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SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Back in July, Bruce Willis made his first visit to Comic-Con, in part, to promote his new movie "RED," which is based on the graphic novels about a reassembled task force on the trail of modern-day killers.
"RED" stands for Retired Extremely Dangerous, and the movie, which debuts on Friday, features Willis at the head of an ensemble cast including Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman in a tale blending action, comedy and romance.
Willis plays Frank Moses, an old-school CIA agent who finds himself fighting for his life against new CIA technology and agents. He talked to Reuters about the evolution of comic book adaptations and why "RED" attracted so many marquee actors.
Q: Are comic book movies easy or hard, for actors?
A: "They are a big help, for sure. Really good graphic novels and graphic comics show up with drama and high stakes and what you're angry about and what you're trying to achieve. So often that has to be created by the actors or the director or someone else, and it's just great to have a map."
Q: What comics did you read as a kid?
A: "In the time when I was reading comics, I was probably reading maybe a little bit of "Spider-Man" and the superhero things. You know what they haven't made a film about is "Metal Men." It was all the elements...like there was Lead, Tin, Gold, Platinum, and Mercury. I read them all. I've never seen it in film. And I read "Archie." Then I kind of fell out of it. I never thought about acting until much later anyways. No one ever thought to make a movie from a comic but 'Superman.'"
Q: Do you feel that Hollywood looks at comic books differently after "The Dark Knight"? Perhaps more respect.
A: "Well, certainly after "Dark Knight," yeah. But what I see in the world -- and it started in Hollywood and in TV -- it seems like everything is entertainment now: sports, news, Hollywood films, TV shows...Films don't have to be shot just in Hollywood anymore, so it's worldwide. It's all entertainment, really, on some level. The 11 o'clock news in Los Angeles is entertainment, weird and freaky car accident entertainment. Look at all the channels that exist now."
Q: What do you think it was about "RED" that attracted such a diverse cast of talented actors?
A: "I was one of the first in, and I liked it just because of the story. From what I hear -- and I hear things said -- some people say, "Well, I want to be in an action movie with Bruce Willis." But this is a lot more than an action movie. It has a lot more story to it. It was a lot more complex...
"One of the things that's going to be talked about with this film is how many A-list, big, above-the-marquee movie stars gravitated toward the story. I don't think anybody knows why. I certainly don't understand why, or what it's about. This isn't because people want to be in an action movie, because these guys can be in any movie they want. But they came together in a really like Christmas kind of way, and I was kind of wishing for this, and the filmmakers and the studio and the actors all got every present that they wanted with this film.
Q: Was there much improvisation with this cast?
A: "We really stayed close to the script more than any film I'd worked on. It was always the same story from start to finish and that never happens in Hollywood -- or Toronto."
Q: One scene that really stands out is the fight between your character and Karl Urban's. What was it like to film?
A: You always want to keep everyone around you safe and yourself safe. Karl and I learned most of the sequence using mixed martial art fighting like what you see in cage fight matches. There are things I did in "RED" that I haven't done in a long time like running through a glass window, getting thrown around. But I really enjoyed fighting with Karl.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte