When Bruce Willis first took the stage in the mid-’70s in a student production of ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,’ he probably didn’t think he would become one of the staple names in cinema for three decades. 

An always sarcastic figure, tough on the outside but with a soft heart, the prototype of a man who perhaps never existed who shaped an exciting career for himself, who began as a romantic lead and ended up falling into the pit of direct-to-video B-movies before to retire due to aphasia, as we learned yesterday.

But let the last decade not cloud the successes of Bruce Willis , the man who saved his family in the Nakatomi Building, dressed as a pink rabbit, worked with Wes Anderson, Terry Gilliam and Quentin Tarantino and finally received his absolute confirmation as action hero appearing in Sylvester Stallone’s battle royale. It is time to review the greatest successes of an actor we will miss. His career began as an extra in ‘Final Verdict’ and has culminated after four decades leaving behind mythical scenes, iconic moments and characters for history. With you, Bruce Willis: an actor to remember.

‘Moonlight’ (1985)

Moonlight

It’s hard to believe, but before he became John McClane, Bruce Willis was a romantic comedy actor. In fact, the American public refused to see him any other way. It was not the result of chance. In fact, he earned it: he beat out 3,000 actors in the casting of “Moonlight” and gave David Addison Jr. the exact shade he needed . What began as a parody of the detective genre that fully understood its mannerisms became a parody of itself, with a final episode in which Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis (who were rumored to be killing each other) learn that the series had been canceled and they were going to call the producer to account. Meta was not invented in the 21st century.

‘Die Hard’ (1988)

Crystal jungle

Put yourself in a situation: the actor of the most successful romantic comedy of recent years, whose only known role in the cinema has been with Kim Basinger in ‘Blind Date’, has been chosen, out of nowhere, as the protagonist of a film action, shots and explosions . How would you react? Surely you would look for the funniest possible meme to make fun of the situation, right? 

‘The Last Boy Scout’ (1991)

The Last Boy Scout

After two ‘Jungles’, Bruce’s career was a bit lost . Yes, he charged real savageries, but it seemed that he was going to be a flash in a day. Neither ‘The Great Falcon’ (a misunderstood movie, by the way) nor ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’ had the slightest success at the box office. Tony Scott, the author of ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Hollywood Detective II’, had to come to put things in order. Well more or less.

‘Death suits you so well’ (1992)

Death suits you good

Bruce Willis not only cultivated his facet as a tough man of action: there was also a place for comedy … although, in this case, it was ahead of its time. ‘Death suits you so well’ was a flop for Robert Zemeckis but allowed the action movie star to have scenes with Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep and Isabella Rossellini. Almost nothing. Viewed today, the special effects are enchanting, the humor is black as darkness , and it’s cult, especially among the LGBT community.

‘Pulp fiction’ (1994)

Pulp Fiction

If ‘Reservoir dogs’ revolutionized Sundance and Cannes, ‘Pulp fiction’ marked a before and after in the history of cinema . Not only did he introduce Quentin Tarantino to the mainstream, but he also brought back John Travolta, who had been ignored for years, and gave Bruce a role that earned him renewed respect in Hollywood.

‘The color of the night’ (1994)

The color of the night

The same year as ‘Pulp fiction’, Bruce Willis hit rock bottom with an erotic thriller in the wake of ‘Basic Instinct’ . ‘The color of the night’ was, whether we like it or not, one of the films that has given the actor the most headlines. 

’12 Monkeys’ (1995)

12 monkeys

After working with Zemeckis and Tarantino, Willis ended up putting his career on the right track being directed by Terry Gilliam, in ’12 Monkeys’, a feature length inspired by the short ‘La Jetée’ in which he shared scenes with a fabulous Brad Pitt . 

‘The fifth element’ (1997)

The fifth element

In the line of ’12 monkeys’, Bruce Willis did not stop chaining movies in the mid-90s. Luc Besson took 22 years to make ‘The Fifth Element’ , but it came out exactly as he wanted. Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman and Milla Jovovich star in this story far removed from the expected nihilism coming from such a peculiar plot, which refuses to accept your expectations and which quickly became a cult film that has been copied over and over again ( with little success).

‘Armageddon’ (1998)

Armageddon

Say what you want about ‘Armageddon’, but 25 years later it is still present in the collective memory . This Michael Bay overdose about a group of oil drillers turned astronauts who must stop a meteorite has incredible action, over-the-top emotions, and even moments of goofy humor that work. It may be an absolutely testosteronic movie , but it’s also one of those that best defines the 90s. Proof of this is that ‘I don’t want to miss a thing’, by Aerosmith, is still as great as the first day.

‘The sixth sense’ (1999)

The sixth Sense

And if ‘Armageddon’ still resonates, what about “Sometimes I see dead people” ? M. Night Shyamalan became known with this film, now recognized for its tension (and, why not deny it, for its surprise ending) and which at the time earned praise from the entire cast, although, once again, without an Oscar for Bruce. 

‘Friends’ (2000)

Friends

It is inevitable to talk about the best guest star in the history of ‘Friends’: Bruce Willis as the father of Ross’s girlfriend and, at the same time, Rachel’s boyfriend. If the scene of him dancing after saying to himself in front of the mirror “You’re a cool guy” doesn’t make you laugh, few things will. 

‘The protected’ (2000)

the protected

M. Night Shyamalan once again trusted a Bruce Willis in top form for his next film after ‘The Sixth Sense’. ‘The Protected One’ is a superhero movie that embraces metareferentiality: it is an origin story in which Willis manages to become the hero thanks to a comic book fan with bones made of glass. 

‘Sin city’ (2005)

Sin city

One of the most daring mainstream films of the 00s , directed jointly by Robert Rodríguez and Frank Miller (with Tarantino as a guest director) featured Willis in one of his stories, ‘That Yellow Bastard’, playing a policeman about to retire.

‘The Jungle 4.0’ (2007)

The Jungle 4 0

Twelve years had already passed since ‘Die Die: Revenge’ and a whole generation that had grown up with John McClane reacted first with surprise and then with curiosity to a new installment of the saga. ‘Jungle 4.0’ received lukewarm reviews at the time, but it’s much better than it’s been given. 

‘The mercenaries’ (2010)

Sylvester Stallone made a dream movie . The plot was absolutely the same, but seeing Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Tery Crews, Mickey Rourke, himself and Arnold Schwarzenegger together was the dream of any action movie fan of the previous decade. 

‘Moonrise kingdom’ (2012)

Moonrise kingdom

Wes Anderson wrote the role of Captain Sharp with the late James Stewart in mind , but the role fell to Bruce Willis instead. An iconic and good-natured cop for one of the best movies of the past decade. ‘Moonrise kingdom’ is a film of love, imagination and childlike affection that makes even the brightest fall in love. Even now, Anderson’s best work on every level, an adorable fable and Willis’s last great role away from the action.

‘Looper’ (2012)

Looper

Sixty years from now, murder is prohibited, but time travel and killing someone is not. That is the job of Joe, who travels from the future destined to… kill himself . Rian Johnson (yes, the one from ‘Star Wars Episode VIII’) made us believe that Bruce Willis was the future of Joseph Gordon-Levitt with a playful film, full of impossible twists and that plays with time travel in a decidedly brave way. .

‘Glass’ (2019)

Glass

Before our protagonist entered the debacle of cheap action movies, he had time for one last collaboration with Shyamalan in the closing of the trilogy that began with ‘The protégé’ and continued with ‘Multiple’.