expendables" with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jean-Claude Van Damme. In 2012, the cast reunited for a sequel, which brought in nearly $28.1 million in the first week alone. In recent years, Willis starred in "Sin City" and "Live Free or Die Hard."

Personal Life

Bruce Willis married actress Demi Moore in 1987. They remained married for thirteen years, then divorced in 2000. They have three daughters together: Rumor Willis (born in 1988), Scout LaRue Willis (born in 1991), and Tallulah Belle Willis (born in 1994). Bruce Willis married his second wife, model Emma Heming, in 2009. The couple have one daughter together, Mabel Ray Willis, who was born in 2012.