He'll play the role of a disliked principal in a new film that has the working titles of "The Assassination of a High School Principal" and "The Sophomore."
Bayonne High School will also have a starring role in the production.
Background producer Tomas Deckaj said the classic architecture of Bayonne High School lends visual appeal to the film, although in the film, the school will be known as St. Donovan's Prep.
There will be other local aspects of the film. The production company, named after the working title "The Sophomore," is based in Hoboken.
Mischa Barton, an actress who appeared in plays, movies and television, will play the female lead in the film. She recently moved into an apartment in Hoboken.
"I do intelligent roles. I don't want to be labeled as doing silly movies," she said in one of her online interviews. "I'm more mature than kids my age because I'm constantly surrounded by adults."
While the film is considered independent, representatives from the company say this is a high-end independent film.
Willis' daughter, Rumer Willis, will also appear in this film. Her mother and Willis's ex-wife, Demi Moore, filmed the 1991 "Mortal Thoughts" partly in Bayonne.
Tim Calpin and Kevin Jakubowski, formerly of the TV series "South Park," derived the script from a film treatment.
"The story starts with a high school journalist who is investigating the theft of the school's SAT exams," said Deckaj, "and then it gets interesting as things unfold."
Willis plays the part the principal John T. Kirkpatrick, who is a veteran of the Desert Storm campaign, a mean dude with an attitude who commonly refers to the students of this Catholic high school as "filth."
The principal often spouts anecdotes about his efforts at liberating Kuwait back in the good old days of 1991. The film uses more than 300 extras during one of its larger scenes, Homecoming Day, Deckaj said.
While the film is set in what Deckaj called "a timeless era," much of the talk dates it as contemporary.
In the school for four weeks
The film crew will be at the high school for four weeks total. Willis is expected to come in for several days of shooting in which all of his parts will be shot.
Patrick Gibbons, the second assistant director on the film, said the entire film is being shot at the high school with the exception of some exterior shots.
"We'll have one day of exterior work," he said. "We've worked with Bayonne before, and we're happy to work here. This city treats us great."
The film is on a tight time frame.
"We need to be out of the high school by the time school starts in September," Deckaj said. "This school makes a great studio for us. Each of the stars has a room, and so do all the departments."
Deckaj said the film is being geared for a national release at some point next summer.
"Its release depends on what it may be going against," he said.
Gibbons said films of this kind are generally released about a year after they have been filmed.
While some staff have described the film as "a dark comedy" that makes good use of Willis' macho credentials, others say that it also deals with some of the relevant issues facing today's high school students, and is sensitive to some of the recent history of violence that has plagued American high schools.
The film will have a "hard-boiled" edge complete with a voiceover by Bobby Funke, who plays a bullied reporter.
The film is being directed by Brent Simon and distributed by Bob Yari of the Yari Film Group, one of the premier distributors of independent films.
A few other key people involved include Brian Bell, who is a well-established TV and independent film producer, and Sean Fogel, who has done production work on films such as "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "You've Got Mail."
Willis is a Jersey boy
Although born in West Germany, Willis grew up in New Jersey and graduated from high school here before going to New York to become an actor. He waited tables and tended bar for a living until he began to get roles in plays. While tending bar one night, he was seen by a casting director who liked his personality. The director needed a bartender for a small movie role.
"I am a sensitive guy," Willis once told an interviewer. "People think they know the real me, but they don't. And then they write things that make me sound like such a jerk."
Willis had many unaccredited roles before he landed his role as detective David Addison in the TV series "Moonlighting," which established him as a star. But his rise to superstar status came with his role as John McClane in the 1988 film hit "Die Hard" and its sequels.
He played in numerous big-budget films, but also some highly acclaimed films, such as the 1995 film "Twelve Monkeys" and the 1994 blockbuster "Pulp Fiction."
Although his salary in the film has not been disclosed, some of the salaries he received in other films have well exceeded this film's entire budget.