Cop Out: Kevin Smith works with Willis and Morgan

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“Cop Out” stars Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, and is directed by Kevin Smith. The film is being released February 26 by Warner Bros.

In “Cop Out,” Smith takes on both high comedy and high action, and lets them play off each other as equal partners. Paul and Jimmy, partners on the police force for nine years, are like an old married couple: they bicker, they gripe, they disagree just to disagree. But they are in synch working together, know each other’s families, and are like family themselves. The pairing of quintessential, rough-edged-but-wry action hero Bruce Willis with the zany nuttiness and sensitivity of consummate funnyman Tracy Morgan seemed almost too good to be true.

Working with Bruce Willis 

Tadross, who produced two of the “Die Hard” movies, asserts, “I jumped at the chance to work with Bruce again. The man is brilliant, he knows what he wants and he’s a friend, so it’s always a pleasure to be around someone like that. Put Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan and Kevin Smith in the same room? I couldn’t wait to see what would come out of that. Those three guys are at the top of their game.”

Tadross was not the only one who’d worked with Willis on a “Die Hard” film. Offers Smith, “I’d worked with Bruce as an actor on ‘Live Free or Die Hard,’ and he called me at one point and said, ‘I’m an actor, you’re a director, we’re both from Jersey…we should do something together some day.’ So when Marc Platt said to me, ‘Hey, there’s a chance we can get Bruce Willis,’ I thought that would be amazing.”

Platt concurs, “Bruce Willis is iconic in any kind of action movie. Casting him as Jimmy was a tremendous coup.”

“Jimmy is a cranky, irritable cop with a wisecracking sense of humor,” offers Willis. “He shoots first, asks questions later, and cracks jokes whenever he can.”

Says Smith, “During production, I sat around set all day and watched the movie in a little monitor, as directors do, seeing what the camera sees. So in reality, I sat there all day watching a Bruce Willis movie, which is what I do at home anyway for free.”

The Cullen brothers describe Willis’ character, Jimmy, as someone who’s been a detective for over 20 years, is divorced and somewhat lonely. “He hasn’t gotten the breaks to move ahead in the department. He’s more like the gunslinger of the old West, who has his own code of conduct,” says Mark.

Robb adds, “Jimmy’s very conflicted because his ex-wife has married up and is doing very well, his daughter now is participating in that wealthy lifestyle, and he’s still living in an apartment by himself. And, on top of that, his daughter’s insufferable stepfather is practically shaming Jimmy into letting him pay for his daughter’s wedding. I think all of that is adding up to making him feel less of a man at times.”

Not about to be upstaged at his own daughter’s wedding, Jimmy has made the decision to cash in his priceless ’52 Pafko baseball card to pay for something even more priceless–his daughter’s happiness. However, mid-sale, the Pafko becomes the “victim” of a robbery, right under the not-so-watchful eye of Jimmy’s partner, Paul. Paul is in the midst of his own family drama…even if it is of his own making. In addition to trying to catch criminals, he is also trying to catch his wife in the act with another man.¬†

Tracy Morgan as Paul

Tracy Morgan, who plays the role of Paul, says he was drawn to the project because “the script was hilarious, and I loved the character. I took to him like a fish to water. Paul has some insecurities, deep down. ‘Is she cheating, is she not cheating?’ He loves her, but he just takes it too far.”

Says Platt, “Tracy Morgan is just so hilarious and his mind works in such a random fashion–the dots don’t always seem like they’ll connect, but the way they ultimately do is part of his comedy.”

“People kept asking me, ‘Is Tracy really that crazy?’ and I just said to them, ‘Crazy like a fox.’ He knows how to use it selectively,” relates Smith. “He’s acting. Anybody can stand out there and say goofy things, but Tracy can sell it. It’s a gift, and he came into this role loaded for bear.”

“The fact that Kevin allowed him to go there created just the kind of comedy that is very unique to Tracy, but also gave Bruce something to play off of and react to,” adds Platt.

“The chemistry’s there,” states Smith. “The Bruce-of-it-all gives you the gravitas; you add Tracy and that’s funny, that’s fresh, that’s different.”

“It was impossible to know what was going to come out of Tracy’s mouth. Much of the comedy was derived from that improv and from the kind of environment Kevin fostered between all of the actors on the set,” says Platt.

“We started with a great script, and had brilliant ad-libbers in the cast. We always knew there’d be the scripted take, and then the takes where we would deviate and see where it went,” says Smith. “Some of the coolest stuff in the movie is the flights of fancy that happened on set.”