Bruce Willis: No Kidding

No longer a street-smart aleck, Bruce Willis is now asking himself the big questions.

Bruce Willis is lying on a peach-colored couch, this outfit. There is a white, short-sleeved shirt printed with sailing flags, powder blue jeans, and canvas shoes that have possibly been made out of a flowered Hawaiian shirt. His hair is quite small. He has an almost shaved-head look, except for the top where various light brown tendrils stick up, like something out of Dr. Seuss. Three tiny gold rings adorn his left earlobe. He forgot to shave.

He looks like the morning after the night before.

"Racism gets me angry," says Willis from the couch. "Not just black-white. There's racism in Hollywood. People talk about the Jews, how the Jews clan together out here and they have a lock on Hollywood. There's a lot of hatred, a lot of not accepting other people. And I think it's fucking archaic."

A secretary breezes in with a cardboard container of food. Willis promptly sits up, pries open the box and stares at two slabs of pan-fried chicken on toasted bread and a batch of jumbo fries. "Oh, this looks great," he exclaims. After which he digs in, at one point forgetting his manners and picking up the chicken with his fingers. Catching himself, he says, "Please don't write that I eat with my hands. I did that once in front of somebody and they wrote about me like I was an animal."

At times, Willis acts as if giving an interview were an out-of-body experience. You get the feeling he's always watching himself for misstatements, or behavior that a reporter will seize upon to make him look bad. Reporters want to make him look bad. So he has shown up today in his office at Tri-Star in Century City without, if this is possible, his personality.

This is a bit unsettling considering that most of us got to know Willis as David Addison, the wise-cracking, insouciant goof-off of "Moonlighting," who was supposed to be a detective but seemed more like a party waiting to happen. Willis, at 34, has tamed many of those same impulses, channeling them into a no-nonsense career that has transported him, in only five years, from the streets of New York to the top of Hollywood's klieg lights. Along the way, he stumbled onto a place that David Addison resolutely managed to avoid: adulthood.

"My life right now is not just about me, it's not about being a celebrity or being a big deal or a big shot," he says earnestly. "It's about me trying to be a real person. Once you get all this stuff? All the success and the money and the offices and the cars? Then you've got to answer a really important question. What do I do now?"

In fact, what he is doing now is preparing for an October blitz, a kind of international Bruce Willis month. His newest movie, In Country, has just opened, and shows a more subdued character than Willis has played before, a smalltown Vietnam vet who has failed to readjust. He'll also host a telecast of "Saturday Night live.'' And he will give several concerts in London, promoting his second Motown album, "If It Don't Kill You, It lust Makes You Stronger." One of the songs, called "Turn It Up Louder," was inspired by his former Nichols Canyon neighbors, who summoned the police one night to get Willis to turn it down softer. After that, he will begin filming Die Hard II or, as Willis has drolly suggested it be called, Die Harder.

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