Actor Bruce Willis reportedly struggled on set for years, former coworkers have said amid his family's declaration that the action star is retiring due to an aphasia diagnosis.
Aphasia is a neurological condition affecting a person's speech and other communications including writing and understanding language and directions in both verbal and written forms.
What are the details?
At least two dozen former film staffers have told the Los Angeles Times that they suspected Willis was struggling with his cognitive abilities for the last several years.
One unnamed source told the outlet that during at least three separate occasions, Willis misfired a gun loaded with a blank. The incidents, according to the report, prompted staffers to engage safeguards when Willis was to use a firearm during a shot.
"We always made sure no one was in the line of fire when he was handling guns," a source said.
A screenwriter for action thriller "Out of Death" (released in 2021) also told the Times that at one point, director Mike Burns emailed him and told him that that Willis might struggle with lengthy lines, and requested the script be cut down.
Burns reportedly said, "We also need to abbreviate his dialogue a bit so that there are no monologues, etc."
"After the first day of working with Bruce, I could see it firsthand and I realized that there was a bigger issue at stake here and why I had been asked to shorten his lines," Burns himself told the outlet, adding that he and the screenwriter were forced to film all of Willis' scenes in just one day out of an abundance of caution.
Another added that Willis in 2021 asked what he was doing on a film set.
Willis' longtime stunt double, Stuart Wilson, told the Sun that Willis' condition went downhill in recent months.
“Sometimes when you were talking to him, he just seemed sidetracked and we would think it would mean nothing but you would wonder if there are other things going on,” he explained. “Obviously we knew there was other stuff going on at a certain point in time. We realized because he’s getting tested for different things, but at the time we didn’t know exactly what it was.”
On Wednesday, Willis' family issued a statement, which said, "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 statement continued. "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."