Bruce Willis Die Hard
Bruce Willis aims a gun as others duck for cover in a scene from the film 'Mercury Rising,' 1998. (Universal/Getty Images)
Bruce Willis aims a gun as others duck for cover in a scene from the film ‘Mercury Rising,’ 1998. (Universal/Getty Images)


Guns kill. But they don’t kill an actor’s career, that’s for sure.

An interactive graph sheds new light on the strong and (depending on what you think of firearms) disturbing link between how often an actor handles a gun in his movies and that actor’s bankability.

In the embedded chart below, The Economist compared the number of gun models an actor averages per movie to his Ulmer score, which measures an actor’s ability to draw financing—a.k.a. his bankability.

In general, the more guns an actor totes per movie, the more bankable he is.


However, there are outliers. Will Ferrell and Tom Hanks, for instance, have packed relatively few pistols in their careers (7 and 13, respectively) yet boast extremely high Ulmer scores—higher than those of gun magnets like Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, and Al Pacino.

Julia Roberts and Keira Knightley have also proved quite bankable with little to no gun use on the silver screen.

On the other hand, no actor on the graph has a high gun-use rate and a low Ulmer score. Meaning, while some actors have done boffo box office without guns, no actor has bombed time and again by shooting guns.

You can draw your own conclusions by viewing the fully interactive graph here. (Be sure to drag your cursor over the unlabeled dots to view other actors’ gun-to-Ulmer ratios.)