Bruce Willis once tried to break into a NASA space shuttle

Armageddon director Michael Bay reveals that, while on set of the 1998 movie, Bruce Willis tried to break into a space shuttle

(Image credit: Buena Vista Pictures)

In a new interview with Variety promoting his latest film Ambulance, superstar director Michael Bay had plenty of nice words to say about actor Bruce Willis, whom he directed in his third ever feature, Armageddon, back in 1998.

"He's a movie star," Michael said about Bruce, who recently retired from acting due to aphasia. "He can command the screen. He’s very funny too."

Speaking of the actor’s sense of humor, Michael recalled a very specific episode that happened while on the set of Armageddon, when Bruce actually attempted to break into a space shuttle while filming at NASA.

"They stopped prepping it for one hour, for us," the director said about the spaceship. "We are on the gantry [the Orbiter Access Arm, which allows access into the shuttle], and Bruce was able to walk in." Once inside, the 67-year-old actor was allowed to sit on the capsule door but, Michael recalls, he had plans to explore the vessel further.

Bruce Willis

(Image credit: Dia Dipasupil / Staff)

"[Bruce] goes to me, 'Mike, we're gonna do one take. The second take, I'm going to make a run for it and I'm going to go inside the shuttle.'"

The duo proceeded to walk towards the capsule door and, just as Bruce was about to break into the shuttle, Michael recalls "guys, all in suits, fully masked up, [wagging fingers side to side saying], 'Uh, uh, uh!'"

As hilarious as Michael’s recounting of the episode is, fans can’t help but be saddened about Bruce’s departure from acting given his recent diagnosis of aphasia, a language disorder caused by brain damage that will likely make it very difficult for him to properly communicate moving forward.

"To Bruce’s amazing supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities," Bruce's ex-wife, Demi Moore, wrote on Instagram a few weeks ago. "As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him. We are moving through this as a strong family unit, and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him. As Bruce always says, 'Live it up,' and together we plan to do just that."

The message was signed by Bruce's current wife, Emma Heming Willis, and all of the actor's kids: Rumer, Scout and Tallulah—whom he shares with Demi—and Mabel and Evelyn—Bruce's children with Emma.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Willis family, hoping for brighter days ahead.

Anna Rahmanan

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.