Kevin Smith takes back ‘petty complaints’ about directing Bruce Willis in ‘Cop Out’

A man wearing a T-shirt, blazer and backwards baseball cap sits at a table with caramel corn behind him
Kevin Smith on a 2020 podcast.
(Willy Sanjuan / Invision / Associated Press)
Share via

Following actor Bruce Willis’ revelation that he suffers from the cognitive disorder aphasia, filmmaker Kevin Smith is walking back “petty complaints” he made about the action star while directing him in the 2010 buddy comedy “Cop Out.”

“Long before any of the Cop Out stuff, I was a big Bruce Willis fan — so this is really heartbreaking to read,” Smith, 51, tweeted Wednesday, sharing a news story about the 67-year-old star’s condition and his announcement that he’ll be retiring from acting.

“He loved to act and sing and the loss of that has to be devastating for him. I feel like an a— for my petty complaints from 2010. So sorry to BW and his family.”


Back in 2011, the “Clerks” and “Mallrats” director complained about the “Die Hard” star during an appearance on the podcast “WTF With Marc Maron.” Smith said that it was “f— soul crushing” to direct Willis in “Cop Out,” a gross-out action flick that also starred Tracy Morgan.

The Razzies retracted an award for Worst Performance by Bruce Willis after news the ‘Die Hard’ actor was diagnosed with aphasia, a cognitive disorder.

March 31, 2022

“It was difficult,” he said on the podcast, claiming that Willis, who played a veteran detective, “wouldn’t even sit” for poster shoots.

“Were it not for Tracy, I might have killed either myself or someone else in the making of f— ‘Cop Out,’” he said.

“Cop Out,” one of Willis’ many action flicks, was widely panned and earned an 18% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. The Times’ review focused more on the cliché-laden script and Smith’s execution than on Willis’ performance.

An actor stands in front a of a large movie poster that features him
Bruce Willis at the 2010 premiere of “Cop Out” in New York.
(Peter Kramer / Associated Press)

“There really is no good reason to recommend ‘Cop Out,’” former Los Angeles Times critic Betsy Sharkey wrote. “There are, however, about a dozen bad ones, starting with the fact that it’s the first gross-out comedy to come along since ‘The Hangover’ that is actually a comedy and not just gross, although make no mistake, gross it is — this is a Kevin Smith film after all — so don’t say you weren’t warned.”

In interviews with The Times this month, nearly two dozen people who were on set with the actor expressed concern about Willis’ well-being.

March 30, 2022

At the time, few knew what — if anything — was going on with Willis behind the scenes. The two-time Emmy winner has been in dozens of projects since, including tentpole franchises such as “The Expendables” and “Red.”


Aphasia makes speaking and writing challenging and has affected other celebrities, including Glen Campbell, Dick Clark, Sharon Stone and Emilia Clarke. Willis has largely kept his struggle private, but filmmakers and nearly two dozen people who have been on sets with the prolific star have expressed concern about his well-being for some time, The Times reported Wednesday.

Several of them questioned whether the “Sixth Sense” and “Pulp Fiction” actor was fully aware of his surroundings on set or described heart-wrenching scenes as he grappled with his loss of mental acuity and an inability to remember his dialogue, according to The Times’ report. Willis traveled with another actor who would feed him lines through an earpiece and in recent years had most of his action scenes filmed using a body double.