On Top of the World
It’s Bruce Willis versus the asteroid in this summer’s biggest film. The action hero talks about saving the world yet again. By Paul Chandler

Bruce Willis as Harry Stamper
Armageddon: the end of all things. An asteroid the size of Texas – a ‘global killer’ – is due to strike Earth within days. Half of the world’s population will be incinerated; the rest will freeze to death in a nuclear winter. Unless one man – Harry Stamper, the world’s best deep core driller – can save the day.
“Harry’s asked to save the world,” says Bruce Willis of his role in the smash hit movie. “But he won’t go unless he can take his crew. They’re not good at a lot of things in life – no social graces – but they’re good drillers and he knows he can’t do it without them.”
It’s not the first time Willis has saved the world – after all, this is the guy who attempted to unravel the time-travel complexities of the apocalyptic 12 Monkeys, delivered the galaxy from evil in The Fifth Element and saved society from terrorists in three Die Hard movies. “I think this film has a much larger theme to it,” he insists. “It’s almost an archetype for stories that are about ordinary people being confronted with extraordinary circumstances, all the way back to Greek theatre. It’s about a guy just trying to get home, trying to do the right thing. And I think that stories like this are going to be around for a long time. The film-makers made a smart choice with this film to make it about the people, and while we do have a lot of hi-tech toys and a lot of special effects, the majority of the story is about working with people, dealing with this problem.”
“I never really looked at this as an action film, I looked at it as more of an adventure film. Fortunately I don’t have to label my films as much as people in the media have to label. To be quite honest with you I’m sick of action films. I need to take a break from it.”

Grace under fire

Willis insists that Stamper is more interesting than Die Hard’s John McClane or the hero of the ill-fated Mercury Rising. After all, this is a man with responsibilities: he heads a team of experts in their field, and he has a daughter to look after – the headstrong Grace (Liv Tyler), who is in love with AJ Frost (Ben Affleck), one of the drillers. “Harry Stamper is a hard-nosed guy,” Willis defines. “He comes from a long line of independent men and a lot of that rubs off on his daughter. She’s just as hard-headed as he is.”
The fact that Stamper has a family is indicative of Willis’s changing priorities: it allows him to explore the softer side of the character, while acknowledging that the actor is approaching maturity. “I’ve been asked that a lot,” he admits, “because I’m sure it’s something interesting to write about, but it’s just a device. I actually thought they should have gotten somebody older to play the part. The actual arithmetic of Liv’s character’s age and my age in the film was right on the edge of it, but I didn’t really assign that much importance to it. As I get older I’m gonna play more fathers..."

Armageddon image copyright Buena Vista

Read the full interviews with Bruce Willis and his crew - and Armageddon's director Michael Bay - in Starburst #241

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