Bruce Willis is a Hollywood legend. His family’s announcement that the “Die Hard” actor would be stepping back from acting as he battled aphasia, a cognitive condition that affects your ability to speak, was met with concern and sympathy from fans. Now some of Willis’s former co-workers are coming forward to say they’re not surprised at this turn of events.
Directors, including Mike Burns (“Out of Death”) and Jesse V. Johnson (“White Elephant”), said they noticed Willis wasn’t his usual self during recent projects. They said his lines had to be shortened and monologues eliminated because he couldn’t remember what he was supposed to say. Sources claimed the “Pulp Fiction” star had to wear an “earwig” device which would allow his lines to be delivered to him rather than memorized.
Burns said he told the screenwriter that Willis’s’ part in “Out of Death” would need to be cut “by about 5 pages,” The Los Angeles Times reported.
“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 told the publication.
Burns said the incident made him hesitant to work with Willis in the future, but he did decide to sign on to direct “Wrong Place,” despite being “concerned” about the actor’s health. The director said he was told Willis was “a whole different person,” and recalls how he noticed a decline when filming began in October 2021.
“I didn’t think he was better; I thought he was worse,” Burns recalled. “After we finished, I said: ‘I’m done. I’m not going to do any other Bruce Willis movies.’ I am relieved that he is taking time off.”
The Times apparently spoke with two dozen industry professionals who noticed long ago that something was off with Willis.
Two insiders allege that on the set of “Hard Kill,” Willis fired a gun that was loaded with a blank before reading the line that would have alerted his co-star what was happening.
“I’m supposed to think my life is about to end, and then my dad steps in to save the day,” co-star Lala Kent told the Times, describing how her back was facing Willis in the scene. The actor was supposed to deliver a line that served as Kent’s cue to duck before he fired the gun. Instead, he shot the gun before delivering the line, so Kent never ducked.
“Because my back was to him, I wasn’t aware of what was happening behind me. But the first time, it was like, ‘No big deal, let’s reset,’” Kent recalled. She said she asked director Matt Eskandari to remind Willis to say the line first before firing the gun.
Crew members say the same thing happened a second time. Sources allege Kent was “shaken” and a crew member affirmed that Willis “did fire the gun on the wrong line.”
“We always made sure no one was in the line of fire when he was handling guns,” one “Hard Kill” alum said. Meanwhile, the film’s armorer said the incident never happened.
The actor’s family announced Willis was retiring from acting in a statement Wednesday.
“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 said. It was signed by his wife, Emma, ex-wife Demi Moore, and daughters Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel, and Evelyn.
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