Back in April, when Red was shooting in New Orleans, I got to visit the set along with a few other online journalists (here’s my report). While we were told in advance that we might not get to speak with Bruce Willis, as morning turned into afternoon and after finishing lunch, we were rushed back to set as we were told Willis would have some time to talk with us and we didn’t want to miss his window of availability. The thing to know is, when you’re the star of the show and in almost every shot, you don’t have a lot of free time to talk to journalists.
While I’ve gotten to speak with a lot of actors, this was my first time getting to ask Bruce Willis some questions. I’ll admit, as a fan of Bruce Willis for what feels like my entire life, it was extremely cool to be able to take part in this interview.
As you might imagine, we talked about how he got involved in the project, since this is a PG-13 film was there was any competition for who gets to drop the F bomb, filming in New Orleans and Toronto, and a lot more. Also, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura joined him in the interview, so hit the jump to read or listen to what they had to say:
Finally, before getting to the interview, you should watch the trailer for RED because it looks awesome and a lot of fun.
Here’s the full transcript. Click here to listen to the audio from the interview. Red gets released October 15.
Bruce Willis walks over and brings a bag of Smarties. He throws them on the table and says “I have no idea what to say except for give me one of these.”
Question: Can you talk about how you got involved in the project?
Bruce Willis: No, can’t talk about that. I can only stay for a couple of minutes so I’m going to tell you this—Lorenzo [di Bonaventura] can tell you how I got involved in it, but I really want a Smartie. It’s a one of a kind thing. It’s hard to describe. It’s impossible to describe. Where are you guys from?
Willis: It’d be like you’re driving down the 405 freeway 80 miles per hour crazy trying to get home from work and all of a sudden you see three giraffes standing on the side of the 405. Or how many? It’d be 11 or 12 right? (Asking Mr. di Bonaventura) And you go, “I can’t believe that I’m seeing 12 giraffes on the side of the 405. This is a highly unusual sight to see.” I’ve never been in a film with so many movie stars. I’ve never been in a film with all of these people in it that are all like the Yankees. They are the Yankees. Everybody came in like Ted Williams Mickey Mantle, Derek, Babe Ruth—everybody steps up. Helen Mirren bang. She’s got a home run. Everybody that came in for a day or for a week or three days or two weeks everybody hit it out of the park. I fucked up a lot of these things so fortunately they have something else to cut to.
Q: Especially in a movie where you’re not expecting Helen to fire a 50 caliber weapon.
Willis: I can’t even imagine that scene. I wasn’t there when they shot that. I’m going to the movie just to see that. Richard Dreyfuss—that ball is outta here. Grand slam home run taped up.
Q: Are you glad there’s a more comedic side to your character instead of being more serious?
Willis: My character isn’t so comedy drive. He has a lot of issues. He has problems. He never really had a girlfriend because he was afraid that someone would kill his girlfriend so now it’s the first time in years that he’s going with the girlfriend concept. So that’s interesting. It’s somewhat comedic. I just kind of get the ball in and everybody hits it as hard as it comes and out it goes. Mary Louise Parker—hysterical. She’s really funny in this. Comedy, yes. Romance, yes. Blood, action—no blood, action yes. I actually get shot in the arm and a little tiny bit of blood comes out. If you get shot in the arm in real life, you’re arm comes off. It gets blown off.
Q: Karl Urban was talking about the fight scene you two have and how intense that was.
Willis: The fight scene I think is more than what anybody expected. I was watching a fight scene on the hotel TV from about 10 years ago—this is way better than that.
Q: It’s a close contact fight right?
Willis: Yeah, a lot of choking. It’s the most mixed martial arts stuff that I’ve ever seen in a film.
Q: Was it physically training for this role?
Willis: Briefly and then I was allowed to eat, but I stopped for awhile. You get cranky when you don’t eat. No carbs, no sugar—try it for one day. Hence no Smarties, no sugar. (He throws down the Smarties he was eating on the table.)
Q: Since this is a PG-13 film, was there any competition for who gets to drop the F bomb?
Willis: Yeah, it’s a pick em right now and two really good other fucks besides mine and mine is the third one so yeah, it’s a contest. We’re going to try to get Summit to give us a second fuck. Is that sick where we live in a world where my kids can go online and look at hardcore porn with no rating no nothing no breaks, but you can’t go to the movies and hear people say fuck more than one time. You can show people actually having sex with animals, but you can’t say fuck.. You can’t tell people what they’re doing.
