Bruce Willis' $553M Blockbuster Ended Up a Behind-the-Scenes Disasterpiece

Bruce Willis' $553M Blockbuster Ended Up a Behind-the-Scenes Disasterpiece
Image credit: Twentieth Century Fox

The Die Hard star didn't like working with director Michael Bay.


  • Willis criticised Bay, calling him a 'screaming director'.
  • He vowed never to work with Bay again.
  • Despite this, Bay said Willis had 'great fun energy'.

The 1998 film Armageddon was a huge success, grossing over $553 million. Director Michael Bay was still relatively new to the scene, having made his debut film, Bad Boys, just three years earlier.

But if you thought his relative inexperience might make him nervous around big-name stars like Bruce Willis, think again. In fact, Willis said afterwards that he would never work with the 'screaming director' again.

Bruce Willis hated working with Michael Bay

Willis has a reputation for speaking his mind and being pretty blunt about his opinions. And his damning verdict on working with Michael Bay summed that up nicely.

'Few people will work with him now, and I know I will never work with him again,' Willis said. 'It was a great crew, but a screaming director does not make for a pleasant set experience.'

Over the years, Bay has often been described as a volatile man. But Willis' claim that no one would want to work with him has not aged well. As director of the Transformers franchise, he's worked with the likes of Shia LeBeouf, Megan Fox, Stanley Tucci and Anthony Hopkins.

Not to mention he's worked with Ben Affleck on other projects. I guess if it produces a decent movie, some actors are willing to put up with a director yelling at them.

Even Bruce Willis conceded about his experience on the set of Armageddon, 'we were all big boys, and we got through it.'

Asked in a 2007 interview if he had any regrets about his decision or how he described Michael Bay, Willis said, 'I don't have any regrets. I don't have any regrets. What I say is what I say, I don't always say the right thing, I don't always say the politically correct thing…but yeah, I don't have any regrets about that.'

It was more than just the director he didn't like

It's hard to say whether the extent of Armageddon's popularity is in spite of, or because of, its over-the-top spectacle that pushed everything to the limit. It's almost as if Bay took things to such extremes that anything less would have felt a bit ridiculous. But somehow he managed to make it feel right in every way.

For Willis, there were plenty of things wrong with the film. 'I said yes to this one because the script made me laugh, and at the same time I thought it was ambitious,' he told The Morning Call.

Clearly, he saw both possibilities in the movie, but he trusted the production team to find the right balance between camp and seriousness. Still, he felt some parts didn't quite hit the mark.

'A little too MTV-camera cutty for my taste,' he said of the film, 'but the shots of meteors crashing into the [World Trade Center] was pretty prescient.'

He also felt that Billy Bob Thornton was 'under-used' and described how the 'spacesuits continually malfunctioned and one night, Ben Affleck was seen bashing the front glass on his helmet with a rock because he couldn't breathe.'

To be fair, that one seems to be on the costume department rather than Michael Bay.

Michael Bay remembers it more fondly

While he is well aware of Bruce Willis' view of their time working together, Michael Bay seems to have more fond memories of shooting Armageddon. Speaking to Variety in 2022, the director said of Willis:

'He takes control of the cast, and he's got a great fun energy and I had a great time. He was tough at first, and by the way, Armageddon was a total fun set. … It was almost like camp.'

He was also complimentary about the actor's presence. 'Bruce, he's a movie star,' Bay said. 'He can command the screen. He's very funny too.'

It seems the two have different views on how the collaboration worked between them.

Source: RT, The Morning Call, Variety.