Bruce Willis' Director Says He Saw Signs Actor Was Declining Years Before Recent Diagnosis

Taylor Sakellis
bruce willis
Getty | Rich Fury

Fans of Hollywood legend Bruce Willis were surprised to receive the devastating news of the actor's diagnosis with aphasia on Wednesday. In a heartfelt post shared by his family, it was announced that Bruce will be stepping down from acting as his cognitive brain functions have been compromised.

Co-stars and friends of the actor quickly took to social media to send messages of love to Bruce and the entire Willis family.

Bruce Willis is, without a doubt, one of the most beloved and recognizable actors in Hollywood.

Best known for his starring roles in cult-classic films like Die Hard, The Sixth Sense, Pulp Fiction, and Armageddon, Bruce is just one of those actors everyone loves.

As it turns out, everyone in his personal life loved him just as much.

In the days following the announcement, many friends and co-workers are sharing their experiences of working with the "Die Hard" actor.

In an article written by the L.A. Times, more than two dozen people who worked with Bruce in the years leading up to his aphasia diagnosis.

Mike Burns, director of one of Bruce's more recent films, 2021's "Out of Death" explained that he had to cut more than five pages of the actor's dialogue.

bruce willis
Giphy | The Academy Awards

"After the first day of working with Bruce I could see it firsthand," he described, "and I realized that there was a bigger issue at stake here and why I had been asked to shorten his lines."

He also recalled being asked to take all of Bruce's dialogue, around 25 pages, and work it into just one day of shooting.

When it was time to film a second film, things weren't any better.

"I didn’t think he was better," Mike recalled. "I thought he was worse."

bruce willis

"I am relieved that he is taking time off," he added.

He's not the only one who realized how Bruce's mental wellbeing was declining, either.

Jesse V. Johnson directed the upcoming film "White Elephant" which Bruce stars in.

Johnson first met Bruce decades ago when he was working as a stuntman, however, when they got to meet again just before White Elephant was to begin shooting, he said "it was clear that he was not the Bruce I remembered."

Johnson was immediately concerned.

Bruce Willis smiling.

He approached Willis' team immediately and asked about his condition. “They stated that he was happy to be there, but that it would be best if we could finish shooting him by lunch and let him go early."

Throughout the filming, which for Bruce only lasted a maximum of two days at eight hours per day, he was confused.

He didn't seem to understand why he was there, though he seemed to know why everyone else was and what they were doing.

Other crew members also noticed his behavior.

Bruce Willis smiling in sunglasses.

"It was less of an annoyance and more like: ‘How do we not make Bruce look bad?’" one of them said. "Someone would give him a line and he didn’t understand what it meant. He was just being puppeted."

While it's heartbreaking to know how long he's been struggling, I'm glad Bruce is taking the break he needs.

h/t: L.A. Times