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Tom Cavanagh stars in “the Bruce Willis movie,” and he couldn’t be more grateful.
The “Die Hard” icon, one of Hollywood’s most beloved actors, plays an evil genius in TUBI’s “Corrective Measures,” an action-packed thriller based on the graphic novel of the same name.
The 67-year-old takes on the role of Julius “The Lobe” Loeb, a notorious inmate of San Tiburon, the world’s most dangerous maximum-security penitentiary. It is home to monsters, treacherous criminals, villains, and cyborgs, all of whom are controlled by 24-hour power inhibitors and shock collars. Cavanagh, who plays Gordon “The Conductor” Tweedy, unleashes chaos on the prison system.
“It’s a privilege,” Cavanagh told Fox News Digital of working with Willis in one of his final roles. In March, Willis’ family announced that the star was giving up acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, a condition that results in the loss of the ability to understand or express speech.
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“Growing up as a young actor, I remember being hyper-influenced by his mastery of the screen,” said Cavanagh, 58. “It’s not as easy as people think to do little things and have this big project. Not every actor can do that. Few actors do that.
“Even when Bruce was doing ‘Moonlighting,’ he had the ability to say nothing and yet command the screen,” Cavanagh noted of Willis’ Emmy-winning series alongside Cybill Shepherd, which aired from 1985 to 1989.
“And then, of course, he moved on to huge movie franchises, like ‘Die Hard.’ But one of the things that Bruce did that always impressed me was the way he played a regular person in extraordinary circumstances. As he was saving the day, he was scared and vulnerable, which I think is part of the appeal.
Cavanagh said that over the years he’s been impressed with Willis’ ability to bring compelling characters to life. It was no different when it came to filming “Corrective Measures,” and Cavanagh insisted that Willis was the real deal.
“People can relate to someone like that, as opposed to a superhero,” he explained. “A lot of times the mistake people make when doing these superhero stories is projecting their strength, knowing they’re going to be successful, and then adding an element of fear. [But] fear and vulnerability make it identifiable and you can relate to it. It’s very difficult to identify with someone who is never afraid, who knows that he will succeed [before] the end of the movie. Bruce Willis’ portrayals are such that he doesn’t know the end of the film.
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“I don’t even know if Bruce is aware of the influence he has had, but those of us who team up with him consider it a privilege,” Cavanagh added.
Although he’s already a fan, Cavanagh said it wasn’t surreal to see Willis appear on set for the first time. He described how the actor was dedicated to the role and eager to work alongside his castmates.
“When that actor’s bell goes off, it doesn’t matter what anybody has done,” Cavanagh said. “We all want to tell a story equally and fairly. And when the bell rings, it’s every man for himself. You’ll see in this movie how my character copes when he starts destroying things in the prison. And I think that attitude is something that Bruce has probably adopted over the course of his career… everyone tries to tell the best story possible that will make a good final version.
And aside from working with Willis, taking “corrective action” was an easy yes for Cavanagh, who has already made his mark on the CW superhero series “The Flash.”
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“I’m doing a superhero show as a day job, and I’m running another one as a day job, so I’m half familiar with the bloated comic book genre,” he said. laughed. “But I also like the prison-break genre. It was very apparent from the first pages of [‘Corrective Measures’] that it combines these two worlds. Right from the start, I immediately thought ‘Oh, that’s great!’ When I first read the script, I didn’t even know it was based on a graphic novel, to begin with. But I got hooked right away. So combining all of those elements was really a no-brainer for a guy like me to step in.”
Willis’ family shared that his aphasia diagnosis impacted his cognitive abilities.
“As a result and with great consideration, Bruce is stepping away from the career that meant so much to him,” a statement signed by Willis’ wife Emma Heming Willis, ex-wife Demi Moore and his five children – Rumer , Scout, Tallulah, Mabel and Evelyn — and posted on her Instagram account said.
“We’re going through this as a strong family unit and we wanted to bring in his fans because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him,” they said. “As Bruce always says, ‘Live it up’ and together we plan to do just that.”
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There are many potential causes of aphasia. It often occurs after a stroke or head injury, but can also develop gradually due to a slow-growing brain tumor or a disease that causes degenerative damage, such as Alzheimer’s disease. It is treated mainly by speech therapy and learning non-verbal means of communication.
Willis’ family has not disclosed the cause of his aphasia. Representatives for the actor declined to comment.
News of Willis immediately spread online as fans reacted. His four-decade career has amassed over $5 billion at the global box office.
Willis had worked steadily and frequently. Renowned for films like “Die Hard,” “Pulp Fiction” and “The Sixth Sense,” Willis has in recent years produced direct-to-video thrillers. Last year, he starred in eight stunning films. Most came and went quietly, including tracks like “Cosmic Sin”, “Out of Death” and “Deadlock”.
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More recently, Willis starred in “Gasoline Alley” and “A Day to Die” in February, released in early March. Willis has already filmed at least six other films slated for release in 2022 and 2023, including “Die Like Lovers,” “Corrective Measures” and “The Wrong Place.”
“Corrective Measures” is available to stream on TUBI. The Associated Press contributed to this report.