M. Night Shyamalan sends love to ‘big brother’ Bruce Willis after aphasia diagnosis

Two men talk while seated at a wood bar
Actor Bruce Willis, left, and director M. Night Shyamalan on the set of “Glass.”
(Jessica Kourkounis / Universal Pictures)

M. Night Shyamalan, who directed Bruce Willis in “The Sixth Sense” and the “Unbreakable” trilogy, penned a heartfelt message to the actor following his aphasia diagnosis.

The filmmaker was among several entertainment figures who wished Willis well after the Emmy winner’s family announced Wednesday that he is “stepping away” from acting because of the neurological condition, which impairs a person’s ability to speak and understand others.

In Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense,” Willis gave one of his most acclaimed performances as child psychologist Malcolm Crowe, tasked with helping a distraught little boy who can “see dead people.” He later reunited with the director on the psychological thriller “Unbreakable” and its two sequels, “Split” and “Glass.”


“All my love and respect to my big brother Bruce Willis,” Shyamalan tweeted 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.”

Among the first to react to Willis’ diagnosis was comedian Ziwe Fumudoh, who hailed the veteran performer as a “brilliant actor” and insisted “we don’t spend enough time discussing his comedic genius in” the 1992 satire “Death Becomes Her.”

Another comedy luminary, Rachel Dratch, recalled meeting Willis — the first celebrity she ever encountered in real life, she said — in the 1990s while performing with the Second City improv troupe in Sun Valley, Idaho.

“I wanted to send some love to #BruceWillis,” Dratch tweeted. “Imagine our delight when we found out he was in the audience! He came backstage and couldn’t have been sweeter to us wannabes.”

Actor Dean Norris, who worked with Willis on the 2018 action thriller “Death Wish,” commended his former castmate as a “lovely awesome badass man.”

A number of Willis’ Hollywood peers — including Julianne Moore, Debi Mazar, Elizabeth Perkins, Cindy Crawford, Rita Wilson, Lucy Liu, Melanie Griffith and Jamie Lee Curtis — also commented words and emojis of support on actor Demi Moore’s latest Instagram post about her ex-husband.

Moore, who shares three children with Willis, posted a statement from her family Wednesday thanking fans for their “continued love, compassion and support” during this “really challenging time.”

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

“With much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him,” the statement reads.

“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. As Bruce always says, ‘Live it up’ and together we plan to do just that.”

See more responses to Willis’ health update below.