Kevin Smith isn't exactly renowned for letting sleeping dogs lie, and while the renowned indie director has been winning the internet recently by expertly owning a troll who slammed his 17-year-old daughter, there's still one feud that's evidently playing heavy on his mind — the one with Bruce Willis.
Well, I say feud, this torrent of torment seems to hail solely from Smith's side — but we'll get to the nitty gritty of that later.
During a recent episode of AMC's Geeking Out, which he hosts with Greg Gunberg, guest scriptwriters Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese (currently penning Deadpool 2) discussed their difficulties working with Willis during 2013's G.I Joe: Retaliation — a topic Kevin Smith jumped on with pleasure, thanks to his previous less than ideal experiences with the actor. He prodded, "Did you guys survive Bruce Willis?" To which Reese replied, "We just barely survived Bruce Willis. He's a very hard man to please. He didn't like a lot of our stuff."
Willis — who's been in the movie business since 1980 with titles such as Die Hard, The Sixth Sense, The Fifth Element and Armageddon under his belt — is unarguably a certified star and thus being a little difficult assumedly comes with the territory. Either way, Reese explains, that when they ran over alternate ideas for scripts, Willis would either veto lines with a simple, "Pass," or make a gameshow buzzer sound. And, eager for a little battery, Smith goaded — "If you've ever seen those Harry Potter movies, he's the Dementor." Reese agreed, "I did get my soul sucked on a little bit in that moment."
Here's a visual for you:
Likening someone to a soul-sucking non-being who causes depression and despair to anyone near them isn't exactly a compliment, and not a comparison that instantly springs to mind when thinking of Bruce Willis, so now you're probably wondering why Kevin Smith detests the past (and future) John McClane. If so, here's the round-up of their beefy backstory.
A Brief Backstory
The pair first met on the set of Live Free or Die Hard (a.k.a Die Hard 4.0) back in the mid '00s — you might remember that Smith played hacker Frederick Warlock Kaludis, the guy who helps John McClane identify a NSA cover-up and by proxy saves his estranged daughter. Totally stoked to be working with his childhood hero and fellow New Jersey native, Smith and Willis initially got along swimmingly, which you can hear Smith waxing lyrical about in Sold Out: A Threevening with Kevin Smith — a Q&A performance in which he professes his love for Willis.
Here's Smith's Die Hard 4.0 scene:
In fact, the feeling was mutual and their work together on Die Hard 4.0 prompted Willis to contact Smith to direct the 2010 buddy cop comedy Cop Out. And that's when shit turned sour.
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The Beef Begins
Rumors of friction on the set of Cop Out — originally called A Couple of Dicks, which might have been more appropriate — began to stir while the movie was still in production, yet it didn't take long before Kevin Smith publicly flung turd-bombs toward Willis on a number of different platforms.
For starters, while featuring on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, Smith labelled Willis a "dick," and insinuated he's difficult to work with due to his bad communication skills and give-a-shit attitude. In fact, he described the experience of shooting Cop Out as "fucking soulless," — like a Dementor, geddit? — and that it led him to never want to meet any childhood hero again.
While being disappointed by those who've previously inspired you can be rather crushing, this outburst was a tad on the harsh side. Listen to it below:
Later, in Smith's Too Fat for 40 Q&A stand-up video — which, again, you can watch below — he shat all over Willis's performance while simultaneously poking fun at his character, suggesting the actor is aggressive and short tempered.
Then, in his 2012 memoir Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good, Smith spent a full fucking chapter laying his grievances bare, as clearly this interaction with Willis affected him deeply. Calling the actor our for a lack of commitment and — well, here's an excerpt:
“There were no staff limbo parties like there’d been at the Blue Moon Detective Agency whenever Bruce was around. The singing pitchman who made me believe that Seagram’s Wine Coolers were a manly enough spirit to chug at a high school kegger? He turned out to be the unhappiest, most bitter, and meanest emo-bitch I’ve ever met at any job I’ve held down. And mind you, I’ve worked at Domino’s Pizza."
And what has Bruce Willis had to say on the matter? Absolutely nada.
Six years on, it might be better to bury the hatchet on this one, Kev. Just a thought.
Do you think Bruce Willis is a Dementor?