Bruce Willis Almost Lost His ‘12 Monkeys’ Role Because of Butthole-Like Mouth, Director Terry Gilliam Admits

12 Monkeys is one of the most underrated films of the ’90s. Released in 1996, the movie which centers around a prisoner named James Cole who travels through time in an attempt to stop a pandemic from wiping out the human race, hit theaters 25 years ago. The story, while mostly fantastical science fiction, might not be timelier than it is today. Bruce Willis portrayed Cole, but he almost didn’t and you can thank a less-than-favorable facial resemblance to an orifice.

In celebration of the film’s 25th anniversary, director Terry Gilliam recently spoke to Inverse about the casting of the lead role. He said he felt a lot of pressure to find the right actor. “That was at a time when I was still a hot director, so people wanted to come near me and touch me. So they were coming up with all these names. And I just kept saying no. Tom Cruise, Nic Cage, they were all being thrown at me,” he said.

Another name was thrown at him: Bruce Willis. Initially, the Brazil director didn’t want to cast the Moonlighting star. But it wasn’t because he didn’t see the action movie star working in such a serious role. It was because of the shape of his mouth. You see, Gilliam thinks that Willis’ mouth looks like a butthole.

He even elaborated on it. “Rectal. It’s like I’m looking at somebody’s asshole.”

But booty hole mouth or not, Gilliam met with Willis and decided to cast him in the movie anyway. Now, 25 years later, we can all watch the film and glare at the actor’s mouth, totally taking us out of the movie.

Photo: Universal Pictures

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