Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan star in the new buddy-cop film aptly titled ”Cop Out”, as NYPD officers whose search for Jimmy (Willis)’s stolen valuable baseball card leads them into one of the city’s most dangerous Mexican drug rings.
Moviehole’s Tim Johnson caught up with the pair (who’s off-screen affection for each other was clearly visible) and found out who Willis admits to faking on-screen chemistry with, has Tracy Morgan reveal a dirty little secret, asks Bruce about his new film ”Red” and gets confirmation of’ ”Die Hard 5”.
Q: Bruce, you’re looking sharp!
Bruce: Well, I have to go to a wedding this afternoon, so I thought I’d…
Q: It’s not one of your daughters?
Bruce: Not yet!
Q: When you were offered this role Bruce, was Tracy part of the package or did you have some input into working with him as someone to bounce off?
Bruce: I think that the studio had their eye on Tracy. But it was a laugh out loud script that I literally went back and read three times, to make sure what had made me laugh out loud, could still make me laugh out loud. It was a script written by the Cullen (Robb and Mark) brothers, really, really funny guys who work in TV mostly, this is their first feature film. But just great, really, really smart, funny writers. And it started from there.
Q: Did you see this role as some cross between your Die Hard character (John McClane) and perhaps ”16 Blocks” (2006), kind of the frazzled cop versus the action hero?
Bruce: No, and I know it’s your job to try and find linear connections like that, but this film is just, I’ve done a lot of cop pictures, and other actors have too, but this really and I’m here to tell you, whatever anybody else tells you today about it, because Kevin (Smith, director) will come in and tell you, ‘It’s a 60% action film, it’s a throwback to Lethal Weapon, it’s an homage to the action pictures of the eighties and nineties’. But it’s not that, it’s not that. First of all, maybe the first film, the first mixed race buddy-cop film that made the choice to ignore the whole racial issue. We never played it, not one time, not one time. Never thought about it, it was never written in the script, it was never done, we just played it like friends.
Q: Is it bromance between the two of you?
Bruce: I hate that word. I know it is the…
Tracy: The love is there!
Bruce: It’s the catchword, and that’s exactly what I was going to say, is the love is there without having to put a label on it. You can’t put a label on a relationship that two guys have that have to protect each other’s lives every night. Every night they’re on the job and get shot at. And if Paul gets hurt, I’ve got to save his life, if I get hurt, he’s got to save my life. And that’s, you want to call it bromance, call it bromance…
Tracy: Basically, Ralph and Norton meet Starsky and Hutch.
Q: It seemed like it was such an easygoing film and that there would have been a lot of improvising, is that true Tracy?
Tracy: For us, it was easy because it was already funny once it was on the paper. So it was just us bringing the character and me and Bruce, we made it seem, it comes across as improv, because before we started shooting, me and Bruce, we had a couple of talks and we gave these guys history. So brought us closer to the characters, so by the time we started shooting I was already Paul and he was already Jimmy, so it was easy for us.
Q: What about your chemistry, did you shoot some scenes before you both were cast to see if it would work?
Bruce: We never did that, we just rolled the dice. It was love. Let me say this, we improved in almost every scene, every day. That doesn’t mean that the improvs we did on camera is what this film is comprised of. We would always go back and then, look at the tape and say, ‘What worked out of this improvisation? This worked, A worked, B worked, D, E and F didn’t work’, so then we went back and cobbled it into the script, so, a lot more thought went in to it, than just flying through it. Except for that scene with Seann William-Scott in the back of the car. No one can do that. No one could write that scene, that was just genius. You cannot predict chemistry, that’s for sure. Tracy and I, i don’t know what you would call it. It wasn’t an audition, we had already both got the job. We were already working, money was being sent on the budget. We were in Queens (NY) in a diner…
Tracy: And you said something yesterday, you said, ‘Had there not been chemistry, the very first take we would be having a different conversation.
Bruce: We might not be sitting here! We clicked immediately, on a lot of levels and in a lot of ways. We found that our timing was effortless. In the film, there’s a lot of overlapping dialogue between our characters. I’ve worked with actors who can’t do that, at all. They just get flustered.
Q: Did you want to name them?
Bruce: No! But we, about five minutes in to that first master, I just said, ‘Oh thank God’.
Tracy: I was calling him Jim!
Bruce: Yeah, we were already in character working. And whether that scene got to live in the film is neither here, nor there, it was the fact that we won and that we showed ourselves that we could work together, and make it look effortless.
Q: It must be hard to fake chemistry.
Bruce: It’s the hardest thing to fake.
Q: But Cybill Shepherd and yourself had great chemistry and supposedly you hated each other?
Bruce: That was faked. It was an interesting thing, how much they talked about chemistry. Now that was in the early days of people talking about chemistry. We had a different kind of chemistry. We had chemistry, that was more man/woman at odds/power-struggle kind of chemistry, that we would always find a way to turn the corner and find a joke in it. We weren’t saddled with that kind of responsibility. We were just guys trying to help each other, trying to keep each other alive and remain great, great friends.
Q: How did you keep a straight-face with Tracy at work? He even makes eating corn chips funny!
