(The Hill/NEXSTAR) — Bruce Willis’ aphasia condition has progressed to frontotemporal dementia (known as FTD), according to a statement from his family.
Bruce’s wife Emma, ex-wife Demi, and daughters Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel and Evelyn released a statement through the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration on Feb. 16.
“Since we announced Bruce’s diagnosis of aphasia in spring 2022, Bruce’s condition has progressed and we now have a more specific diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia (known as FTD). Unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces. While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis,” the statement read.
“FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone. For people under 60, FTD is the most common form of dementia, and because getting the diagnosis can take years, FTD is likely much more prevalent than we know,” the statement continued. “Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead. As Bruce’s condition advances, we hope that any media attention can be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research.”
Just last year, the “Die Hard” star’s family revealed he would be stepping away from acting following his aphasia diagnosis.
As the 67-year-old’s condition progressed, his family said he’d want to use his platform to raise awareness.
“We know in our hearts that — if he could today — he would want to respond by bringing global attention and a connectedness with those who are also dealing with this debilitating disease and how it impacts so many individuals and their families,” they said.
Before signing off, the family thanked everyone for their love and support during this time.
“We have been so moved by the love you have all shared for our dear husband, father, and friend during this difficult time. Your continued compassion, understanding, and respect will enable us to help Bruce live as full a life as possible.”
Willis’ first major film role was in 1987’s Blake Edwards-directed romantic comedy “Blind Date,” opposite Kim Basinger. His most recent theatrical film releases were 2019’s M. Night Shyamalan superhero thriller “Glass” and the Edward Norton-directed crime film “Motherless Brooklyn.” In recent years, Willis has mostly acted in direct-to-video action/thriller films, the most recent of which is the forthcoming “Assassin.”
Questions about Willis’ cognitive ability to participate in work were raised after the aphasia announcement, though as Los Angeles Times reported in March 2022, Willis’ performances were a concern on his movie sets even before. LA Times explains that at least one director wrote in an email about needing to feed Willis script lines via an earpiece, in addition to shortening the overall number of lines he had.
Many of Willis’ direct-to-video films, considered derogatorily in the genre of “Geezer Teasers,” were produced by independent film producer Randall Emmett, who faced public suspicion of exploiting Willis after Willis’ condition was announced.
Though it was reported that Emmett pushed Willis through production schedules he was not of sound mind to get through, Willis’ own attorney refuted the claims, telling LA Times: “My client continued working after his medical diagnosis because he wanted to work and was able to do so, just like many others diagnosed with aphasia who are capable of continuing to work.”
Throughout his long career, Willis has been nominated for several major entertainment awards. He received a Golden Globe in 1987 for his role in TV’s “Moonlighting,” for which he also received a Lead Actor Emmy Award. Willis’ second Emmy win came in 2000 for a guest appearance on the hit sitcom “Friends.”
After revelations about Willis’ declining health came to light, the tongue-in-cheek Razzie Awards — which “award” poor film performances — retracted its Worst Performance by Bruce Willis category, saying: “If someone’s medical condition is a factor in their decision making and/or their performance, we acknowledge that it is not appropriate to give them a Razzie.”