It wasn't totally surprising to hear that Sylvester Stallone had cut Bruce Willis from The Expendables 3-- Willis's role in both of the previous two films had been pretty minimal, and Stallone managed to replace him with Harrison Ford, a coup by any measure. What was surprising, though, is the tweet that Stallone included with the news:
Sure, he doesn't name Willis specifically in the tweet, but it's not hard to connect the dots and assume that Willis was demanding more money for less work-- something Stallone was clearly unwilling to give. And given that this is far from the first time that Willis has clashed, very publicly, with one of his former co-stars, it's not even all that surprising. Need a primer on the many feuds of Bruce Willis? Hey, of course you do.
The 80s sitcom that launched Willis to fame well before he walked on broken glass as John McClane, Moonlighting paired him up with Cybill Shepherd as a pair of detectives who squabble but, of course, give in to some sexual tension as well. As Willis's career took off his relationship with Shepherd and even some of the crew worsened; here's how the show's producer Jay Daniel explained it in this interview:
Everybody knows there was friction between the two of them on the stage. In the beginning, Bruce was just a guy’s guy. Let's just say he evolved. Over the years, he went from being the crew's best friend and just being grateful for the work and all of that to realizing that he was going to be a movie star and wanting to move on. Part of that was because of his strained relationship with Cybill. That sometimes made the set a very unpleasant place to be.
Below you can watch the two foes in action:
This one wasn't actually from when they were working together on Armageddon-- a massive hit for both of them, mind you-- but much later, when Willis took to the Ain't It Cool message boards and began commenting as "Walter B." He initially stepped in to talk about the upcoming Live Free or Die Hard and defend its PG-13 rating, but at some point someone brought up the idea of Michael Bay directing a Die Hard movie and, well, Willis couldn't hold back:
“Would have ruined DH4. Few people will work with him now, and I know I will never work with him again.”
Michael Bay is famously pretty difficult to work with himself, to the point that Megan Fox called him Hitler, but Willis lashing out on a message board is pretty undiplomatic. He seems to have gotten his wish though: the Transformers franchise is carrying on merrily without him.
Tears of the Sun
This 2003 thriller is almost completely forgotten, but according to a lawsuit that Willis filed against the production company, it created ""extreme mental, physical, and emotional pain and suffering." You can read the full complaint at The Smoking Gun, in which Willis seeks damages after being struck in the forehead by a projectile that was meant to simulate bullets in a battle scenes for the war film. Of course, if you ask director Antoine Fuqua, Willis might have been making a big deal out of nothing. At the time Fuqua told the BBC (via E! Online) that Willis was a "pain in the ass" on the set, and revealed "We got along off camera, but shooting, we just didn't get along." Details of the suit's settlement aren't public, but if Willis had made out with $100 million or something crazy, we probably wouldn't see him starring in the likes of the next movie on our list.
You probably remember this one. Kevin Smith, never afraid to burn bridges and to draw as much attention to himself as possible, didn't just blame critics for the failure of his ill-fated comedy Cop Out; he blamed Willis, in the most harsh terms possible. Here's just a snippet of what he had to say on Marc Maron's podcast (via Film Drunk), after revealing that Willis wouldn't sit for the poster and that if it weren't for Tracy Morgan, "I might've killed myself or someone else in the making of that movie":
It was difficult. I’ve never been involved in a situation like that where, one component is not in the box at all. It was fuckin' soul crushing. I mean, a lot of people are gonna be like, ‘Oh, you’re just trying to blame the movie on him.’ No, but I had no fucking help from this dude whatsoever.”
But Smith wasn't done! In his memoir Tough Shit, via Flavorwire, he laid into Willis even further, and started blaming him not just for making his life miserable, but for ruining his childhood dreams:
“Where was the happy-go-lucky charmer who made Maddie Hayes fall so madly in love?” Smith writes. “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.’
Granted, Kevin Smith drives us crazy and we would probably go nuts working on one of his sets too. But it's not hard to assume he's in the right on this one.
Finally we come to poor Jamie Edwards, an interviewer for the London-based radio station Magic 105.4 who lobbed some bad questions at Willis and Mary-Louis Parker, but seems to be unnecessarily punished with some majorly hostile answers.
Willis is far from the only actor with a track record of squabbling with collaborators and the press, and I'd still probably wind up on a set with him instead of notoriously short-tempered James Cameron, even though I adore Cameron. But if you're trying to figure out who to side with in the new Stallone vs. Willis beef… history seems to be speaking for itself.