An exclusive interview with… Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis is the world’s favourite action man, but he’s also a devoted dad of four and is enjoying being a new father again. LILY ROGERS finds out what makes the loveable rogue tick and why he feels he has nothing to prove…
Unlike some A-list movie stars who don’t always appreciate their good fortune, Bruce Willis has everything he wants – and he knows it. At 57, the action man still pulsates with energy, which is just as well given he has five movies out this year, a relentless schedule of films and promotion and a new baby daughter. Men half his age would be exhausted, but Bruce just grins that familiar sideways smile. “I’m happy every day,” he says. “There’s no turmoil. I just go to work and concentrate on coming home to my girls.”
Those glamorous girls include his daughters with ex-wife Demi Moore – Rumer, 24, Scout, 21, and Talullah, 18 – plus Mabel Ray, six months, with his second wife Emma Heming, a top model and the face of Dior in Asia. At 34, Emma is 23 years younger but is far from the adoring trophy starlet who drags her husband down the red carpet. “We live a very normal life, it’s effortless,” she said recently. “We know the places where the photographers aren’t lurking. We stay under the radar and don’t create that kind of circus around us.”
But while Bruce may now be happiest in the kitchen with his five favourite ladies, there was a time when he more than lived up to the bad-boy image created by his starring role in hot 80s’detective series Moonlighting. “There was a lot of dancing,” he smiles of his time in New York, back in his early 30s. “And, for a while, working fit in with all that. Moonlighting – that wasn’t acting. It was people telling me ‘Let’s create a character who is you – play him the way you are, the guy you are at night.’ It was fun,” he recalls. “It wasn’t tough, although I claimed it was!”
But Fun Bruce hasn’t left the building, he insists. “Now I’m fun with fewer people,” he shrugs. “I’m in love with my wife and my kids. Friends come over, the kids come over when they can. We eat dinner. And I’m happy to play along with their momentum.”
By all accounts, he’s a sincerely doting dad. Famously, he and Demi stayed friends after their break-up in 2000, and Bruce was often snapped out in LA with their girls, Demi and her then partner of nine years, Ashton Kutcher. Bruce won’t be drawn on his ex-wife’s marital troubles, but get him on the subject of child-rearing and he’s rattling off advice like action man bullets.
“You learn more by listening,” he laughs. “I learnt that from my kids. It applies in life, but it’s more about being a father. I’d rather hear what they have to say.” Another golden Bruce rule? “Take responsibility for when you’re wrong. They hear you own up and they learn to own up too.”
It’s clear Mabel is constantly on his mind, and even though she’s just six months old, the Willis training has already begun. “You have to give them a code,” he goes on. “Beginning with things like ‘Don’t bite people’! That then becomes something like ‘It’s not okay to be mean. Ever.’ That was the watchword when the girls were younger.” Most importantly, though, “I make them laugh.”
Making people laugh is a rare talent in an action man, but perhaps uniquely, the actor has carved out a career playing lone wolf heroes without losing his sense of humour. The success of the Die Hard films – the fifth, A Good Day To Die Hard, is out next year – is proof that we all love a man who can save people from a burning building with a wry quip along the way.