Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan is especially fond of Bruce Willis, the now-retired actor who appeared in a handful of the former’s films. Quite notably, Willis co-starred with Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, the hit film that essentially put Shyamalan on the map as a Hollywood director. In the movie, released in 1999, Willis plays a therapist whose child patient (Osment) can see and speak to dead people. The film is particularly well-known for its twist ending, something that would become commonplace in future Shyamalan stories.
After The Sixth Sense, Willis would appear in another three films for Shyamalan. That includes another starring role in Unbreakable, a part he reprised for a special cameo in Split followed by the character’s third and final run in Glass. Willis has since retired from acting due to his aphasia diagnosis, as announced last year. In a new interview with THR, Shyamalan reflected on his relationship with the iconic actor. The Sixth Sense helmer has nothing but praise for Willis and says he’s “grateful” for having the actor in his corner at the start of his career.
When Shyamalan was developing Split, he had the idea of sneaking in Willis for a special appearance as his character from Unbreakable, revealing that the two films were part of a shared story. The problem was that Unbreakable was owned by Disney and Split is a Universal film. But as Shyamalan explains, he personally secured the necessary permissions to use the character in Split without even telling Universal until the scene had been shot.
Willis is enjoying retirement, but Shyamalan is far from finished. His newest movie, Knock at the Cabin, hits theaters on Feb. 3.