Bruce Willis’ family thanks fans for outflow of support since revealing aphasia diagnosis

A smiling man stands with a woman, their arms linked, on a red carpet.
Bruce Willis and Emma Heming Willis attend the “Motherless Brooklyn” premiere in New York in 2019.
(Charles Sykes / Invision/Associated Press)

Bruce Willis’ family members have been moved by the outpouring of support they’ve received since announcing the action star’s decision to step away from acting because of his declining health.

Earlier this week, the 67-year-old’s family revealed that “The Sixth Sense” and “Die Hard” star was diagnosed with aphasia, a cognitive disorder that impairs his ability to communicate, and would be “stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him.”

Willis’ wife, model Emma Heming, who signed off on the social media statement along with his ex-wife, Demi Moore, and their blended family, took to Instagram on Thursday to show her gratitude.


In interviews with The Times this month, nearly two dozen people who were on set with the actor expressed concern about Willis’ well-being.

“Your love, support, compassion, prayers really help. I’m grateful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Heming, 43, wrote on her Instagram story.

Willis and Heming wed in 2009 and they have welcomed two daughters since. The actor shares three older daughters with actor Moore: Rumer, 33; Scout, 30; and Tallulah, 28.

Heming, Moore and Rumer Willis, who starred in TV’s “Empire” and the film “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood,” posted the announcement Wednesday on their own Instagram accounts.

Two women pose on a red carpet
Rumer Willis, left, and Scout Willis arrive at Variety’s Power of Young Hollywood at the Sunset Tower Hotel in Los Angeles in 2018.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision / Associated Press)

The next day, her sister Scout shared two photos of Willis: one in which she’s cuddling with her dad in an armchair and another that showed him flexing (while showing off his tattoo).

“Papa,” she wrote, captioning the images on Instagram. She described Wednesday as “so surreal” after sharing “something so personal.”

“I didn’t know how it would be received, there is always an unknown when sharing out so vulnerably into the world. I’d hoped for some love and compassion, I truly NEVER could have anticipated the depth and breadth of the love we received as a family yesterday,” she wrote.

“It kept hitting me yesterday how much love, energy and prayers were now being sent to my daddio and just humbling me in a way that’s brings tears as I write this,” she continued. “I am so grateful for your love, I’m so grateful to hear about what my papa means to you. Thank you so much to everyone who reached out to me yesterday, I love and I appreciate you with all my heart.”

Bruce Willis is the latest entertainment luminary to go public with an aphasia diagnosis. Others include Emilia Clarke and Sharon Stone.

The Times reported Wednesday that Willis’ health issues have long been a concern for many who worked with him in recent years, with some questioning if the “Pulp Fiction” actor was fully aware of his surroundings on set. Some described heart-wrenching scenes as the star grappled with his loss of mental acuity and an inability to remember his dialogue, according to The Times’ report.

Filmmaker Kevin Smith, who worked with Willis on the 2010 buddy comedy “Cop Out,” has since walked back “petty complaints” he made about the actor shortly after the film was released. Meanwhile, “The Sixth Sense” and the “Unbreakable” trilogy director M. Night Shyamalan was among the many who showed love for Willis on social media following the family’s announcement.

“All my love and respect to my big brother Bruce Willis,” Shyamalan wrote Wednesday. “I know his wonderful family is surrounding him with support and strength. He will always be that hero on that poster on my wall as a kid.”

The aphasia community hopes Bruce Willis’ diagnosis will help reduce the stigma of invisible illnesses and lead to better understanding of a condition that affects about 2 million Americans.

Willis’ “Sixth Sense” co-star Haley Joel Osment, 33, also spoke fondly of the veteran actor on Thursday and wrote a sweet tribute to him.

“It’s been difficult to find the right words for someone I’ve always looked up to — first on the big screen, and then by some wild stroke of luck, in person,” the former child actor wrote.

“He’s a true legend who has enriched all of our lives with a singular career that spans nearly half a century. I am so grateful for what I got to witness firsthand, and for the enormous body of work he built for us to enjoy for years and years to come,” Osment continued.

“I just wanted to express the respect and deep admiration I have for Bruce and his family as they move forward with the courage and high spirits that have always defined them.”