Film insiders reveal signs of Bruce Willis’ tragic decline following aphasia diagnosis

Bruce Willis alarmed a film crew two years ago when he misfired a gun loaded with a blank – and last year caused confusion by asking what he was doing on a film set.

Now we know why – the 67-year-old actor has been diagnosed with aphasia, a brain disorder that causes cognitive difficulties, reports the New York Post.

The actor has been showing signs of decline in recent years, as he struggled to remember his lines and was often fed his words through an earpiece known as an “earwig”, sources told the Los Angeles Times.

In most of his action scenes, especially those involving prop guns, a body double was used. Willis allegedly misfired a gun on the set of Hard Kill in Cincinnati two years ago. While no one was hurt, actors and crew members were alarmed by the discharge of the firearm.

Claims of gun incidents on set

Willis was supposed to deliver a line that served as a cue for another actor to duck before he fired a prop gun on set – but fired it without saying the line, reports say.

Actress Lala Kent told the outlet, “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 told the paper.

But the same thing happened on the next take, despite her reminding director Matt Eskandari to remind Willis of the line.

Another crew member told the paper, “We always made sure no one was in the line of fire when he [Willis] was handling guns.

The film’s armourer denied that the incident had occurred, while a producer who has worked on 20 Willis films also disputed that he fired a gun prematurely.

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"I could see it first-hand"

Mike Burns, who directed Willis in action thriller Out of Death, sent the film’s screenwriter an email in June 2020 reading, “It looks like we need to knock down Bruce’s page count by about five pages.

“We also need to abbreviate his dialogue a bit so that there are no monologues, etc.,”

Burns said he had been unaware of Willis’ condition until he showed up on set.

“After the first day of working with Bruce, I could see it first-hand and I realised that there was a bigger issue at stake here and why I had been asked to shorten his lines,” Burns told the LA Times.

He cut all of Willis’ scenes into a single-day shoot – and eventually decided not to do any more movies with the actor after his experience on the set of Wrong Place last year.

Ahead of filming, Willis was said to be doing “way better than last year” – but Burns quickly realised he “was worse”.

“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.”

Another episode occurred on the set of the film White Elephant, where crew members reported Willis asking, “I know why you’re here, and I know why you’re here, but why am I here?”

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

Stunt double: "He seemed sidetracked"

Willis’ longtime stunt double Stuart Wilson told The Sun he had noticed changes in the actor.

“We had seen some changes, but a lot of times with bigger celebrities that are really, really popular like, like Bruce, they have a million different things going on,” Wilson said.

“Sometimes when you were talking to him, he just seemed sidetracked and we would think it would mean nothing but you would wonder if there are other things going on,” said the stuntman, who worked with Willis for 17 years.

“Obviously we knew there was other stuff going on at a certain point in time. We realised because he’s getting tested for different things, but at the time we didn’t know exactly what it was,” Wilson added.

He also noticed Willis was eating less and had become a “little leaner than normal”.

Wilson noted that using an earpiece to be fed lines isn’t that unusual for an actor.

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