Famed Die Hard action star Bruce Willis sadly says he has to “step away from acting” due to a rare medical condition. Willis has been diagnosed with aphasia, his family recently announced.
Bruce Willis’ family announced this week that the actor has been diagnosed with aphasia and is stepping away from his career.
Aphasia is a medical condition that leaves patients struggling to understand language and communicate. Dr. Borna Bonakdarpour, a behavioral neurologist with Northwestern Medicine, said about one million people in the United States currently have aphasia, which disrupts the ability to speak, read and write.
Aphasia is not a disease but a “constellation of symptoms,” Bonakdarpour says that makes it difficult or impossible to express or comprehend language. The disorder stems from damage to the parts of the brain that are responsible for language functions, which are typically housed on the left side of the brain.
All cases of aphasia stem from neurological changes in the brain. Strokes resulting in brain damage are the number-one cause. However, neither a spokesperson for Willis nor anyone in his family has confirmed if the action star had a stroke or indicated any other disease or injury that could be responsible for his condition.
Several friends and celebrities are now sharing their memories with Willis and words of encouragement for the actor and his family.
The 67-year-old’s family members – including ex-wife Demi Moore, daughter Rumer Willis, wife Emma Heming – all posted a statement on Instagram, explaining the disease is impacting his cognitive abilities.
“This is a really challenging time for our family, and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion, and support,” the family’s statement reads. “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.”
The message was signed by Heming, Moore, and his children, Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel, and Evelyn.
The family’s Instagram posts were flooded with comments from well-known friends. “Grace and guts! Love to you all!” Jamie Lee Curtis wrote.
“We love Bruce so much❤️Sending love to him and your family. Bruce has given us sooo much! What an amazing career. May he rest and recover,” commented actress Debi Mazar.
“My heart goes out to Bruce, and all of the family. So thankful you shared this with us. Keeping you all in our prayers,” actress and producer Rita Wilson, who appeared in “Story of Us” alongside Willis, wrote.
“Sending love and support, dearest Demi,” commented Willis’ former co-star Melanie Griffith.
M. Night Shyamalan, who directed Willis in “Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable,” tweeted, “All my love and respect to my big brother Bruce Willis. I know his wonderful family is surrounding him with support and strength. He will always be that hero on that poster on my wall as a kid.”
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, who is an aphasia advocate and suffered a brain injury during an assassination attempt in 2011, also tweeted about the actor.
“I’m thinking of Bruce Willis and his family today. Aphasia makes it hard for me to find the right words. It can be lonely and isolating, but @FriendsAphasia is trying to change that,” she said, referring to the Arizona-based charity organization. “To everyone living with aphasia, I’m here for you. We got this.”
Fellow Arizonan Megan McCain, whose father, the late John McCain, served as senator for 31 years, also shared words of encouragement. “So much love, light, prayers, and strength to Bruce Willis, his wife, children, [Demi Moore] and their entire family during this time,” McCain tweeted.
“Have faith, there is hope and incredible geniuses at Mayo Clinic and NIH who work in neurology & study brains. Breakthroughs truly happen every day,” she said. Her father was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in 2017 and died in 2018.