Cop Out - Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis
Paul (Tracy Morgan) and Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) © Warner Bros

In Cop Out Bruce Willis portrays veteran NYPD Detective Jimmy Monroe, who is on the trail of a stolen, rare baseball card that has been stolen – from him, as he desperately needs the money from selling the card to fund his daughter’s wedding.

He’s assisted by Detective Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan), who is preoccupied by the idea that his wife might be having an affair. These longtime partners-against-crime break a few rules themselves in working the case.

It’s the first time Willis and Morgan have worked together, and judging from their rapport on screen and in their interview for the film, they’ll probably be acting together again soon.

What did both of you see in this script that interested you?

Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) © Warner Bros

Bruce Willis: Cop Out really is a 2010 version of a genre film that has been around since the forties really. I’ve seen a lot of things lately comparing our film to Beverly Hills Cop, and they always choose to mention that there weren’t racial overtones. We never gave a thought, not one day, about should this have some kind of racial content.

We were having so much fun and getting along so well that there was never any time to think about it. On the other hand, I’m really proud of the fact that we never felt the need to mention it, we never felt the need to make it about some kind of racial struggle, the fact that we get along so well and we loved each other so much, and we were such good friends that it just wasn’t necessary.

Tracy Morgan: It’s not what I’d seen in the script, it was what I didn’t see. I didn’t see that I had to drive nobody around, nobody had to call nobody Miss Daisy, and I didn’t have to lift no heavy boxes, so I was down!

Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) and Paul (Tracy Morgan) © Warner Bros

Can you talk a little about your characters in it?

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

Tracy Morgan: 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.

Is this a nice change of pace for you to do a comedy?

Bruce Willis: f I had a choice, I would do comedy all the time. It’s just the most challenging thing to make someone laugh, and the most rewarding thing in entertainment.

To be funny I think you have to commit to the truth of whatever story you’re telling, whether it’s the craziest story you’ve ever heard, whatever that is, you have to commit to it like it really happened. Comedy is the hardest thing in the world.

Paul (Tracy Morgan) and Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) © Warner Bros

What was it like working with each other?

Tracy Morgan: First of all, he’s a real cool dude, down to earth, and just going to work every day and telling my friends and my family that I’m working with Bruce Willis was the coolest thing, they didn’t believe it, but now there are billboards all over the place with me and Bruce.

Bruce Willis: I went to work every day knowing I was working with a consummate professional, a truly funny guy that I could count on, that I could throw the ball to and know that he would hit it out of the park. And when you have that kind of confidence in your partner, and the guy that you’re working with, you can take risks that you might not normally take.

Tracy Morgan: I felt like when I started working with Bruce it just solidified, I’m not saying (I’m going to win) an Academy Award, but it makes you authentic. It makes my career authentic now, I’ve worked with Bruce Willis, I can have that conversation.

Was it hard not to crack up during the scenes?

Bruce Willis: There are scenes in the film where I’m trying not to laugh. There were a lot of times where we broke, and it wasn’t just me, there were a lot times where you could hear the whole crew laughing, because they were watching the monitors.

What do you think cops will think of this movie?

Bruce Willis: I think cops need to laugh more than anybody else in the world. I can’t think of another group of people who work at really hard jobs, and who get shot at every night, who couldn’t use an opportunity to go out and have a good laugh.

Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) © Warner Bros

Is there anything you still strive to play in your career?

Bruce Willis: I don’t know if I have anything specific that I can say I want to play. What I really love about Hollywood is out of nowhere somebody that you’ve never heard of, some young kid, writes a script that is brand new stuff, has a brand new thought, a brand new concept, and I think, ‘Wow, just when I thought I’ve seen the last action film that I would ever do, here’s one that has something that I’ve never seen.’

I’ve been talking with M Night Shyamalan about going back and doing the middle story to Unbreakable. That whole story was written in three parts, and he just chose to shoot the origin story first, where the two characters find out that they have superpowers. What he wanted to do at the time was shoot the second part where the two superheroes fight, and we didn’t do that. But he’s still talking about shooting that film.

You guys had a nice chemistry together

Bruce Willis: Yeah, we might do another movie. If it’s not the sequel to this, then it will be something else.

Tracy Morgan: Times are changing, you’ve got a black dude on a poster all around New York holding a gun and nobody’s complaining. Ain’t that cool?

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter. More by Judy Sloane