Bruce: It’s impossible! That corn chip scene should have taken, our side anyway, should have taken five or six minutes and I think it ended up taking close to an hour. And everybody, they liked the way I do that ‘slow-burn’ when I go (*pans head slowly*). The most important f*****g thing is happening in the world right now, and you want to eat some corn chips? So, it’s just great timing, great lovable timing.
Q: At what point did Kevin Smith get involved?
Bruce: Kevin was always attached I think, Kevin was being groomed for the corporation for the last four of five years, and this was his shot, and I think he hit the ball out of the park.
Q: Was there any concern about ‘spoofing’ yourself in the interrogation scene at the beginning of the film, with the ‘Yippie Aye Yay?
Bruce: Had it not been funny, I would have said maybe we should take this out. But it was funny, it got a laugh and I’ve been around long enough I think that I’ve earned the right to make fun of my own films.
Q: Are you working on a new “Die Hard”?
Bruce: I’m working on the fifth one, yeah.
Q: Tracy, Bruce mentioned Kevin being groomed for this job, it seems like this is your chance to also hit it out of the park in a mainstream movie hit. Is that how you see this?
Tracy: Yeah, absolutely and working with Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin was sort of like getting me ready for this opportunity. To work with those big actors like Alec Baldwin and Tina, so by the time i got to Bruce, i was sort of like, relaxed going in to it…
Q: Have you spoken to Eddie Murphy about career arcs, because it seems like you’re following the Saturday Night Live gig, then cop movie…
Tracy: He worked with Stevie, I worked with Stevie. No, I haven’t spoken with Eddie. But it seems like that with 48 Hours, and Trading Places is the same as Cop Out and then Death At A Funeral with Chris Rock. But no, I haven’t spoken to him, but those movies inspired me to that standard of funny. I wanted to be on that level of funny, with Cop Out.
Q: Do you have a favorite Bruce Willis film?
Tracy: All of them! I can’t pinpoint on of them! But all of them, like a good mom and pop pizza shop you know, you grew up with that stuff. I think I like the first Die Hard.
Bruce: Quite popular!
Q: You both were like the kings of New York, did you find it difficult to shoot here?
Bruce: They welcomed us in every borough, with completely open arms.
Tracy: I thought that was so cool, kids on bikes…
Bruce: We’re from New York so…
Q: The heroes of New York.
Bruce: Thank you. And it sometimes got a little carried away, but we still managed to get the shooting done. But we were all in the genre of cop movies whether it’s Die Hard, that’s very serious with some dark humor in it, 48 Hours, it’s a long list and it’s a big club. I would put our film in a little different niche in that everything else that happens in a traditional buddy-cop movie; shoot ’em ups, car chases, gotta save the girl, gotta get the bad guys, all those things in our film are secondary to making you laugh. We just went for the laughs. Our job was to make you laugh and Tracy Morgan brought that, every night.
Q: Tracy, you really embraced the insecure husband storyline…
Tracy: I was married for 21 years, man! You know, where I grew up at, jealousy is abundant. I come from the ‘hood, i come from the ghettos. As long as you let your girl’s hand go, there’s a dude right there, so you know, you got to hold tight! But you know, sort of growing up, the way I did with the issues, the abandonment issues, whatever, I think that was Paul’s whole thing right there, his abandonment issues and maybe emotionally his mom wasn’t there so he didn’t want his girl to leave. That’s what I drew from. I’m just jealous. Just like John Lennon said in his song, ‘I’m a jealous guy-aye.
Q: Any metro motel stories?
Tracy: I been through there a few times! I met a few babies in there! I’m old school, I know you been in there, I seen you in there, coming in with your White Castle bags late at night.
Q: Bruce, is there a genre movie that you haven’t done that you would like to do.
Q: A musical?
Bruce: A musical? You know what? That’s the one thing that I can clearly and unequivocally say….
Tracy: If you join the Lion King, I’m coming to see!
Bruce: There are so many people who do musical comedy better than i do, that I have retired my tutu forever. It’s just not a form of entertainment that I’m very good at.
Q: Do you guys see this film being revisited?
Bruce: I wouldn’t be surprised.
Tracy: I would love to. I love working with Bruce. He made me feel really at home doing my funny. He said, ‘Just do you’, and that’s what we did and I enjoyed it. I called him the ‘chief’… I’d follow him in to battle. I’m going with him.
Q: What about a Brian Fellows movie?
Tracy: Nah. All the things I did on Saturday Night Live are staying on Saturday Night Live. I’ve never seen an Eddie Murphy, I’ve never seen a Gumby movie… Because there is a lot more inside of me.
Q: You’re working the funny at the moment, is drama something you want to do down the track?
Tracy: Drama? I would love to cry on film. I think I could do it. But right now I’m just really getting affiliated and associated with the…funny. So I’m not looking to do anything dramatic right now. I’m embracing, being the funny guy.
Q: How’s the production of ”Red” coming along?
Bruce: It’s a unique animal… an incredible cast and it’s a very ambitious movie and it’s doing really well. Interesting story.