Bruce Willis and Quint chat RED, Dreyfuss, Borgnine and Rian Johnson's LOOPER!!!
Published at: July 30, 2010, 3:05 p.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I can’t tell you how happy I am to post this 1:1 interview with Bruce Willis in amongst the massive and continually insightful and entertaining Sly Stallone Q&A. It just feels right, you know?
I was a little nervous going into this chat. I’d heard Willis could be a dry interview and I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case here. I really dug the RED footage I saw, that new trailer which plays up the comedy (and, more importantly, the Borgnine) really works for me.
So, I knew I had stuff to talk to Willis about, but if he wasn’t game it was going to be a scary 10 minutes. Well, the chat went exceedingly well… so well, in fact, that Willis shunned the publicist when she came in to wrap up the interview with a polite “we’re still talking.” We bullshit a lot about how awesome Ernest Borgnine and Richard Dreyfuss are, he tells me an excellent Frank Sinatra story from his younger acting days and then we close out talking about Rian Johnson’s LOOPER.
Apologies for the pictures being a little stylized. Kraken could only grab a couple really quickly and didn’t have the luxury or playing with the settings and my photo undarkening skills are weak at best.
Enjoy the chat!
Quint: I have to say, when I was a little kid my family made it a big thing every week to watch gather friends over and watch the new MOONLIGHTING episode.
Bruce Willis: I remember those days.
Quint: I have very vivid memories of that. We also saw the DIE HARD movies in the theater, so it was a big thing when…
Bruce Willis: God, how old were you when you saw… Come on, that was a long time ago!
Quint: It was. It was. Let’s see, the first one I was six or seven.
Bruce Willis: Oh, Christ.
Quint: I’m sorry.
Bruce Willis: You know what, I’m sorry. It was the first time… you watch TV and you saw that film pretty close to each other and on TV you can’t cuss. I go to do that film and they say, “Well, it’s going to be R rated.” I say, “Does that mean we cuss?” and Joel Silver was on the film and he goes “Yeah, you can cuss.”
A few years later I got a letter from my aunt, my Aunt Irene in Kentucky, and she says, “I like the film, but there’s just too much cussing,” so we went back… Not because of that, but I like to think that it’s because of that… and went back and did a version that’s a little cleaner, so…
Quint: It’s always fun when…
Bruce Willis: But for six year olds, I look around the theater some time like “Wow, this is screwed up.”
Quint: Yeah, no I had cool parents and I was in love with movies. I just grown up with all sorts of films, some way outside my age range.
Bruce Willis: Man, I would sneak into stuff.
Quint: It was actually a big event going to see DIE HARD 2 opening weekend. For whatever reason that was like the event that my family, who didn’t all go out to movies together a lot.
Bruce Willis: It was an event at that time. These films were like big weekend films that you liked.
I remember my father telling my sister, me, and all of my kid friends in the neighborhood probably twelve or thirteen years old… I could look it up and tell you… or maybe even younger, to get into see BONNIE AND CLYDE.
Quint: Oh yeah?
Bruce Willis: And it was a big deal to get in, because it was very violent at the end and my father said, “You’re not going,” so then we had to go see it.
Quint: And that made you want to see it more, yeah?
Bruce Willis: Yeah. Just tell me I can’t do it, I’m not allowed to do it, and of course I’m going to go.
Quint: I love that Richard Dreyfuss is in this movie. The guy is one of my favorite on-screen personalities...
Bruce Willis: Me, too. I actually got to know him when I was living in Sun Valley and you know Sun Valley is kind of a non-movie star kind of place and I wasn’t going to go “Hey man, fucking JAWS is a masterpiece,” but my wife and I just watched… I think first we watched CLOSE ENCOUNTERS…
Quint: He is so good in that.
Bruce Willis: He’s phenomenal. And then we watched JAWS. We went to try and find it. It’s not anywhere. It’s not on Apple TV. It’s not on any TV. It never comes around on like HBO or any of those things. I guess you can rent it somewhere. I got it from Netflix and it came in the mail and we were like “Oh God!” We watched it at eleven in the morning maybe a week and a half ago. You could put it in the theaters right now.
