Kevin Smith Describes the ‘True Darkness’ of Working With Bruce Willis
It has never been a secret that Kevin Smith had a difficult relationship with Bruce Willis on the set of their 2010 comedy Cop Out. Within a few months of the film opening in theaters, articles emerged detailing their struggles working together. None of them were complimentary.
There were stories from Willis’ side about how Smith allegedly “smokes way too much pot” and “didn’t interact with the actors” on set. (Smith admitted he smoked pot, but denied it affected his job performance, and added “I dealt with every actor who wanted to be dealt with on that set.”) At Q&As and conventions, Smith would share tales of the awkwardness — if not outright animosity — between them. Like this instance, where Willis got upset with Smith for asking him to play a scene the way he would have on his old TV show Moonlighting.
Or this “imaginary” story from Comic-Con a few years back about Willis’ dismissive response to an effusive fan declaring his love for Die Hard:
Now Smith has a new book about his entire career, titled Kevin Smith’s Secret Stash: The Definitive Visual History. In it, Smith details his entire career from Clerks to Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, illustrated with numerous film stills, and reproductions of collectibles and ephemera from his work, like a call sheet from Mallrats and a reproduction of the Chasing Amy comic book. The section on Cop Out, however, contains no such memorabilia. It does, however, contain even more details of Smith’s uncomfortable relationship with Bruce Willis.
“Cop Out could have been a great experience if it were not for the fact that I met true darkness in Bruce Willis,” Smith writes in Secret Stash. “I love making movies and he does not, at all.”
Smith grew up a Willis fan thanks to Moonlighting and Die Hard, and the pair got along well when Smith played a small supporting role in Live Free or Die Hard. So he was initially excited about the opportunity to direct a Bruce Willis comedy. Unfortunately, things started awkwardly from the very first day on set for Cop Out (or, as it was originally titled, A Couple of Dicks). The Secret Stash book includes an even longer version of a story that Smith told on the podcast below, where Willis was immediately upset on day one of the production when Smith allowed Tracy Morgan to improvise his dialogue.
After shooting that scene, Smith writes, Willis “was never nice to me again for the rest of the show.”
The whole chapter is one Bruce Willis story after another. (“He’s very lazy,” Smith bluntly claims of his leading man at one point.) After Willis got mad at Smith for allegedly “contradicting” him in front of the crew, Smith says he went back to his trailer and punched a hole in the bathroom wall. “If he had fired me,” Smith says near the end of the chapter, noting that as the biggest star on the film, Willis had the power to have him removed as director, “I would not have cared.”
Kevin Smith’s Secret Stash: The Definitive Visual History is available now. As you can see, it’s quite an interesting read.