Hollywood star Bruce Willis will retire from his acting career after being diagnosed with aphasia, a disease that is “impacting his cognitive abilities,” his family said in a statement on Wednesday.
Willis, 67, who achieved initial fame for the 1980s comedy-drama TV series “Moonlighting” before he became the tough guy, action hero who shouted “Yippee Ki Yay” in five “Die Hard” films, has appeared in about 100 films across his four decade career, winning acclaim for roles in “Pulp Fiction” and “The Sixth Sense.”
Willis has won one Golden Globe Award and two Emmys.
“This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support,” the family statement said.
“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,” the statement said.
Willis was married to actress Demi Moore until they divorced in 2000, but they remained close. He is currently married to model and actress Emma Heming and has five children.
Aphasia is a condition affecting an individual’s ability to speak and effectively communicate with others, including to speak and write. It can occur after strokes or head injuries but can also arise over time due to brain tumors or degenerative diseases, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Willis had been especially active in recent years. He appeared in eight movies released in 2021, though they were not critically acclaimed. The satirical Razzie film awards gave Willis his own special category this year, nominating him eight times for “Worst Performance by Bruce Willis in a 2021 Movie.” The one called “Cosmic Sin” was awarded the Razzie on Saturday.
Fans shared sadness, shock and tributes to Willis on social media as news of his diagnosis broke.
A fan with a Twitter handle Cody Leach, wrote, “My heart goes out to #BruceWillis and his family. His work has meant more to me than I could ever put into words… If this is in fact the end of your acting career, all I can say is thank you. We love you Bruce.”
Another fan, RiffTrax, wrote on Twitter, “Respect to a good actor and legendary recording artist, been a hell of a career. #BruceWillis.”