"My advice for anyone who lives through [divorce] is to put the children first," says Willis (at home in Malibu with his dog Bella).
03/10/2005 AT 12:00 PM EST
In his 20 years of stardom, Bruce Willis has been a TV detective, an action hero, a dead guy and – his most surprising role – the poster father for happy postdivorce families. Since he and Demi Moore split in 2000, they have shared custody of their three daughters – Rumer, 16, Scout, 13, and Tallulah, 11. And yes, he is pals with his ex-wife's love interest, Ashton Kutcher. (Both Moore and Willis live in L.A. and maintain homes near each other in Hailey, Idaho.) This week the family man takes his eldest daughter to work: Rumer appears in his new thriller Hostage. Willis – who turns 50 this month – sat down one recent afternoon with PEOPLE senior editor Jess Cagle at Manhattan's Peninsula Hotel. While guzzling one cappuccino after another, he spoke about his marriage, his girls and his romantic future.
People are fascinated at how close you and Demi have stayed since your divorce. How do you make that work?
Early on Demi and I decided to put the kids first. What you see is the result of that. I have to give credit to Will Smith, who, at a time when I really could use it, gave me some great advice. He said you've gotta let the kids know it's okay for everybody to be together – you know, exes, new partners. I am still great friends with Demi. I am honestly great friends with Ashton. We go on vacations together. I think how Demi and I and Ashton and my three daughters are handling this is evolution.