Helen Mirren is an Oscar winner and four-time nominee who made her onstage debut with the National Youth Theatre before performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company and on Broadway. But she credits Bruce Willis for imparting upon her some of her most valued acting instruction.
"He taught me a lot about acting, actually," Mirren told Daily News while promoting her new movie, The Duke. "When I came into Red, I'd never really done that kind of movie before and I was quite nervous."
Red is the 2010 action movie starring Willis as Frank Moses, a former black-ops agent who reassembles with his old crew to track down the assassin attempting to kill him. The cast includes Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Mirren.
"Bruce was incredibly welcoming and he immediately made me feel comfortable, and I will always be grateful to him for that. And I would watch him, and Bruce was a brilliant actor. Brilliant," Mirren recalls, praising his "sense of timing" in particular.
Mirren reprised her role alongside Willis in 2013's Red 2, and went on to play a recurring role in the Fast and Furious franchise as Queenie Shaw starting with 2017's The Fate of the Furious. So, if you're a fan of Dame Hellen Mirren revving engines with Vin Diesel, you have Willis to thank for that.
Last month, Willis' family announced the actor is retiring after being diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease aphasia. "As a result of this and with much consideration, Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him," the statement read.
Mirren says, "I can understand, we don't want Bruce to leave our screens because he's such a wonderful presence on screen. But also, he's given us an absolute, enormous lifetime of work, and we should be grateful for that."