After getting his break on off-beat 80s detective tv series Moonlighting, Bruce Willis became a major movie star, his name on a level with his Planet Hollywood partners, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. There was a long period of time when a Willis movie was a true event, part of the annual round of major releases and blockbusters. Think Die Hard, Armageddon and Pulp Fiction.
In recent years his output has been more prolific but less notable – titles have included Apex, American Siege, Gasoline Alley, Survive the Game, Cosmic Sin and Out of Death many of which did not receive major theatrical releases. Some put that down to the natural attrition that action-stars face as they get older and audiences’ tastes change, others to simply a less discerning choice of roles (for which he’d still get paid a significant amount of money because his name carried weight) and others noted that Willis could be notoriously prickly with both the press.
But for all the potential flippant remarks and questions of his career choices, his contribution to – and his impact on – the over-all film industry and box-office receipts is undeniable… and it does appear that there could be a more serious reason attached to his recent choices – tied to becoming aware of a growing problem which would limit future roles.
His daughter, Rumer Willis, announced Wednesday that Bruce is now formally ‘stepping away’ from acting due to ongoing struggles with a serious condition ‘impacting his cognitive abilities’. Aphasia creates problems with a person’s basic communication skills – and the four main ways people understand and use language (reading, listening, speaking and writing) and can include unknowingly forgetting or replacing words in speech and text. This obviously makes reading scripts and performances problematic. It is believed these symptoms may have become more noticeable on the sets of recent projects.
The formal statement from his family, also signed by his ex-wife Demi Moore, with whom he is still close, read:
To Bruce’s amazing supporters, as a family we wanted to share that our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities. As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him.
This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support. We are moving through this as a strong family unit, and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him.As Bruce always says, “Live it up” and together we plan to do just that.
Emma, Demi, Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel, & Evelyn
In the last year Willis has completed work on Vendetta and Fortress: Sniper’s Eye with titles such as The Wrong Place, Die like Lovers, Corrective Measures, Wire Room, White Elephant and Paradise City in post-production stage. It is not known how today’s health news will impact any of those titles.
Everyone at EchoChamber wishes him – and his family – well with his current challenges.