Directors, particularly directors as eclectic and precise as Terry Gilliam, have methods to their madness and could have many good reasons for wanting to work or not work with particular actors. It could be a matter of differing visions, clashing work styles, or the fact that, in said director’s opinion, Bruce Willis’s pursed lips look like a puckered anus. In a crucial new piece of canonical film lore, Inverse interviewed Gilliam for an oral history of his 1995 film 12 Monkeys. In the article, Gilliam reveals that he was reluctant to cast Willis in the lead role of James Cole. “I had never been a great fan of Bruce’s before, but I liked talking to him, and I thought, OK, this guy’s smart, he’s funny. I explained to him my concerns about him as an actor,” Gilliam starts off. Willis was smart and funny, but there’s always a but. “I hated the Trumpian mouth he does in films. Rectal. It’s like I’m looking at somebody’s asshole.”
Terry!!! It’s not that he’s wrong, and it’s not as though we can’t unsee it now that he has said it, but it’s the absolute savagery with which he tosses this off. First, he calls the mouth “Trumpian,” which is both insulting to Willis and a hilarious Trump read, based off an assumed shared truth that Trump’s mouth is a stand-in synonym for prolapsed anus. The word rectal stings. And then to imply that when he watches Willis speak and emote — which is his whole entire job — it’s like he’s looking “at somebody’s asshole”? This 80-year-old man just gave us a pull quote that reads like an Azealia Banks tweet.