Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with aphasia, a medical condition in which a person loses the ability to speak or communicate, and will be stepping back from his acting career, his family said on Wednesday.
"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," his family said in a statement. "As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him."
Aphasia is a condition that happens suddenly after a medical incident like a stroke, or gradually as part of a neurological disorder or injury. Gabby Giffords, a former US representative, was diagnosed with aphasia after she was shot in the head during a mass shooting in 2011. Aphasia limits a person’s ability to express or understand language, including reading and writing. It is a condition more common than Parkinson’s disease or cerebral palsy, affecting about 2 million people in the US, according to the National Aphasia Association. Nearly 180,000 Americans are diagnosed with aphasia each year.
Several family members, including the actor's wife Emma Heming Willis and ex-wife Demi Moore — with whom he has maintained a close friendship — posted the statement on their social media accounts.
"This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support. 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."
A prolific actor who has starred in some of the most successful box office action movies, Willis, 67, has maintained a busy filming schedule even throughout the pandemic. He wrapped up five filming projects in 2022 alone and currently has six movies in postproduction, according to his IMDB page.
He has won two Emmy Awards, including one in 1986 for his lead role in Moonlighting, the TV show that launched his career, and a Golden Globe. But he is best known for playing edgy, fallible protagonists in action blockbusters, such as John McClane in the Die Hard franchise.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Willis's representative for further comment.