Bruce Willis and the farce of film promotion

Plus: John Galliano, from one catastrophe to another


It’s a nice time of year to be an actor.

The one time they get to be the centre of attention, put on fairytale clothes and talk about themselves in front of an audience of millions for a while. For the rest of the year, outside of awards season, acting is a struggle. Look at this year’s Oscar nominees. Anne Hathaway lived on lettuce for weeks in order to play scrawny prostitute Fantine in Les Misérables. Naomi Watts had to learn to act underwater in The Impossible, a film about the 2004 tsunami. “The action stuff was hard on the body, but the acting was harder. I have like 12 lines!” she said. “We quickly learned you cannot utter a word without swallowing a gallon of water.” Struggle.

Now there is a revolution afoot. The put-upon of Hollywood are revolting – not against the wonderful privilege of making one’s living from movies, nor even against the red carpets, backslapping and parties: they can stay. Instead they’re revolting against the bit where they have to step down from the Hollywood hills into the real world and persuade the paying public to go and see their work.

The insurgents’ latest hero is Bruce Willis. On The One Show to promote A Good Day to Die Hard, the actor appeared trapped in his own muffled dream sequence as he tried, unsuccessfully, to raise a yippee-ki-yay for his new film. He mumbled a commentary to a high-octane car-chase clip – “I’m in the car. Now I’m on top of some other cars... You don’t see that often” – and listlessly poked fun at the film’s name. “It’s a difficult title. It’s like ‘have a sandwich and let’s go shopping. And then Die Hard.’” Shh, Bruce, go back to sleep. The actor has since apologised for being “boring”, blaming his lack of sparkle on jet-lag.

Elsewhere, the New York website Vulture recently put together a damning, but hilarious, sequence of clips of Jeremy Renner looking like he’d rather be doing anything but promoting Hansel and Gretel. Whatever happened to smiling and jumping up and down on Oprah’s sofa to sell a movie?

The truth is, actors love to hate the rigours of the publicity merry-go-round. I’ve dealt with a fair few moaners in my time including one blockbuster star – OK, OK, it was Tobey Maguire – who was so “exhausted” by a day of press in The Dorchester’s plushest suite that he insisted on conducting our entire half-hour interview with his eyes closed.

Now, increasingly, the public is getting to see the jaded truth behind the Hollywood smiles. As well as the spurt in bored/jet-lagged interviews of late, there have been some aggressively rude ones, too. Quentin Tarantino blew up at Krishnan Guru-Murthy when asked about the violence in Django Unchained. “I refuse your question. I’m not your slave and you’re not my master. You can’t make me dance to your tune. I’m not a monkey,” he raged. “I just refuse to repeat myself over and over again because  you want me to for you and your show. And  your ratings.”

John Goodman, too, took exception to probing questions about alcoholism in a newspaper interview about Argo. “This is not something I want to chat about to sell a fucking movie. You understand? I don’t know what you do. I’m sorry, I’m very tired. It seems a little cheap to me.”

The kind view would be that the stars have a point. Answering the same, at best banal, at worst intrusive questions thousands of times over in order to sell a movie they made months ago must start to pall. The cynical view would be that jet lag and a few minutes with inquisitive strangers are a small price to pay in return for living the life of an international movie star.

It might be that the new trend for grumpy public appearances is just another publicity ploy. In the age of snark, a “car crash” interview generates many more column inches and tweets per minute than a standard, nicey-nicey one. Nevertheless, Bruce and co should tread carefully. If actors can’t even pretend to be enthusiastic about a film they’ve made – when pretending is, after all, their bread and butter – then why should audiences summon up the enthusiasm to go and see it?

Relax, everyone. It’s just fashion 

Fashion can be baffling. What is a peplum? How can a belt cost that much? And so on. So it’s with due trepidation that one attempts to deconstruct John Galliano’s latest fashion statement. This week, the designer was photographed in New York sporting a long black coat and a Homburg hat over hair styled in curly sidelocks – which recalled, unmistakably and uncomfortably, traditional Hasidic Jewish attire. As Galliano’s last memorable public outing involved him hurling anti-Semitic insults in a Parisian bar, you have a look that even the most airheaded magazine would deem worthy of a red cross and a What Was He Thinking?! stamp.

Perhaps he thought it would send a message of love and respect for the Jewish people, but the effect is more Bruno-in-Jerusalem than contrite comeback. Fortunately, his publicist was able to explain what was going on in her client’s head: nothing. “Mr Galliano has worn big hats and has had long curly hair for many years. He was in designer attire from head-to-toe including a Stephen Jones hat and Yohji Yamamoto pants. In other words,” she added, “fashionable.”

Oh, it was fashionable, and the clothes were designer. This is fine. That also explains Sports Illustrated’s latest swimwear shoot which features models using exotic locals, literally, as props. In Europe, a bikini-clad beauty leans on a matador. In Africa, a desert tribesman with a spear. In Asia, an old man in a wide-brimmed hat on a raft. So we can all relax, dubious ethnic stereotyping is totally on trend right now.

Twitter: @alicevjones

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Read Next

I don't blame parents who move to get their child into a good school

Chris Blackhurst
William Hague, addresses delegates at the Conservative party conference for the last time in his political career in Birmingham  

It’s only natural for politicians like William Hague to end up as journalists

Simon Kelner
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent