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mainly gossip about Bruce Willis

Interview about “16 Blocks”

Posted by Janett on July 1, 2007

16blocks_03.jpgBruce Willis: Chipping Off the Old Block

Source: Edward Douglas

February 28, 2006

Bruce Willis’ new movie 16 Blocks is a New York police story, directed by Richard Donner, in which he plays middle-aged detective Jack Mosely, who is assigned to escort a talkative witness (Mos Def) to the courthouse to testify against corrupt policemen, who will do anything to keep them from getting there.
When Willis talked to and various other publications and sites a couple weeks back, New York City had been covered with its biggest snowfall in years, and Willis certainly was in a mood that day, letting loose with a bunch of rants about politics, religion, Oprah and other things that have very little to do with the movie. You can find some of that stuff elsewhere on the Web, but if you’re reading this just because you’re interested in Willis’ latest movie, then read on!

CS: You’ve portrayed so many different kinds of cops in movies. What was it about this one that fascinated you?
Bruce Willis: It’s partly because I’m from South Jersey, and I have a strong affinity towards working class people. I believe that any job that requires you to possibly get shot at or get shot dead, you should be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for. These guys don’t get paid anything, yet they go out there and do it, and there’s not a lot of them out there. They are the last line between us and the wolves and the chaos that’s out in the world. All these guys–cops, EMT workers, men and women, emergency room doctors and nurses, people that every night have to see horrific things–there should be thousands of films done about these guys. And they should get paid more money. A lot more money, I think.

CS: Between the moustache, the booze paunch and the gimpy leg, this is one of your great characters roles. Do you consider doing this to be a big risk, because it’s not Bruce Willis, macho action star?
Willis: I never consider any of those things. They’re all elements in the script. It never said that I had to be overweight, but I’ve known guys who are capable of drinking a bottle and a half of Scotch a night, and they’re a little overweight. I think they call it booze weight. So I thought it would help. But everything else–the limp, the attitude and how beat up he is–were all written by Richard Wenk, the screenwriter. But that said, it could have just been another stupid run-down-the-street… or limp-down-the street Bruce Willis film. This film didn’t really come together till Mos Def showed up with the character. No one knew what he was going to do. All we knew was that we were fortunate enough to get him, and he showed up with a character that was just genius. That’s not him. He doesn’t talk like that. He doesn’t act like that. He’s a very smart creative young man. It changed the fabric of the film, and it changed the way we all looked at the film. There is sort of a spontaneous chemistry happening in this film that I’m not sure would have happened had it been another actor.

CS: Is it true that you called Mos Def to convince him to do this movie?
Willis: We were friends. I’ve known him for a while, and I first saw him in “Monster’s Ball,” very different from this. I said, “Man, you’re just a tremendous actor,” and he said “I’m doing this play Top Dog Underdog, in New York, and if you come through there, come see the show” which I did, and we started hanging out. When we were going through the casting process, I said that I know this guy, and was told that he passed. I called him up, and he was in Florida getting ready to do an album, and I said, “You should take a look at this. It’s a terrific, really good part.” I think this is a career-making role for him, and I think people are going to see him in a much different way. I love him and he’s just like a little angel and in real life too. But in this movie he really has an angelic quality, which just comes out of him. He’s not acting that, it’s just Mos. I was asked yesterday how it felt working with a rapper-turned-actor. I don’t think about him in that way at all. I think that he is an actor, and if he wants to do poetry, then he can do that. If he wants to rap, then he can do that. But he is an actor and he’s a very creative guy. And everybody benefited from his performance in this film. Especially me and my character.

CS: Richard Donner says that you’re a brave actor who likes to take chances, and that this was the right time for you to play this character. Do you agree with that?
Willis: Well, that’s a very nice compliment. I don’t think I could’ve played Jack Mosely 10 years ago. I knew when I was in my 30s that by the time I got into my 40s and late 40s that I would know so much more about life and have lived more life. It just allowed me to give this character a different worldview than I had when I was in my 30s. And there are just such better parts now. There’s just so much cooler things to be able to do. You’ve all seen it, you’ve all read it, you’ve all seen the little things trying to make you feel less of a man because you’re losing your hair, but they can all suck my… you know what I mean? I’m a man and I will kick anybody’s ass who tries to tell me that I’m not a man because my hair’s thinning, and I like fooling around with looking different ways. I mean, look, I wear makeup in films. I don’t wear makeup in real life. It’s just part of the gig, that’s all. You wear clothes and you gain weight and you lose weight.

CS: He also mentioned that the worn-down look in Jack’s eyes was so important to the character. What did you think about to get that?
Willis: I don’t like the world. I don’t think it’s being run correctly and I think it could be done a lot better. Because I’m old enough to have grown up at a time when Jack Kennedy got shot, I remember when the news was just “Here’s what happened and we’re going to show you what it is.” Now the news is manipulated and managed and it’s all meant to scare you. They don’t show you anything good. They don’t show you anything good coming out of Iraq; all they say is this many dead since Bush took office. I went over and saw things for myself, and there’s a lot of jacked up things. So that’s where that look comes from. I don’t have to look too far to find it. All you got to do is think about the world my daughters will inherit and I get that look in my eyes.

