It is from Crash Course Big History. it is at around 10 minute and 28 second. Here it goes:

In fact, on the scale of millions years, a devastating eruption is almost guaranteed to happen. And unlike an asteroid, one can't go all Bruce Willis and blow up a super eruption with a nuke.

Does this this mean no one can turn into Bruce Willis?

  • 2
    This is a good question, because the meaning is difficult to look up. To "go all _____" means "to act in the manner of _____" or "to display the characteristic of _____", like Raygun says. It doesn't necessarily have to be a person; for example, here's "Don't go all European" and here's "Don't go all mushy"
    – stangdon
    Apr 11, 2018 at 17:20

3 Answers 3


This is a film reference. The short answer is that it means you cannot blow up a volcano with a thermonuclear device to prevent a disaster in the way the character played by Bruce Willis blew up the problematic asteroid in Armageddon (1998).

There are two components of interest here: to be|go|get|turn something, and the insertion of all/like/all like.

Go is one of those English words with a seemingly limitless number of uses and meanings. The original and primary sense is to move from one place to another (e.g. go to the forest), but after many extensions of metaphorical use, can also mean to become something, or to change your state to something:

  1. linking verb + adj. to become different in a particular way, especially a bad way
    • to go bald/blind/mad/bankrupt, etc.
    • Her hair is going grey.
    • This milk has gone sour.
    • The children went wild with excitement.

In formal registers, what you go/get/etc. is limited to adjectives of quality or state: she can go native, he can go barefoot, the woods can go silent, the sky can go cloudy, etc. In casual usage, however, anything goes; you can go postal or go medieval.

And from this, you can see how to go [noun] has come to mean to become [noun] or to take on the qualities of [noun]: you might say she went Homer Simpson on those donuts to say she consumed the donuts gluttonously or greedily, or that he's going lone wolf on this project meaning he is rejecting being part of a team.

The all here, like like or all like, in very informal speech, can be interpreted as a filler, though it can also be used for intensification, or conversely for hedging/quoting when go means to say or express (My dad goes "have you taken out the trash yet?" and I was all "I said I'd do it later" and my mom was like "Must we have this same argument every week?").

To go all Bruce Willis is probably just an even-slangier way to say go Bruce Willis, i.e. act like Bruce Willis, done for stylistic/creative reasons to impart a friendly or casual tone. One could alternatively interpret it as a hedge; to all [like] Bruce Willis is to be in imitation of Bruce Willis, whereas to be Bruce Willis would suggest a more direct or complete personification. Some interesting posts on the quotative all have ben covered at EL&U by Hugo in 2012 and again by Sven Yargs in 2016.


Read it as "act in the manner of", typically in an exaggerated way. This example is specifically referring to the movie Armageddon, where he attempted to blow up an asteroid with a nuclear bomb.


No, it means one can't act like Bruce Willis (or rather, like a character he has played).

I don't know enough about his films to know whether this is a reference to a particular character in a particular film, or whether it is suggesting that his characters in general tend to use an unreasonable level of violence.

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