LOS ANGELES—It all started when Bruce Willis, in a recent interview, answered a question about how his daughters called him. Somehow, the exchange led him to reveal his other nicknames. The macho action star said that one of them was… Brucey.
“There are only two people in this whole town whom I’ve ever let me call Brucey,” he said. “One is Jeffrey Katzenberg (DreamWorks Animation CEO) and he just says it so cute. He goes, ‘Brucey.’ Jeffrey gets away with it. I don’t want you to get the idea that you [too] can call me Brucey.”
So who is the other person? “My good friend (film producer) Jerry Weintraub gets the honor,” said Brucey, er, Bruce. “He calls me Brucey sometimes.”
Wait, wasn’t he also called… Bruno, at some point? “That was a long time ago,” Bruce said. “That was kind of a high school thing. I am now seldom called Bruno.”
“Brucey Boy? No, I don’t let my kids call me that,” he stressed when asked how his daughters with ex-wife Demi Moore—Rumer, 24; Scout, 21 and Tallulah, 19—called him. “Daddy-O is my fave. They don’t call me Bruce. They call me Dad or Pops. I’m very sentimental with my children. I indulge them to a high degree.”
As for Mabel, his baby (a year old on April 1) with second wife Emma Heming, Bruce said, “Mabel doesn’t really say anything yet. She just sticks her hand in my face and pulls me over by the ear.”
Asked about an interview quote in which Emma said she was the boss at home and Bruce always followed her instructions, he gamely replied, “I may have written that for her. I always say she is the boss and that she is much smarter. I have acquiesced to just about everything she thinks. I ask her opinion more than I ask anyone’s.”
When does his own opinion matter in the house? He cracked, “Oh, just on what we are having for dinner maybe, or how I can make Mabel laugh. My job really is just to make my little baby laugh.”
What is it like, helping raise a baby at 57? “Not much different as you would think. One of the things that make it easier for me is that I stay pretty much in shape. I can run, jump, play… but the actual aspects of being a father are great. I have the same amount of love, if not more.”
Speaking like a first-time dad, Bruce enthused, “I like looking after Mabel. It’s very exciting and it makes me very happy.”
He also gushed about Emma: “She’s a first-time mom. She’s just great. She is truly very smart, and very reserved. I just love her so much. Emma had a great modeling career when she was younger. You should see her in a bathing suit.”
Sounding unabashedly in love, Bruce said, “I have to say about getting married again—I get a lot of compliments from people who have gone through the same thing. I get some praise for moving forward and not having it be a problem.”
A certain novelty
On being back as John McClane in “A Good Day to Die Hard,” he pointed out, “There’s a certain novelty to being able to play one character in five films over 25 years. I can look back and remember every one of these ‘Die Hards’—where we were, what the story was. There’s a great amount of goodwill [showered] upon ‘Die Hard’; people still enjoy the way we do it. We try to make it fun to watch.” John Moore directs this latest installment in which McClane sees action in Russia.
“This kid Jai Courtney was just terrific,” Bruce said of the actor from Australia (yet one more from Down Under) who plays his son. “He was a really great son. He really got it and hit the ground running. He’s a welcome addition.”
Bruce himself candidly joked about his film’s title: “I can’t quite understand what ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ means. Can you explain that to me? What is that—if you’re going to die, today’s a good day? Or not a good day? I would think you would call it ‘Not A Good Day to Die Hard.’”
Of his recent films, the actor cited one as among those he is proudest of: “I did a small film called ‘Looper.’ I loved that.” The sci-fi/action/crime hybrid directed by Rian Johnson and which costarred Joseph Gordon-Levitt earned good notices.
Growing up, Bruce coped with a speech impediment—he stuttered until he did theater in high school. “When I was a kid, I stuttered a lot,” he revealed. “Sometimes it comes back; I don’t know why. I just have it and I just smile and go, that’s a little bit of something that used to happen to me when I was a kid. ”
Delivering words onstage without stammering helped the teenager build his confidence. “[But] I was confident probably in a bad way back in those days,” Bruce said. “I was a smart-ass and just hard to be around. I don’t think about being confident. I just do what I do.”
He is also happy with the physical changes that he is seeing in himself. “I’m happy to have lines on my face. I always thought I had a little too much baby fat; I didn’t care for it. I couldn’t wait for the time when I got a little roughed up. You can’t stop the march of time. I’m pretty accepting.”
Just don’t call him Brucey.
(Email the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.)