After several blockbuster movies in a career approaching 40 years, Bruce Willis is stepping away from acting because of his aphasia diagnosis. It won’t be the first communication challenge of his life, but his retirement means no more Die Hard movies, guest roles on TV, voiceover work, or M. Night Shyamalan films.
No one can take away the box office success, though. These 10 Bruce Willis movies scored big at the worldwide box office, earning more than $3.8 billion in ticket sales. Considering he has nearly 150 acting credits to his name, it’s little wonder he’s one of the top-grossing actors in Hollywood. (Note: We only include movies on which he earned an acting credit, so no Ocean’s 12 or Split).
10. ‘The Fifth Element’ (1997)
- Box office total: $264 million
Playing futuristic cab driver Korben Dallas in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element proved to be one of Willis’ most memorable roles. It also gave him a chance to be billed with Gary Oldman, Ian Holm, and Milla Jovovich.
9. ‘Look Who’s Talking’ (1989)
- Box office total: $297 million
Willis had never lent only his voice to a movie before Look Who’s Talking, but doing so proved to be a shrewd decision. Willis voiced the baby Mikey in this movie and the 1990 follow-up (which made more than $47 million), the first but not last time he and John Travolta were on the same bill.
8. ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ (2013)
- Box office total: $305 million
The final entry in the Die Hard series sees Willis’ John McClane travel to Russia to team up with his son Jack (Jai Courtney). It made back $25 million of its $92 million budget on opening weekend and earned more than 12 times much that by the time it left theaters.
7. ‘The Expendables 2’ (2012)
- Box office total: $315 million
Willis appeared as Church in 2010’s The Expendables, but it was an uncredited role. He came back for a larger role in the sequel alongside other action movie stars such as Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Terry Crews. That star power helped push the budget to an estimated $100 million, and the movie more than made its money back at the box office.
6. ‘Over the Hedge’ (2006)
- Box office total: $340 million
Bruce Willis didn’t lend his voice talents to many projects, but they tended to be successful when he did. Nearly two decades after Look Who’s Talking mopped up at theaters, Willis had another voiceover hit with Over the Hedge. He leads an ensemble cast as the voice RJ the raccoon, who tries to help a smattering of woodland creatures survive in encroaching suburbia.
5. ‘Die Hard With a Vengeance’ (1995)
- Box office total: $366 million
A year after Willis and Samuel L. Jackson helped put Quentin Tarantino on the map in Pulp Fiction, they teamed up to rewrite the course Die Hard franchise. With Jeremy Irons playing the brother of Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber from the original, the third entry in the series has the most direct tie to the film that launched Willis’ career.
4. ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ (2013)
- Box office total: $376 million
Willis isn’t among the top-billed actors in the sequel to G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, but he still plays an important role as a general who helps foil the latest Cobra plot. The film opened with $41 million its first weekend, collected $123 million in North America, and more than tripled the latter number before it left theaters.
3. ‘Live Free or Die Hard’ (2007)
- Box office total: $388 million
The 1988 original and 1990’s Die Hard 2 miss this list, but the rest of the series is well-represented. The fourth entry sees Willis’ John McClane team up with Justin Long’s hacker named Matt Farrell to take down Timothy Olyphant’s cyber-terrorist Thomas Gabriel.
2. ‘Armageddon (1998)
- Box office total: $554 million
All of the movies we’ve covered so far earned more than $260 million at the box office, which is nothing to shake a stick at, but now we’re in rarefied air in the $500 million club. Willis leads a rag-tag team of oil rig workers (and a strong cast with several other A-listers) on a zero-gravity mission to destroy an asteroid hurtling toward earth. It’s one of Willis’ most recognizable roles, and it comes in of the few Michael Bay movies that don’t suck.
1. ‘The Sixth Sense’ (1999)
- Box office total: $673 million
Willis made his name starring in blockbuster action movies, but his acting career is fairly well-rounded with dramas, comedies, and animated movies. The Sixth Sense is certainly on the more dramatic end of the spectrum. Willis turns in a restrained performance as a child psychologist opposite Haley Joel Osment in M. Night Shyamalan’s first big-budget Hollywood movie.
Thanks to solid performances and a twist for the ages, the movie earned rave reviews (certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) and six Academy Award nominations, though Willis was not among them.
All box office figures courtesy of IMDb Pro.