Q: I think it should go to Helen?
Willis: I’m on my way to hell right now so it’s over for me. I can cuss all day long. Did you see Cop Out? Motherfucker, fuck, fuck. Fuck! Please you can’t print any of this. I just came over to talk to you guys. These are rolling are they? (Referring to our tape recorders.) Fucking shit. Fuck. Shit. Shit. Fuck. No blushing.
Q: I’m enjoying it.
Willis: Now we can start the interview.
Q: You’ve filmed in New Orleans and Toronto. What’s the best and worst part of both cities?
Willis: It was the coldest of times. It was the hottest of times. There was no in between. There was no nice balmy tropical weather. There really hasn’t been. It’s just blistering cold and ungodly hammers of hell hot.
di Bonaventura: The best thing you get to do is go out to dinner and both cities had some great restaurants so in a weird way that’s all we measure the cities by is can we go out and have a good meal easily?
Q: Well except for the fact that Bruce can’t eat?
di Bonaventura: Well he can look at it.
Willis: It’s like the teamster children.
di Bonaventura: Tell them the set up.
Willis: it’s a good set up. I’ll tell you the punch line after the movie comes out, but it’s hard to talk about the film. I was in such awe of everyone. I was so excited.
Q: Can you talk about your characters relationship with Mary Louise Parker’s in the film and what your take on it is?
Willis: That’s his girlfriend. He’s trying to keep her alive and himself alive. I can’t tell you what happens because we haven’t shot the end yet. Well we kinda have but did you see The Greatest Story Ever Told? It was on last night for Easter. Do you know the story? A guy from that movie is in our movie. Look it up. That’s your quiz for the day.
Q: You and John Malkovich and quite a back story in the film…
Willis: It changed a little bit. There’s a lot of chemistry on a lot of levels. I had chemistry and everybody else intermingle chemistry. It’s a highly chemical kind of movie. John and I got along great. It was great writing. Everybody had there scenes written really well. Mary Louise Parker spins gold out of one or two words out of a sentence and can make it into a great joke so it’s easy to act when—you’ve seen me in a film when it’s just been me by myself with a bunch of model robots that are a little but in the future. That was no fun. Working with other actors who can hit the ball right back to you and throw the back right back to you hot and give you something else you go, “I have to actually act now and think of something funny to say or do now.” So I had chemistry and everybody had intermingling chemistry.
di Bonaventura: That’s interesting because it started that Marvin (Malkovich) and Frank (Willis) were colder to each other than what’s happened in making the movie. As Marvin says to you, “Why are you here to kill me?” and his answer back is
Willis: “The last time we spoke you were trying to kill me.” But we filled in some of the blanks just around the story.
di Bonaventura: The last time Marvin and Frank saw each other, Marvin tried to kill Frank because he thought Frank was trying to kill him. So that’s an interesting set up for a relationship. It’s interesting because when you read it on paper, it reads one way. Then you suddenly see the two of them there and it becomes more emotional. You see there was loss there and the fact that they haven’t talked for awhile.
Willis: Did anybody read the script before we started shooting?
Q: Just the graphic novel.
Willis: We did. You can’t imagine who it’s going to be and to be sitting here talking about it now seeing all these people come in like James Remar. People showed up for a couple of days. Rebecca Pigeon. (SP) Joanne McMann (SP) Grand slam home run because that was what some actors would look at and say that was a throw away part and everybody came in and supped up their work. I think at least 50 % of them knew what they were walking into and then when they got on the set they were actually working with six or seven other great actors at the same time.
Q: What was the rehearsal process like?
Willis: Very little rehearsal. Everybody came in really prepared and ultra pros. The hardest thing was to get people to stop acting.
di Bonaventura: You guys were all about discovery too.
Willis: Yeah, because you would find something on take three that you didn’t do on the first take or that wasn’t on the page and you’d go off in that tangent. Some of that is going to stay.
di Bonaventura: It’s evolved a lot. It’s one of the reasons when you ask about the relationship, we had one idea in our head and now the movie has convinced us we have a different one. There’s probably a third one to appear.
Willis: So who knows what it’s going to be. I think it’s going to be great. It’s going to be interesting to watch. Helen Mirren with a 50 caliber wearing a cocktail dress.
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