Kevin Smith lifts lid on working with Bruce Willis: “soul crushing”

It seems all was not well between Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis on the set of Cop Out.

“Did you enjoy it?”

That’s the question I asked Kevin Smith, back when I had the pleasure of interviewing him back in October 2009. I was referring to him directing the film that became known as Cop Out (but was then still known as A Couple Of Dicks), a picture that saw him work with a full-on movie star for the first time. Thing is about his answer, and it had been a terrific, flowing conversation, was that he paused for just a short moment before his answer.

“You know, when all was said and done, I did,” he replied.

There’s no reason to disbelieve that, but it’d also clearly been a production with some quite pronounced challenges. And now, we might just have found out what those challenges were.

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In a new podcast released over at WTFPod, Marc Maron chats with Kevin Smith, and the pair of them got on to talking about Cop Out. Maron asks, in particular, about the billboard poster for the film, and his dislike of it. And, after chatting about the poster, Smith added, “Look, I know the real story. One guy wouldn’t even sit for a fuckin’ poster shoot.”

When pressed to identity the name of the person concerned, he replied that “Everyone knows who it is. Put it this way, remember the really funny guy in the movie? It ain’t him. He’s a fucking dream. Tracy Morgan, I would lay down in traffic for. Were it not for Tracy, I might’ve killed myself or someone else in the making of that movie.”

It becomes clear that Smith is talking about Bruce Willis.

He went on to add that “It was difficult. I’ve never been involved in a situation like that where, one component is not in the box at all. It was fucking soul crushing. I mean, a lot of people are gonna be like, oh, you’re just trying to blame the movie on him. No, but I had no fucking help from this dude whatsoever.”

When I heard the podcast, I went back to re-read the aforementioned interview we did with him after Cop Out had wrapped, and while I’m not trying to get pieces to fit a story, there are a couple of things that stand out in a slightly different context.

For instance, I asked him about working with a movie star for the first time. To which Smith replied: “A fucking movie star! Now that’s a different beast altogether, because you’re dealing with someone else who’s just as powerful, if not more powerful than you, on the set. And for me it’s not power games, but you learn very quickly when it’s just like I’ve got a shotgun director on the movie!”

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He went on to add, “So it took us like a week for us to figure out what it was we were doing together. I was going at it like, ‘Bruce, do it like this.’ I was directing Bruce the way I direct everybody else. And Bruce was like ‘I’ve been acting like Bruce Willis for 25 years, do you really think there’s anything you’re going to tell me that I don’t know?’ So he was very much the author of his own performance.”

Finally, a little later, Smith said of Bruce Willis, “What he needs to do more than anything else in his life, though, right now is direct. He’s ready. He’s absolutely ready. After 25 years of watching everyone else do it. He said that at one point on the movie. ‘I’ve been watching everyone else direct for 25 years.’ And I’m like, ‘My god, you have seen it all’…”

Now, to be clear on this, in the interview, Smith was positive about working with Bruce Willis, and you can read our chat here to see that. But, it appears, all was not well on the film. And a lot of what Smith was talking about seems quite similar to the Bruce Willis tales described by Julie Salamon in her book, The Devil’s Candy, which discusses the making of the movie The Bonfire Of The Vanities.

In other Kevin Smith news, while we’ve got you, he’s confirmed on his Twitter page that the March release date he’s targeting for his new film, Red State, is just for the US. As you’d expect on a smaller budget picture, the international rollout is likely to take a little longer.

And finally, in his latest podcast, Smith has confirmed a piece of casting news for his upcoming hockey movie, Hit Somebody. In that film, Kyle Gallner has been cast as a Wayne Gretzky-like character. To find out more, you should check out the podcast, here.

Finally, the WTF Podcast can be found here. It’s well worth a listen.

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