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Bruce Willis on vodka and Polish warrior-kings

August 4, 2010 |  8:00 am

Bruce Willis is adjusting himself in the handsome leather chair in a suite at the historic Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard, where right across the street his hand prints are being sized up by tourists. Acting oddly uncomfortable, the movie star squirms in the chair as if it were a hot seat. But all he is there to do is conduct two quick interviews with the media about a new vodka he is representing, and then lead a toast to 90 or so invited guests at the swanky pool.

If anyone could use a shot of the new Belvedere vodka, Sobieski, Willis himself seems to be the prime candidate. But after a few seconds of breaking the ice and sizing up the room, the "Die Hard" star focuses up and quietly explains that he became the pitchman not because of the success of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' success hawking Ciroc or any of the other countless celebs endorsing booze, but simply "because I am a vodka man."

The 17th century Polish warrior-king Jan Sobieski III may be the patriarch for whom the modestly priced ($11 a bottle) vodka was named, but it is Willis who received a king's ransom for his endorsement. Belvedere gave him a 3.3% share of the company (no, not in the fledgling Sobieski but in the parent company, Belvedere) in exchange for use of his name, likeness and participation in the commercials in which the action star freely admits that he knows nothing about how to make the liquor. "But what do I know about saving the world from impending doom? Even less," Willis exclaims in the spot titled "Bruce Has Ideas," adding, "You see, I'm an actor."

-- Tony Pierce

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