Quint: Absolutely. There is all of this talk of how Spielberg was playing with the idea of CGIing some effects and all of this stuff and re-releasing it and I’m like “You don’t understand, for all of this talk about how fake the shark is, you’re into the movie and it doesn’t matter.”
Bruce Willis: Just put it up on the screening.
Quint: It would take you out of the movie if anything.
Bruce Willis: The opening scene is like “Wow.”
Quint: It’s brutal!
Bruce Willis: And Roy Scheider is just great. Those guys are great and Robert Shaw is just… His speech, I’d go to see it in the theater right now. They should re-release JAWS. They should just put that movie out. It is really, really good.
John Malkovich and I, we were just like two little kids going “Oh my God, I’m going to work with JAWS! It’s Richard Dreyfuss!” and man, he came in and hit it out of the park. He’s just great.
Quint: Have you seen THE GOODBYE GIRL as well?
Bruce Willis: I have. I saw it about two years ago, but my wife hadn’t seen it, so I said “You’ve got to watch this” and you know (he won) Best Actor.
Quint: What I love is that he kind of looks like Hooper. He’s still got the beard. He still wears the same little sailor hat, the kind of cheap wool hat. It’s like you can almost view that as the continuing adventures of Matt Hooper.
Bruce Willis: I just loved him.
Quint: Was he cool to work with? I’ve talked to a couple of people, like Edward Norton, and he just worked with him on LEAVES OF GRASS and he had nothing but great things to say about the guy. He just said that when he feels appreciated and feels like he contributes something…
Bruce Willis: And he was appreciated. Everybody was like “It’s Richard Dreyfuss, man!” He’s huge. He’s in the pantheon of actors and he was excited, so he would find stuff and he would go (in Richard Dreyfuss voice) “Well you know, what about this?” and “Why don’t you guys just really tape me into this chair?” and we were going “Yeah, we’ll tape you into the chair buddy” and he was great, just great.
Quint: And also Borgnine, another reason why I love that trailer. It’s Ernest Borgnine and he’s still awesome. I’m such a huge Borgnine fan, man. That guy can do no wrong in my book.
Bruce Willis: Huge fan. The Wild Bunch!
Quint: Wild Bunch and Escape From New York… and Emperor of the North Pole, have you ever seen that?
Bruce Willis: Oh yeah, with him and Lee Marvin? Oh God! What is it… A NUMBER 1? One of those guys is called A NUMBER 1.
Quint: In ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, right?
Bruce Willis: That’s not it. I’m thinking of the train, him and Lee Marvin on a train.
Quint: Yeah, that’s Emperor of the North Pole…
Bruce Willis: Is that it?
Quint: It’s where Bognine’s the crazy bum-killing conductor and Lee Marvin is like the King Bum during the depression era.
Bruce Willis: What about the Frank Sinatra movie? Where Sinatra won “Best Supporting Actor.” The black and white picture where they are in the army… Sorry, I’ve just talked too much today, but it will come to me in one second… From Here to Eternity!
Quint: Oh yeah! It’s a classic.
Bruce Willis: So anyway, we’re all going “Oh, man! Ernest Borgnine is in this movie, I can’t believe it!” We had him for one day. Karl (Urban) did a scene with him and I did a scene with him and wow.
Quint: And he was still sharp?
Bruce Willis: Way sharp. He’s 93 years old and way sharp. He comes out and he sits down and tells us stories. When I was a kid in New York I had worked for about three weeks or maybe a little bit longer, maybe a month as… Excuse me.
[A group of Summit executives come up and grab Bruce for a moment. Man hugs all around]
Bruce Willis: The Summit guys. Man, they are having a great couple of years, aren’t they?
Quint: And they are taking chances too, which is more than you can say about most studios out there.
