Bruce Willis, the star of the “Die Hard” franchise and dozens of other action movies, will retire from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, a disease that has hampered his “cognitive abilities,” his family said on Wednesday.
Willis, 67, rose to fame in the 1980s comedy-drama TV series “Moonlighting,” and has appeared in about 100 films across his four-decade career, garnering acclaim for his roles in “Pulp Fiction” and “The Sixth Sense,” and winning a Golden Globe Award and two Emmys.
But Willis is perhaps best known for playing the tough-as-nails New York cop who pursued bad guys in the five “Die Hard” movies, released from 1988 to 2013.
“This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support,” his family said in a statement.
Willis and actress Demi Moore were one of Hollywood’s most high-profile celebrity couples in the 1990s until their divorce in 2000, but they remained close after the break-up. He is currently married to model and actress Emma Heming and is father to a total of five children with both women.
“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,” said the statement, which was signed by the actor’s family and shared on Instagram by Demi Moore and their daughter Rumer.
Aphasia is a disorder most commonly caused by a stroke that can also stem from head trauma or, in rare cases, from neurological disease, said Brenda Rapp, a professor of cognitive science at Johns Hopkins University. Symptoms vary widely and can affect speech, comprehension, and reading ability, Rapp said in a telephone interview. In some instances, aphasia can be treated with speech therapy.
Willis had been especially active in recent years. He appeared in eight movies released in 2021 alone, none of which were critically acclaimed.