UNITED STATES - It's one thing to have a young superhero save the world.
But in his third testosterone-fuelled movie this year after G.I Joe: Retaliation and A Good Day To Die Hard, veteran Hollywood actor Bruce Willis, 58, shows us the meaning of an ageless action hero.
Action comedy Red 2, the sequel to the 2010 sleeper hit that opens here on Aug 1, sees him getting into high-speed car chases and shoot-'em-ups, negotiating life-and-death situations and saving millions from an impending death they are unaware of.
His character, retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses, reunites with his unlikely team of geriatric elite operatives and embarks on a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device.
At the same time, he's struggling to find work-life balance after marrying ditzy girlfriend Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), who wants to join in the bloodbath to understand her husband better.
Just as Moses works hard to keep Ross safe while she haphazardly tries to become "one of the guys", Willis said that in real life, he's "very protective" of his family of five females.
At a press conference at the Mandarin Oriental in Manhattan he said: "I have four daughters. I have a very young daughter and I've a beautiful wife that I'm extra protective of."
Willis married 35-year-old English model Emma Hemming in 2009 and they are parents to 14-month-old toddler Mabel.
He also has three grown daughters - Rumer, 24, Scout, 21, and Tallulah, 19, with ex-wife, US actress Demi Moore.
He continued: "I've been spending the last few months in Los Angeles and in Los Angeles, they have a lot of paparazzi and they are the kind of paparazzi that - not surprisingly - try to catch you doing something and I don't want my kids exposed to that."
Despite Ross' klutzy nature that blows the team's cover at least once, she uses the one tool she knows she has to her advantage - her femininity - to help the mission.
When asked what he thought were the scariest weapons a woman can have, Willis' answer was surprising.
"I'm a big fan of the idea that women are much smarter than men. Much, much smarter," he said.
"I've long ago conceded that women should be in charge of everything. Men just keep messing things up."
Moses, said Willis, is like him in some ways.
Red 2's opening scene is set in a supermarket, where our hero is pushing a shopping trolley containing denture-cleaning tablets and a large-screen television.
Willis said with a laugh: "I like to try to fill (my shopping cart) with stuff and when I get to the counter I go, 'I don't need any of these. I don't need this TV... And a lifetime's supply of toilet paper?'"
Still, for someone who has appeared for the fifth time as iconic NYPD cop John McClane from the Die Hard franchise, it looks like he'll be racing right into his golden years with all the energy of an action hero.
He said: "I've started to think about my age. I'm reminded about it from time to time, but I can still move rapidly if I have to... And in a straight line!
"I'm sure there will come a day when I begin to slow down, but I haven't slowed down yet. I still like what I do...They're very fun they're challenging, ambitious films."
Not slowing down
Also not slowing down is 67-year-old British actress Helen Mirren, who returns to Red 2 alongside senior castmates John Malkovich, Anthony Hopkins and Brian Cox.
"There's certain action that only young bodies can do, certain physical feats that you just can't do when you're in your 50s or 60s... When you can't do it physically, you have to think more. You have to use your brain," she said with a laugh.
Mirren reprises her role as Victoria Winters, Frank's one-time ally who is now employed by MI6 to kill him, and cherished the opportunity to get back to "firing arms".
She said: "Before I did the first one, I'd never handled a gun. So it was completely unfamiliar territory for me… We always have great arms advisers."
Seated beside Willis, the Oscar winner shared an easy camaraderie with him.
"I think in a way that's the fun of Red 2. It's not just about muscles, about physicality, it's not about armour.
"This is about people who have to think. It's not remotely intellectual but at the same time it's about people thinking on their feet. That's also where the comedy comes out of."
When asked what it felt like to reunite for the second go-round, Mirren said: "You know the way you meet your old college friends... It was as if we had all hung out in college in the 60s together."
She then quipped to Willis: "Well, you more in the 70s."
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