Bruce Willis: I love them and they like fresh blood and just going “Yeah, lets get it out there.”
Quint: I like that they are taking the TWILIGHT money and actually doing something interesting with it, you know?
Bruce Willis: And making great movies and risky stuff. It’s not just “Let’s just do one of the three things that everybody goes to see.” But back to Ernest Borgnine…
… I was an extra or photo double on a Frank Sinatra film.
Quint: No way, really?
Bruce Willis: THE FIRST DEADLY SIN. So I got to hang around the set and they were shooting nights and Frank Sinatra would come out. He would have some… you know. We were shooting in a bar, so we’d just get him talking and all of the young actors just try to ask… like after a long night when we are all just sitting there in the bar, we’d ask him questions and just get him telling us stories.
He told us a story about how in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY his character has to hit Ernest Borgnine in the head with a bar stool and he said “Mr. Borgnine, this bar stool doesn’t have any padding on it or anything, maybe we should put a pad on it.” Then Ernest Borgnine looked at Frank Sinatra and he does “Hit me with your best shot, kid” and that’s what’s in the film. You look at it and it’s a hard wood bench and Frank Sinatra lets him have one and Ernest Borgnine just goes [makes a badass stare-down face] and there’s this great brawl and it’s just great, so yeah I was a big fan.
Quint: That’s great. Now I think you might be working with a friend of mine, Rian Johnson, on his flick Looper…
Bruce Willis: Oh cool, yeah I am. I love that script. Love that script.
Quint: I’m very much looking forward to that.
Bruce Willis: That script is in a handful of scripts that I read and said yes to right away. I was like “This is unbelievable.” It’s really smart and the idea that it’s a big idea of time travel and the first page or second page he says, “Yeah, but it’s not that big a deal. They didn’t invent anything after that, so everybody said ‘Fuck it!’ Time travel!”
Quint: And it’s very illegal, that’s all you’ve got to know.
Bruce Willis: It’s just against the law and it’s so cool. I can’t wait.
Quint: And it’s really dark.
Bruce Willis: Really dark.
Quint: I read it after I had heard that you were going to be involved with it and, in terms of the tone, it reminded me a lot of TWELVE MONKEYS, so I can see where they were able to hook you…
Bruce Willis: Yes. That’s a great call, it really is, and hopefully we can shoot it like that. A guy goes back to kill himself, his own younger self? How is that…. I want to go see it right away.
Quint: And I love the whole concept of being able to track the looper by… or to blackmail them essentially into turning themselves in.
Bruce Willis: You know where you are going to be.
Quint: And suddenly fingers start disappearing and all of that stuff, it’s such a crazy…
Bruce Willis: It’s such a huge leap and yet the story is… I love time travel. It’s really smart and yet it’s not about time travel as much as it is about mistakes you have made and things you don’t want to do and your little childhood self coming near your adult life going “No, you’re not going to do that. I’ve got to fucking kill me.” It’s great, so yeah I’m really excited about that.
Quint: He’s a great shooter. I spent some time on BROTHERS BLOOM, just as a guest on the set watching him work. He is so into it, but he is also so composed and he has everything ready.
Bruce Willis: Oh good. There is a lot that has to be gotten ready for that story, but I can’t wait. I’m really excited about it.
And this film (Red)… I’ll talk to you again. You should come back, because we haven’t shown the film to an audience yet, so this is the first time we are really talking about it and I’ve just seen… I saw a really rough cut and he said “Forget that, it’s way down the road” and they just (test) screened it the other night and people were laughing all the way through it and people stood up at the end, which doesn’t always happen. They clapped. And it’s still rough.
So, we will talk more about it.
Quint: Cool. We’ll figure out something! Thanks for the chat!
Hope you guys dug the talk! I’ve talked with the Summit lady about doing an hour long AICN Legends style interview with Ernest Borgnine and I’m hoping to all that is holy that one comes through. I mean, even an hour wouldn’t be enough with that guy… he’s made, like, 48,270 movies, of which 48,122 are great!
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