How Bruce Willis almost missed out on 'uncastable' iconic role that kickstarted his career

How Bruce Willis almost missed out on 'uncastable' iconic role that kickstarted his career
Bruce Willis attends the Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis at Hollywood Palladium on July 14, 2018 (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

LIS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Bruce Willis was diagnosed with dementia after retiring from acting because of aphasia in 2022. Before his diagnosis, the 68-year-old was known for his action movies mostly and a few rom-coms here and there; however, did you know how he got his first big role? It was not a film, but rather a series called 'Moonlighting' that broadcast on ABC from March 3, 1985, to May 14, 1989. The network aired an overall 67 episodes.

'Moonlighting' was not just one of the most lavish television shows ever produced, but it also pioneered the 'dramedy' genre, which blends comedy, drama, and romance. The program garnered positive reviews as well, earning 16 Emmy Award nominations in 1986. However, in the latter seasons, the show's ratings dropped, and it was canceled in 1989. Reports say Glenn Gordon Caron, the show's creator, found Willis after being told the role was "uncastable".


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How 'uncastable' Bruce Willis almost missed out on iconic role that kickstarted his career?

The show's creator, Glenn Gordon Caron, claimed that he had a "contract with ABC to do three pilots, and he had done two, but they were not successful. They urged that he create a detective program for the third project, but he was adamant that he "didn't like detective shows" and didn't want to create one. As a result, he "set out to make a detective show that would deconstruct or make fun of or maybe put an end to detective shows. I was very young and irreverent," as per STUFF.


'Part was uncastable'

'Moonlighting' became a big success because of its two charismatic actors and original, funny scripts. "When I was about half done (with the first script) I thought, 'Wow, I think I'm writing Cybill Shepherd here'," Caron recalled, adding finding his main man, in particular, was a far more difficult challenge. "I didn't even know there was a Bruce Willis when I was writing it." he said. "At one point ABC was going to pay me, Cybill and the director Bob Butler not to make the show because they were convinced the part was uncastable."

'He was an extra in a Frank Sinatra movie'

Willis, who went on to feature in over 60 films, including the 'Die Hard' series, was a complete stranger when he auditioned for the part. "When we cast him, the only thing he'd done was the play Fool For Love, which was off Broadway, and I think he was an extra in a Frank Sinatra movie. I always feel like if it had not been me, someone else would have come along and offered him a part and people would have seen how brilliant he was."


Why was the show canceled?

While Shepherd and Willis had excellent on-screen chemistry, their private relationship was anything but blissful. The series' production was hampered by the scripts, which at times were clogged with a tonne of conversation, and the feuding leads, which ultimately caused the series to be canceled after only 64 episodes.

Willis starred in more than a hundred films, and he became known as an action hero after playing the role of John McClane in the 'Die Hard' series from 1988 to 2013 and in other roles. Willis also starred in films like 'The Bonfire of the Vanities', 'Hudson Hawk', 'Pulp Fiction', '12 Monkeys', 'The Fifth Element', 'Armageddon', 'The Sixth Sense', Unbreakable, Tears of the Sun, Lucky Number Slevin, Surrogates, Moonrise Kingdom, and Motherless Brooklyn.

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 How Bruce Willis almost missed out on 'uncastable' iconic role that kickstarted his career