This is so moving!
Last week Kevin Smith was one of many colleagues to reach out to Bruce Willis in the wake of the announcement he was retiring from acting due to a diagnosis of aphasia. But the Clerks director’s words were special — because the two parted on famously bad terms.
But all that bitterness fell away when Kevin learned of his former hero’s condition. He tweeted:
“Long before any of the Cop Out stuff, I was a big Bruce Willis fan – so this is really heartbreaking to read. He loved to act and sing and the loss of that has to be devastating for him. I feel like an a**hole for my petty complaints from 2010. So sorry to BW and his family.”
Well, over the weekend the raconteur was asked during a WonderCon Q&A to speak more about Bruce, and that he did.
First, he quickly recapped the feud for those who didn’t know, reminding that he had directed Bruce in an action comedy called Cop Out. After the film came out, Kev was not shy about how difficult, lazy, and generally unpleasant Bruce had been on set. He revealed he got so frustrated he even punched a hole in the wall of his trailer!
Related: Bruce’s Aphasia May Be Linked To Accident On Set Of 2002 Movie
But over the years, he said, he had actually gotten over it on his own — time healing all wounds, after all. He told the crowd self-deprecatingly:
“Then you get older, and s**t just becomes water under the bridge. There was a time in my life when Cop Out was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Then I grew up and stopped bitching.”
But he still didn’t think highly of the man. And then he learned about his cognitive issues. He said at that moment he “stopped thinking about Bruce Willis as the guy I worked with and started thinking about Bruce Willis as the guy who I used to watch on TV as a kid with my mom.”
Awww. He went on to recount how much of a hero Bruce was to him growing up, not just because of his weekly viewings of Moonlighting with his mom but also because he was a star from New Jersey — not too far from where Kevin was.
So when he thought about how much the man loved to perform, not just to act but to sing (Kevin had all his albums), he was “heartbroken” and any memories of being angry and frustrated melted:
“All that went away and I thought about how f**king sad he must be. This guy that I used to adore, that can’t be the thing that defined him.”
Kevin then explained that Mark Cullen, one of the two writers of Cop Out, had actually gotten along with Bruce much better on the set (though they’d had a falling out later as well). Well, Mark called up Kevin after seeing his tweet and told him a secret. He’d actually gotten lunch with Bruce months before the news to tell him privately. And Bruce had not just apologized for earlier bad behavior, he had actually mentioned Kevin as well.
“He said that Bruce told him that making Cop Out with the Cullens was one of the best times he’d had in the latter part of his career, he’d had so many laughs. I said, ‘Oh, that’s awesome.’ He goes, ‘But Kev, he said AND EVEN KEVIN.’”
Mark swore to Kevin that Bruce had said all this:
“‘He said that he never had any hard feelings. He says that he really liked you and he knew that he f**ked things up with you guys.’”
Wow! Bruce had actually wanted to make amends first! That’s amazing! Kevin admitted that was “all I ever wanted.”
The filmmaker went on to say he’s so sorry for assuming he knew what was going on, saying:
“I don’t know if his condition goes back to then, but if it does, it would explain a lot of things. You think you know a situation. I would have bet my f**king life I knew exactly who Bruce was from having worked with him for six months of my life. And now, maybe I just didn’t f**king understand, maybe I just didn’t see it. You know, you don’t share that sort of thing with people. You know, I’m 51, but you’re never too old to learn something important.”
He added that he had been so excited because he LOVED Bruce and the process of making the movie had changed that:
“Twelve years later I find out that maybe there was a pretty good reason for that… You think you can be right about something, I’m glad I found out now before it was too late.”
Kevin also revealed that Mark had asked him to go the next time they get together “in a couple weeks,” and hopefully they’ll properly make peace this time. Love to see it.
Watch the full, uncensored answer (below):
[Image via Majestic Entertainment News/Warner Bros/Youtube.]