Fun and games
Despite turning 50, Bruce Willis is still having a ball
with the action genre
Text and photo by Chris Betros
Its hard to believe Bruce Willis is
50. It is even harder to believe it has been 17 years since
he first played the wisecracking John McClane in Die Hard,
which catapulted him from TV star to international movie hero.
I was a punk kid back then, coming from Moonlighting
on TV. I thought I knew everything, Willis said during
a recent visit to Japan to promote his latest film, Hostage.
But now, I think I am still learning how to act. Ive
been fortunate that I have been able to do parts that are
right for my age. The characters are more mature and better
In Hostage, directed by Frenchman Florent Siri, Willis plays
Jeff Talley, a failed LAPD hostage negotiator who now works
as the police chief in a small town. When three punks take
a family hostage in a mansion, the situation quickly gets
out of control. It seems the hostage dad has a criminal secret.
Talley is threatened by a mysterious group (Mafia, Feds, CIA,
take your pick) that if he doesnt defuse the situation
and deliver an item from within the house, his own wife and
daughter will be killed.
Based on the novel by Robert Crais, Hostage features plenty
of the action that audiences expect from a Willis movie. Its
a genre the tightlipped star finds hard to leave. Apart from
occasional successes like The Sixth Sense in 1999, his forays
into other genres, particularly comedy, have bombed. I
have had so much success with action that its hard to
break away, but I feel the genre needs to reinvent itself,
he said. I tried hard in Hostage to make it so that
audiences wouldnt be sure whether or not Talley saves
everyone. Its not just an action film; its more
about how far you would go to save your family.
Willis 17-year-old daughter Rumer is cast as Talleys
daughter. We had a lot of fun, he said of their
scenes together. Asked how far he would go to save his family,
Willis responded: I dont know. I hope I am never
in that situation. I think the work of hostage negotiators
is never fully appreciated. They do a difficult job and its
good to make a film about them.
At 50, Willis shows no signs of slowing down, mixing lead
roles with smaller parts in indie productions. Sometimes he
cant keep track of it all himself. Im doing
one now in Toronto
I cant remember the name, oh
yes, 16 Blocks. Im really enjoying myself. I got to
make a cameo with a bunch of friends in Oceans Twelve
just for fun. Were making Die Hard 4.0 for next summer.
Thats a challenge because our goal is to make it a success
even if you havent seen the first three. The first one
is still my favorite.
Before that, Willis will be seen in Sin City, followed by
Lucky Number Slevin, Alpha Dog, Over the Hedge and Solace.
He is also discussing a horror film with Japanese director
Hideo Nakata. Whatever he chooses, he knows that his business
is very much hit and miss. I just finished a movie with
Sir Ben Kingsley and he said something that stuck with me.
Were like gladiators who have to suit up again and entertain
audiences, no matter how your last film did. It is always
Another challenge for Willis is keeping in shape, something
that gets harder as he ages. I dont enjoy working
out as much as I used to since its all for work nowadays,
he said. I just try to eat right and not be stupid.
Animal-lover from Kansai teaches Tokyoites about pet care
|Courtesy of ARK
In 1990, Elizabeth Oliver founded the ARK animal shelter
to rescue stray, abandoned, and abused animals. Currently,
ARK is home to about 300 dogs, 200 cats, a pig, two rabbits,
a chicken, a chinchilla, a guinea pig and a hedgehog. This
month sees the launch of Tokyo ARK, to educate people in the
Kanto region about animal welfare.
What does ARK do with all these animals?
Our aim is to rehabilitate them and find them loving homes.
All the animals receive health checks, blood tests, vaccinations,
and all are neutered prior to adoption. The dogs are also
Why did you start ARK?
I used to rescue animals on my own, so I created ARK to get
more people involved and to raise money. Pet food companies
donate most of the animal food and pharmaceutical companies
How did you come to live in Osaka?
I came to stay with friends and have been here ever since.
What are your favorite animals?
Horses, closely followed by dogs and pigs. I like mixed-breed
dogs, as each one has its individual character and looks.
I have 20 dogs at home, and ten cats.
Must be crowded!
One dog, Biwa, sleeps in my bed with me, so in the winter
I am very warm.
What are the names of the others?
Badger, Why Me?, Sparkey, Tsuki, Spaghetti, and Murphy, to
name but a few.
How can people treat animals better?
There is a need for education. When we are looking for a new
home for a dog or cat, we have a four-page questionnaire that
people must fill out. We also conduct interviews and home
checks. We have to know that an animal from a miserable background
can have a great future.
Do you think Japan is a pet-friendly place?
Not compared with Britain, my home country. But things are
improving. Cooperation with the government and veterinarians
How can people help?
Anyone thinking about getting a pet should contact us. There
are also animal sponsorship, donation, volunteer and employment
opportunities available. NU
Call 080-6517-9632 or email email@example.com
for more information. www.arkbark.net
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