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Bruce Willis is Reported to Have Dementia, But is That True?

Ever wondered why Bruce Willis has recently appeared in nothing but direct-to-video shlock? It seems there might be an unfortunate reason for that…...
Credit: RLJE Films

Ever wondered why Bruce Willis has recently appeared in nothing but direct-to-video shlock? It seems there might be an unfortunate reason for that…

UPDATE: Bruce Willis has retired from acting due to his recent aphasia diagnosis that is affecting his brain health. 

I was watching the YouTube channel Red Letter Media, who review and critique films and tv both past and present, and they did a video about the “Bruce Willis Fake Movie Factory”. They essentially put forward the argument that Bruce Willis is just putting in minimum effort for a large portion of the film’s budget i.e. his motivations are entirely cynical.

They addressed the Hollywood rumour that Bruce Willis gets fed most of his lines through an earpiece and only works a few days onset for a whopping 80% of the film’s budget (roughly $1 – $2 million). RLM fans who work in the industry have seemingly rushed to confirm these rumours.

Those that have claimed that they have worked on a few of the Willis B-movies confirm that this cynical approach to filmmaking is accurate. Now these are YouTube comments so they aren’t the most reputable of sources but there have been several different comments reporting similar stories.

One user, Jakob, reported that he works in the Vancouver film industry and confirms from his co-workers who were on a few Bruce Willis films that, “… out of about 20 shoot days each Mr. Willis was on set for about three to four days. He comes in like an airstrike and basically he bangs out his scenes and the crew tries to shoot a movie around it. The crew is comprised of essentially non-union 20 somethings. Mr. Willis’ salary is indeed most of the budget.”

This is corroborated by user Joshua, who claims to have been the Key Set PA on Cosmic Sin (one of the Willis films featured in the video): “I can attest that you two [RLM hosts] are completely accurate of your description and mindset on to how these films are made…”

However, another (more eloquent) user, devin’s videos, made claims that he knew a few people who worked on Apex and confirms that “Bruce’s lines are being read to him through an earwig by the script supervisor, but unfortunately this is more due to dementia issues than laziness. The guy couldn’t remember his lines if he tried, and often has issues interpreting direction and the instructions given to him.”

Is Willis Sick or Just Lazy

Dementia? When did this happen? I started getting curious and found an article from the NZ Herald that reported Willis was battling memory loss. This article references the same RLM video, but the writer claims that the director of many of the films referenced, Matt Eskandari, was in the comments claiming that Willis does in fact have dementia. I looked for myself and couldn’t find these comments anywhere other than the few I have already cited.

So, is it true? The only other source to have reported on Willis’ condition is the gossip magazine OK! so not exactly a stellar source. OK! reported that an insider revealed, “he’s been waging a personal war for a number of years” but no formal diagnosis has been given.

That’s all we’ve got to go on. Whether or not that is true is honestly up for debate but over the years there have been many controversies with the actor. In 2015, Willis was spotted wearing an earpiece to feed him his lines during his Broadway debut of Misery.

Even before that, in 2013, Willis was under fire from those within Hollywood. Willis was dropped from the all star cast of The Expendables 3 by Sylvester Stallone who claimed that Willis was nothing but “greedy and lazy”.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Willis was dropped over money demands. Willis was offered $3 million for four days of work on location in Bulgaria. A source close to the production said, “He [Willis] said he’d drop out unless he got $4 million. A million dollars a day. Stallone and everybody else involved said no.”

Clerks creator, Kevin Smith said in his book Tough Shit (per Flavorwire) that Willis was “the unhappiest, most bitter, and meanest emo-b***h I’ve ever met at any job I’ve held down. And mind you, I’ve worked at Domino’s Pizza.”

Apparently when working on the 2010 film Cop Out, director Smith said that if it weren’t for Tracy Morgan, Smith suggest he “might’ve killed [himself] or someone else in the making of that movie.” Why? As Smith told the WTF podcast (per Daily Mail), “It was difficult. I’ve never been involved in a situation like that where one component is not in the box at all. It was f*****g soul crushing… I had no f*****g help from this dude whatsoever.”

The Verdict

Credit: Warner Bros.

Bruce Willis has been cynical about filmmaking for basically the entirety of the 2010’s and it seems like that’s just how he has been for a while. The dementia aspect doesn’t seem true but beware, this is all conjecture on my part, I don’t know Bruce Willis (shocking, I know).

There is a problem though, according to Global Deterioration Scale/Reisberg Scale, the timelines for Willis’ cognitive decline does seem to coincide with the decline of quality in his films.

Stage 2, which still considers the patient to not have dementia, is a very mild decline in cognitive abilities meaning that those in this stage may forget their name and misplace familiar objects. These symptoms are not usually evident to loved ones or even doctors. The expected duration of this stage is unknown but could be several years.

Stage 3, however, is mild cognitive decline, and the symptoms sound familiar: increased forgetfulness, slight difficulty concentrating, decreased work performance, and difficulty find the right words. This stage can last anywhere from two to seven years. The diagnosis is still not considered dementia.

Assuming Willis has dementia and isn’t just a nightmare to work with, it does sort of fit.

It is possible that Willis is suffering from dementia, but it also seems that he is using it as an excuse to get as much money as he can before he can no longer work. But does he really need the money? Who can say for sure?

Ultimately, we will never know what’s going on with Willis until a formal diagnosis and public statement have been made. If that’s disappointing to you, I’m sorry, but it would be irresponsible of me to make definite claims about Willis’ mental state when I don’t know the man and have never worked with him. 

For more entertainment news, check out why DC have said they don’t have to be like Marvel


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