Walter Bruce Willison was born on March 19th, 1955, in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany, one of the world’s famous actors. Willis is the oldest of David and Marlene Williston’s four children, a group that includes three sons and a daughter. After graduating from high school, Willis followed in his father’s footsteps and found work with his hands, first in a chemical factory and then as a security guard, before returning to the classroom as a drama student at Montclair State University in New Jersey.
As a young man his personality was very much like that of the character that he portrayed on Moonlighting (1985). He was always getting into trouble because of this and was bodily ejected from parties by the hosts for being obnoxious.
He is also known for his role of John McClane in the Die Hard series, which were mostly critical and uniformly financial successes. He has appeared in over sixty films, including Pulp Fiction (1994), 12 Monkeys (1995), The Fifth Element (1997), Armageddon (1998), The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000), Sin City (2005) and The Expendables 2 (2012).
In the early 1990s, Willis’s career suffered a moderate slump starring in flops such as The Bonfire of the Vanities, Striking Distance, and a film he co-wrote titled Hudson Hawk, among others.
He starred in a leading role in the highly sexualized erotic thriller Colour of Night (1994): another box office failure, it was savaged by critics but did well in the home video market and became one of the Top 20 most-rented films in the United States in 1995.
In 1994, he had a supporting role in Quentin Tarantino’s acclaimed Pulp Fiction,which gave a new boost to his career. In 1996, he was the executive producer of the cartoonBruno the Kid which featured a CGI representation of himself.
Willis has appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman several times throughout his career. He filled in for an ill David Letterman on his show February 26, 2003, when he was supposed to be a guest.
On many of his appearances on the show, Willis stages elaborate jokes, such as wearing a day-glo orange suit in honour of the Central Park gates, having one side of his face made up with simulated buckshot wounds after the Harry Whittington shooting, or trying to break a record (parody of David Blaine) of staying underwater for only twenty seconds.
Willis next starred in the gangster comedy The Whole Nine Yards (2000), worked again with “hot” director M. Night Shyamalan in the less gripping Unbreakable (2000), and in two military dramas, Hart’s War (2002) and Tears of the Sun (2003) that both failed to really fire with movie audiences or critics alike.
Willis bounced back into the spotlight in the critically applauded Frank Miller graphic novel turned movie Sin City (2005), the voice of “RJ” the scheming raccoon in the animated hit Over the Hedge (2006) and “Die Hard”.
His performance as John McClane in the “Die Hard” trilogy is ranked #46 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.