The secret of how the ''Story of Us'' star revived his career

By Liane Bonin
Updated October 20, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
Star Max

It wasn’t so long ago that Bruce Willis’ career had withered to ”Die Hard” rehashes and Planet Hollywood openings. But with ”The Sixth Sense” having stormed the summer box office and the Rob Reiner-directed ”Story of Us” now in theaters, the actor’s Hollywood stock is rising. ”I just think that the wheel has turned a bit, that’s all,” says Willis, 44. ”I’ve been through times where they’ve thrown rocks and said my work sucks. Success comes and goes, and I’m just happy that this has happened. And the studio’s really, really happy.”

But Willis isn’t blaming bad luck for his previous box office stinkers — rather good intentions and bad scripts. ”I take responsibility for my choices, and I’ve done some films that I probably shouldn’t have done,” he says. (Anyone remember 1997’s ”The Jackal,” which failed to earn back its $60 million budget?) ”I got involved with films when they were not still fully formed and the script wasn’t done, and those were mistakes.” But give him credit for getting it right with ”Sense”: ”The script was completely done, and I read it and said yes the next day.”

Willis says he’s also decided to steer clear of action schlock. ”I did a film where we tried as hard as we could not to make it an action movie, but it still had action in it,” he remembers. ”And my little brother David saw it and said, ‘Every action scene in this film was derivative of about four other films you’ve done.’ That stuck with me. Plus, I’ve been wanting to do romantic comedy. It’s so much more fun than running down the street screaming.” Especially when you’re acting opposite Michelle Pfeiffer.