But perhaps what most drew Bruce to his wife—whose dark coloring and piercing eyes occasionally call his ex-wife to mind—is her quiet elegance. In May Emma appeared with her husband at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute gala. The night’s theme was “The Model as Muse,” and many of her fellow models, most with names far more recognizable than hers, showed up in eye-popping minidresses and femme-fatale eyeliner. Clad in a long, flowing Donna Karan dress and wearing minimal makeup, with her hair in a simple bun, Emma almost seemed to be attending a different event. And yet, those not wholly distracted by Gisele’s glittery, barely there Versace could plainly see that Emma was one of the most stunning women in attendance. “She’s never loud, never showy,” says Kates. “She doesn’t need to do that.”
“Emma is unbelievably calm and nondemanding,” says Robert Kraft, the president of Fox Music and Bruce’s decades-long best friend. “She has made Bruce incredibly centered.”
Bruce is quite obviously a man who places the utmost value on self-possession, and his wife—virtually oozing levelheadedness—seems the earthly embodiment of it. “She’s reserved; she’s not all, ‘Hey, oh my God!’” Bruce says, waving his hands frantically in the air and turning into some kind of crazed Valley-girl fan before adding, “Okay, that was a bad impression.” But it’s the first of several times he adopts a voice ringing with frenetic energy to denote the kind of person who turns him off. Bruce himself speaks in a markedly modulated voice, one so low in both volume and pitch that at times it’s hard to hear him. It’s almost as if he’s controlling his tendency to speak his mind—something that, in the past, has led him to misrepresent his own views. Take, for example, the fact that much of America believes Bruce Willis to be one of the most conservative actors in Hollywood, second perhaps only to Mel Gibson. Though he did support George W. Bush in 2000 and attended the Republican National Convention in 1992, Bruce has spent multiple interviews trying to explain away or modify previous political declarations—like the time he told reporters at a press conference that the U.S. should invade Colombia to end drug trafficking.
For the record, he says, he voted enthusiastically for Barack Obama in the last election, and his musings on politics the day we meet sound like those of a bona fide bleeding heart. “There are 500,000 kids in the foster-care program at any given time, and it could all be helped by money,” says Bruce, who became the national spokesman for children in foster care during George W. Bush’s presidency and will continue in that role during the current administration. “Just give us half a billion, and the foster system could be enormously helped. Just like education could be helped by money. When you’re talking about $800 billion to bail out people who made automobiles, when you could be helping kids, things need to be reprioritized.”