The latest Bruce Willis for 2018 is a remake of the Charles Bronson 1970s movie “Death Wish.” Willis has always been a box office success during his career and had occasional positive response from critics as well. Let’s take a look back at his greatest films in our photo gallery (view above) that ranks his top 15 performances from worst to best.
Willis grew up in New Jersey, but after appearing in a college production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” he dropped out and left for New York City to launch a professional acting career. He first became a famously flashy bartender in various clubs (think Tom Cruise in “Cocktail”), but found his big break years later understudying and later replacing Ed Harris in the acclaimed off-Broadway production of Sam Shepard’s play “Fool for Love.”
After only a few television guest starring roles on shows such as “Miami Vice” and “The Twilight Zone,” Willis rocketed to television stardom on “Moonlighting.” The show became known as much for its off-screen fireworks as those onscreen due to the combustible relationship Willis had with his co-star Cybill Shepherd. The show would run for five seasons and win Willis an Emmy for Best Drama Actor in 1987.
Willis then did the unthinkable thing for the time and somehow managed to parlay his television fame into a highly successful film career. In the 1980s the divide between film and television stardom was still pretty wide and many actors such as Tom Selleck and Ted Danson found difficulty making their TV success work on the big screen.
He headlined the “Die Hard” franchise and found success in critical and popular hits such as the Quentin Tarantino movie “Pulp Fiction” and “The Sixth Sense.” Tour our photo gallery and sound off in the comments section about your favorite Willis films.
15. MERCURY RISING (1998)
Willis gives one of his better action performance in this story of an FBI agent trying to save a young autistic boy’s life. The boy has cracked a secret government code which sets corrupt National Security Agents on a quest to kill him.
14. ARMAGEDDON (1998)
This year saw two films about asteroids hitting earth released at the same time. While “Deep Impact” got the better reviews “Armageddon” was still a huge hit. Willis plays a deep space oil driller who is sent into space to try and destroy an asteroid hurling towards the planet.
13. DEATH BECOMES HER (1992)
Willis played a doctor who leaves Goldie Hawn for her rival played by Meryl Streep. The film dealt with the obsession many people have over aging with both actresses using a magic potion that made them immortal. Willis plays against type here and does a nice job. As the increasingly beleaguered man stuck between two demanding women and their vanity, Willis equates himself nicely even though it was the film’s special effects that ultimately received the most attention.
12. SIN CITY (2005)
Willis is a stand out among the all star cast of this thriller shot in the style of a comic book. He plays a cop with heart troubles who gets involved in a complicated scheme where not everything is what it seems.
11. RED (2010)
Willis had a big success with this thriller in which he plays a former CIA assassin who falls in love with a customer service representative at his pension plan (Mary-Louise Parker). When the two eventually decide to meet in person their first date throws the unsuspecting Parker into a series of dangerous events involving things such as the KGB.
10. MOONRISE KINGDOM (2012)
Willis has a more sensitive role than usual in this typically bittersweet and wistful film from Wes Anderson. The film follows the misadventures of two bookish young summer campers who befriend each other. Willis is sweet and understated as the police chief who eventually adopts one of the boys.
9. LOOPER (2012)
Willis had an interesting role in this thriller involving time travel and various other science fiction elements. Willis co-stars with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and actually plays the older version of his character. The two meet each other in this nicely plotted film by Rian Johnson who would go on to be chosen to direct and write “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” largely based on the success of this film.
8. NOBODY’S FOOL (1994)
This small gem of a movie is from director Robert Benton, who won Oscars for his work on “Kramer Versus Kramer” and “Places in the Heart.” The film is really a vehicle for Paul Newman (who received a Best Actor Oscar nomination) but Willis his many fine moments too as Newman’s nemesis and sometime employer whom he loves to taunt with lawsuits and by flirting with his wife.
7. THE SIEGE (1998)
“The Seige” was met with mixed reviews upon its release but its themes and exploration of a terrorist incident affecting New York City would sadly become quite relevant in the years to come. Willis has a rare villainous role as an army Major General who oversteps his position’s role as the city grapples with the terrorist incident and its aftermath.
6. BANDITS (2001)
“Bandits” from Oscar winning director Barry Levinson didn’t really live up to its potential at the box office but it is still a very entertaining and off beat comic heist film. While Cate Blanchett steals the film as a neurotic housewife who gets caught up with two bank robbers, Willis also shines as one of the bumbling bandits.
5. PULP FICTION (1994)
Willis had a strong autumn in 1994 when in addition to “Nobody’s Fool” he also had a role in Tarantino’s groundbreaking film. The highly acclaimed (but also highly controversial film due to its violence) was the most talked about film of that year and went on to earn seven Oscar nominations.
4. THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)
While supporting players Toni Collette and Haley Joel Osment earned the Oscar nominations, Willis has the main role in this box office sensation from M. Night Shyamalan. Willis has the more reactive role in the film as a child psychologist treating a young boy who “sees dead people.”
3. IN COUNTRY (1989)
Willis gave his first dramatic performance on screen as a Vietnam veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The actor who had been known pretty much for his comedic work at this point showed a different side of his talent and earned a Golden Globe Award Nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his efforts.
2. DIE HARD (1988)
Willis was riding high on the success of his TV series “Moonlighting” but his attempts to translate that success to film had not really worked out until he signed on for this action adventure/comedy. As a police officer trying to free his wife who is being held hostage in a skyscraper, Willis gave a gung ho, full out performance filled with both action thrills but also wryly delivered comic one liners as he desperately tries to fight the people holding his wife and others captive. The film was a huge success, spawned many sequels and pretty much cemented Willis place as a full-fledged movie star.
1. TWELVE MONKEYS (1995)
In visionary director Terry Gilliam’s masterful post-apocalyptic film, Willis has his best role as the center of the madness and time travel the movie revolves around. Brad Pitt got an Oscar nomination for his supporting role but Willis is equally good in the film.