Yesterday Bruce Willis’ daughter announced he was stepping away from acting because of a brain disorder called Aphasia:
In a post on his daughter Rumer’s verified Instagram account, the caption on a photo of the “Die Hard” actor 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,” the caption continued. “This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support. “
Aphasia is apparently pretty common, especially among people who’ve had a stroke, and results in people having difficulty communicating.
People with aphasia can have problems finding words, use words out of order, speak in a choppy, halting manner or use short fragments of speech. They can even make up nonsense words and sprinkle those into their speech and writing, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
So it’s easy to see how that would be a real problem for an actor who needs to remember lines and deliver them accurately on cue. Unfortunately, Bruce Willis is such a big star that people are eager to have him appear in their movies even if he can’t really deliver his lines. Some have noticed that Willis career had turned toward direct-to-streaming low-budget films in the last couple years.
While I wasn't paying attention Bruce Willis became the king of crappy, low budget, direct to video action films. 32 of them since 2014. Apparently he gets most of the film's budget to show up for a day or two of filming then they build the rest of the movie around that. Nice. pic.twitter.com/QhG0CCAFHM
— Jack Boot (@IamJackBoot) February 18, 2022
Last month, the Razzies, which gives out awards for bad films and bad acting created a special Bruce Willis category:
Willis has been given a special category called ‘Worst Bruce Willis Performance in a 2021 movie’ after releasing eight films – namely American Siege, Apex, Cosmic Sin, Deadlock, Fortress, Midnight In The Switchgrass, Out Of Death and Survive The Game.
Obviously that was before the announcement that he was struggling with Aphasia. The people behind the Razzies initially stood by the award but today they announced they were rescinding it. But while viewers didn’t know what was up with Willis, a story published last night by the LA Times says people working on his films definitely did know.
According to those who have worked with the elder Willis on his recent films, the actor has been exhibiting signs of decline in recent years. In interviews with The Times this month, nearly two dozen people who were on set with the actor expressed concern about Willis’ well-being.
These individuals questioned whether the actor was fully aware of his surroundings on set, where he was often paid $2 million for two days of work, according to documents viewed by The Times. Filmmakers described heart-wrenching scenes as the beloved “Pulp Fiction” star grappled with his loss of mental acuity and an inability to remember his dialogue. An actor who traveled with Willis would feed the star his lines through an earpiece, known in the industry as an “earwig,” according to several sources. Most action scenes, particularly those that involved choreographed gunfire, were filmed using a body double as a substitute for Willis…
Willis’ longtime management team — including a powerhouse group of agents at the Creative Artists Agency — made sure that his film shoots were limited to two days. The actor’s contracts stipulated that he was not to work more than eight hours a day, but he often stayed for only four, according to production sources.
Jesse V. Johnson who directed a low-budget film starring Willis last April said he confronted the star’s handlers about the actor’s condition. “They stated that he was happy to be there, but that it would be best if we could finish shooting him by lunch and let him go early,” Johnson told the Times. But crew members on the film recalled Willis saying at one point, “I know why you’re here, and I know why you’re here, but why am I here?”
Assuming that’s accurate, there’s no way he should be on the set. In fact, it raises the question of whether he was making his own decision about taking these rolls or was simply being led along by a management team that was making millions of dollars by signing him up for these two-day gigs.
Of course we don’t know the whole story. Maybe in his more lucid moments, Bruce wanted to keep making movies. But at some point, long before this week, someone should have realized this was a sad way for a great career to end, i.e. with a bunch of marginal films in which he’s unable to really perform but serves as a famous face to appear in the trailer. Between this depressing story and the slap I’m starting to think there are a lot of not-so-good people in Hollywood.
I’m glad Willis is finally stepping back. He’s made more great films than most actors ever do and he has every right to rest on his laurels at this point and enjoy time with his family.