Top 5 Bruce Willis Performances
Updated: Apr 7
Counting down our favourite performances by legendary actor Bruce Willis
Last week saw the sad news that action movie star Bruce Willis would be retiring from acting; the actor has been suffering with a cognitive and communicative medical condition called Aphasia. But what better time than now to reflect on the incredible career he has had, and the show-stopping performances he's so effortlessly given us. And that is the adjective to use: effortless. He has a slick, sly smile about him that solidifies his humble confidence, and what started as a breakout role in mystery romcom series Moonlighting, soon turned into lead role after lead role in the late 80's into the 90's. Here we count down his Top 5 performances that have stuck with us.
"He's one of those actors so often taken for granted." - Ellis
5. Captain Sharp
in Moonrise Kingdom
"You've got your whole life in front of yourself. Ahead of you, I mean."
So many times has he showed his comedic edge, in The Whole Nine Yards, Look Who's Talking and even Friends. But in Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, Bruce Willis solidifies himself as a versatile, dextrous performer. He is note perfect and easily blends with the Anderson regulars, having that awkward comedic edge that goes so well with the style. He's not as smooth as usual, and that is an absolute joy to watch.
4. David Dunn
in the Unbreakable trilogy
"I'm just an ordinary man!"
Bruce brings this presence to the role of David Dunn that is so refreshing in a superhero movie. He perhaps wouldn't have suited a role dressed head to toe in spandex in something like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Unbreakable has more of an indie feel which is far more his style. His performances in both Split and Glass are just the level they need to be, without overshadowing his costars. He's worked with some of the all-time greats, and that's because he is one.
3. Malcolm Crowe
in The Sixth Sense
"How often do you see them?"
Understated, cool and collected. Malcolm Crowe is another Willis performance that highlights how versatile he is, but all the while playing a character you don't get to fully understand. The Sixth Sense is such a great movie and changed the horror/thriller genre for the better, finding nuance in places you wouldn't always expect, and creating iconic moments for the ages. Without Willis, this could've been rather drab and missing that fiery spark of energy.
2. Butch Coolidge
in Pulp Fiction
"Zed's dead baby. Zed's dead."
H'es just the coolest. The more this list goes on, the more you appreciate his suave, unbeatable energy. He's definitely radiating some John McClane vibes here but with a more menacing slant. After being introduced to him in the big franchise that is Die Hard, seeing him as Butch made it clear that he could do anything. The combination of Willis and Quentin Tarantino works so well, and it's a one time combo that will forever be cherished.
1. John McClane
in the Die Hard franchise
"Yippi-ki-yay mother fu**er!"
He showcased his improvisation, his style, his unmatched energy, his charm, his action movie status and really made his mark as Die Hard put Bruce Willis on the map for most. The sequels were met with rather mixed reception but Bruce Willis was always so full of vim and vigor.
Willis and Alan Rickman have one of the best on screen hero-villain dynamics seen on screen.
This is just peak action! And it definitely is a Christmas movie...
Characters that came close, but for whatever reason, didn't quite make the cut
Jimmy 'The Tulip' Tudeski (The Whole Nine Yards)
- He has a great energy with Matthew Perry; and it's the reason he starred in Friends.
Old Joe (Looper)
- His nose suits him, but it doesn't suit Joseph Gordon-Levitt, why does this film have a problem with his nose?
Himself (The Lego Movie: The Second Part)
- Just a cameo, but it's one of the best cameos going!
Die Hard available now on Disney+