Kevin Smith Discusses Directing Bruce Willis in Cop Out
02.27.10 by BJSprecher
Despite having written and directed eight feature-length movies, including Chasing Amy, which won two Independent Spirit Awards and helped launch the careers of Jason Lee, Joey Lauren Adams, and Ben Affleck, Kevin Smith still considers himself very much a man of the people, a Hollywood outsider. So, when Warner Bros. offered him the opportunity to direct his new movie, Cop Out, Smith told Moviehole that he was apprehensive about alienating his loyal fans.
I thought about it going in to it, in terms of trying to make the movie, because I'm like, "Well, I'm gonna take a bunch of sh*t from people that love Chasing Amy and don't see why I would make a movie like this." I don't know what to tell cats like that anymore, it's just like, "I can't make Chasing Amy every time, and you wouldn't want me to because I would be a very unhappy person." And I'm a very happy cat now, you know? I'm married, I've got a kid and if you want me to make another Chasing Amy, start getting my wife to try and cheat on me or something, so I have unrest in my life.
In a previous interview, Smith said that it took him a while to figure out how to work with Bruce Willis on Cop Out because Willis wouldn't take direction and was "very much the author of his own performance." In the Moviehole interview, Smith admitted that part of the difficulty was the fact that he was more than a little starstruck by Willis.
I went in directing [Willis' character] David Addison from Moonlighting, and I wasn't the adult, the 38-year-old Kevin Smith who had made a bunch of movies, I was the 12-year-old who would lay on my parents couch and watch David Addison on Moonlighting on Tuesdays. And Bruce was smart enough and had dealt with that personality before to be like, "If you're like this the whole movie, we're not going to get anything worthwhile accomplished."
Smith went on to say that he was such a big Willis fan that he had a hard time asking the actor to deliver the kind of performance that he wanted at times.
I'm sitting in my chair behind the monitor going, "I'm such a p*ss." Back in the day, I would've been like, "No! We're going to go again, because I've got something in my head, and we're going to get there," but I didn't do it because I'm scared, I'm scared of Bruce. And I was like, "You know what, I can't be scared of Bruce, I can't make a whole movie with Bruce and be scared at the same time.... I go over and I talk to Bruce, Bruce leaning on the wall by the set, just chilling out. I say, "Hey boss," and he goes, "Hey, what's up?" And I said, "I'm thinking about going one more on that," and he goes, "Why? What's the matter?" And I said, "It was good, nothing wrong, it was totally good." And he goes, "What are you looking for?" and I said, "Well I'm looking for something but I just don't want to tell you." And he goes, "What are you talking about?" And I was like, "I'm a little scared to tell you." He goes, "Kevin, don't be scared to tell me, just tell me." I was like, "I know, but you might get mad at me," and he was like, "I'm not going to get mad." And I was like, "I'm pretty sure you're going to get mad," and he goes, "I'm getting mad now, tell me." And I said, "I was looking for you to deliver this line in the way you delivered that line, a similar line, to Mattie Hayes in the second season of Moonlighting, in an episode called 'Every Daughter's Father Is a Virgin.'" And Bruce, f*cking, he just stared at me. And Bruce looks away, just so he can look back with that Bruce Willis look. He goes, "Did you just ask me to give a line reading from something I did twenty-five f*cking years ago?" ... I walk behind the monitor and apparently we were going to go one more anyway. So we do the take, and I'm sitting there watching it, and I'm scared that I was going to get yelled at when we move on to the next thing, because I still have that adult fear in me. And I'm watching the monitor and all of a sudden Bruce Willis disappeared and Jimmy Monroe, the character he plays in [Cop Out] disappeared. And for one, brief, shining moment, there was David Addison in frame. And I was just like, I welled up, it was like Christmas.
Cop Out was written by Mark and Robb Cullen and also stars Tracy Morgan, Seann William Scott, Kevin Pollack, Adam Brody, Michelle Trachtenberg, Jason Lee, and Ana de la Reguera.