NEW YORK – Bruce Willis is stepping away from acting after a diagnosis of aphasia, a condition that causes loss of the ability to understand or express speech, his family said Wednesday.
In a statement posted on Willis' Instagram page, the 67-year-old actor's family announced that Willis was recently diagnosed with aphasia and that it 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," read the statement signed by Willis' wife, Emma Heming Willis, his ex-wife Demi Moore, and his five children, Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel and Evelyn.
“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,” they said. “As Bruce always says, ‘Live it up’ and together we plan to do just that.”
There are many potential causes of aphasia. It often occurs after a stroke or head injury, but can also develop gradually due to a slow-growing brain tumor or a disease that causes degenerative damage, like Alzheimer's disease. It's treated primarily with speech therapy and learning non-verbal means of communication.
Willis' family didn't divulge what caused his aphasia. Representatives for the actor declined to comment.
The news about Willis, one of Hollywood's most beloved actors, immediately spread online as fans reacted. His four-decade career has amassed more than $5 billion in box office worldwide,
Willis had been working steadily and frequently. Renowned for films like “Die Hard," “Pulp Fiction" and “The Sixth Sense,” Willis has in recent years churned out straight-to-video thrillers. Last year, he starred in a staggering eight films. Most came and went quietly, including titles like “Cosmic Sin,” “Out of Death” and “Deadlock.”
Most recently, Willis starred in February's “Gasoline Alley" and “A Day to Die,” released in early March. Willis has already shot at least six more films due out in 2022 and 2023, including “Die Like Lovers," “Corrective Measures" and “The Wrong Place.”