CS: Why did you want to make a movie about police corruption?
Willis: The story in this film is kind of a microcosmic view of the chaos in the world. I personally feel that the world is out of control, and we can’t affect the politicians, we can’t get the lobbyists out of Washington, we can’t connect with our senators and congressmen who don’t give a sh*t about us. They’re just up there, and it just seems that their job is to do nothing, is to give the appearance of them doing something but they’re not doing anything. And money corrupts. It’s all about money and everybody needs money. If cops were paid $150,000 a year, instead of $40 thousand, to get shot at every night, and have 5 kids that you’ve got to put through school, not going to happen. And as a man, in this modern world, we’re still the hunter-gatherers. We have to protect our family and we protect the cave, you want a house where your kids are safe and you’re going to do whatever that takes. And sometimes it takes breaking the law and becoming corrupt. Money does corrupt.

CS: What about the themes of redemption in the film? Can you talk about those?
Willis: What you’re talking about really are morality plays and these stories have been around since the Greeks were doing it in the amphitheater. It makes people feel good, and it gives people hope because if you went to see “16 Blocks” and David Morse’s character got away with it and killed Mos Def and me, you’d say, “Don’t go see this film. It’s so depressing.” You won’t go see it. We hold out hope with this film and that’s what people want. I started to say this earlier that this film is a microcosm of the chaos that exists in the world. All you’ve got to do is turn on the news to get depressed. Watch the news for five minutes and you’re going, “Oh my God, the world is falling to pieces.” And it may be, but there are some good things happening out there. I like films that deal with that theme.

CS: Is it true that you attended the aftermath of a shootout with a detective? How disturbing was that?
Willis: It was definitely disturbing. Nobody likes to see that. But it goes on every night and maybe 1 or 2 things are reported, but we kind of go for the sensational now in the news. I don’t watch the news. I’ve turned it off and I feel so much better for it. I wanted to get out there on that shift that those guys work. I haven’t done it for a while. They’re dealing with things that nobody in this room or city wants to deal with and they’ve been dealing with it for less than 50 grand a year and after taxes how much is that? 35 maybe? You can’t feed your family on that.

CS: So you’ve done quite a few movies with numbers in the titles. What’s your affinity for numbers?
Willis: It’s just a coincidence. I dunno. It’s easier for people to remember the names I guess, but I don’t know. Are you asking me about numerology? I don’t believe any of that sh*t. I believe there are a lot of things in the world that happen that are inexplicable but still happen, and I accept that. That, to me, is part of what I call God, but organized religion, you can set on fire.

CS: Early in your career, did you see yourself gravitating to different types of characters and trying to be flexible?
Willis: I’ve done different kinds of films, but not all of them get seen. In the last two years I’ve done a different bunch of films that all seem to be coming out in 5 months of each other and they’re very different. “Lucky Number Slevin” is a really great movie. Wait till you see “Alpha Dog.” It really represents what’s happening in the Valley in California, these kids are getting high all day long. No “Sin City 2,” talking about a prequel. I did “Over the Hedge”; that is really funny. It has jokes for kids in there, but also a lot of jokes for adults. They’re all different, but I don’t have a plan to say I want to do THIS film because I want to make THIS statement. I think my job is to be entertaining. If you’re going to come out of your house, park your car, buy food and popcorn and sit in a movie theatre, instead of sitting in front of that big flat screen where you can just watch the DVD, it’s our job to be entertaining.

CS: What do you think of the chasm between what the critics seem to like and what audiences want to see?
Willis: Hollywood’s changed a great deal since 9/11. It’s a much more cautious time in Hollywood now and it’ll come back. It’ll change. When five different films of different genres come out and make $150 million each or $200 million each, it’ll go back. They’ll start spending money again. But it really is a cautious period of austerity in Hollywood.

CS: Do you think this year’s Oscar nominated films are telling Hollywood to concentrate on story and character?
Willis: I don’t know the answer to that so it’s just as good a theory as any. I don’t think the Academy has much influence over what films Hollywood chooses to make. Nobody knew that the films that got nominated were going to make the kind of noise that they did, so it’s all a crapshoot. In this film, if we hadn’t gotten Mos Def, if we hadn’t had a great script, if we hadn’t had Richard Donner, this could’ve been another film that came and went and became a little round disc, a little piece of software and that’s really where it’s going. It’s almost like the movie is the commercial for the DVD sale, because that’s what they want. Let me tell you something, Jack, that little round disc is going to be around forever. People have collections of those now and when one of them wears out, they’ll go out and get it again. I watch films all the time, and I still watch them over and over and over. I watch “Goodfellas” once a week on DVD. I watch “Strangelove” four or five times a year. I watch old movies and new movies and that’s how people are seeing it now. I can’t go out and see “Dr. Strangelove” in any movie theater. In New York, they used to have great revival houses. They don’t have that now so you’ve got to do it. You’ve got to watch them on DVDs.

CS: Entertainment Weekly says that one film they never want to see is “Die Hard 4.” Does that surprise you since all the fans want to see it? And would you still do it?
Willis: Did you just say Entertainment Weekly? Do you work for them? Entertainment Weekly hates me. They’ve hated me since they’ve been a magazine. F**k ’em… and you can go and tell them that. Why? Because I’m a threat to them. Why does anybody hate anybody? Because they have some beef. Who cares? They can all b**w me. Yes, I would like to see “Die Hard 4” happen. If it happens, if they get the script right, yeah, I’d consider it.


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