Bruce Willis, 61, Thinks His Best Work Is Ahead Of Him

Photo by Benni Valsson

Photo by Benni Valsson

GQ: You’ve said that you think your best work is ahead of you. Maybe it is. For most of his career, Eastwood was seen as just a journeyman actor. He wasn’t nominated for an Oscar until he was 62.

Bruce Willis: It’s like fire, right? You take fire for granted. Fire runs the house, keeps the house warm. Have a little fireplace right here. But if we were never given the gift of fire, nobody would go, "Ah, wish I had some fire." Cary Grant? No Oscar, except for the one that they created to give to him. [pauses] I don’t think about it too much. It just always has seemed whimsical to me, to think about it. You don’t get an Oscar for comedy, and you don’t get it for shooting people. You get it for novelty, for being fascinating to watch in some character role. But the Die Hard stuff and Dirty Harry are all fraught with the same thing that every story is fraught with.

The middle years to now makes me start to think that there should come a time when I should not work so much. I don’t question other actors in their age and what they do; I just think, "Wow, they’re still fucking great." They’re still doing it. There are movies where if I know Anthony Hopkins is in it, I’ll go see it. I’m still a fan of films, I still go to movies. I just saw Argo. It’s fantastic.

GQ: There is the image of "Bruce Willis," but what will resonate with people who read this interview is that you’re not John McClane. It’s more like "Hey, guess what, kids? I’m a 57-year-old guy, and it doesn’t matter if you’re making movies or working in an office, you wonder about your life. Your purpose." That’s the eternal unifier here.

Bruce Willis: Yes. And nobody wants to hear this bad news, but we’re all dying on some level. I’m going to try to keep the machine moving forward as much as possible and not have to think about the eventuality of becoming more frail and less able to do the work. I know that I’m not going into politics. That’s not an option. I was asked, and I said, "Did you hear any of the stuff about me when I was a kid?"

Interview by Michael Hainey via GQ