M. Night Shyamalan says Bruce Willis will always be a 'hero' after family reveals his aphasia diagnosis
M. Night Shyamalan, who directed Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Glass, and a brief scene in Split, is one of many former collaborators coming out to salute him after his family made his aphasia diagnosis public this week.
"All my love and respect to my big brother Bruce Willis," Shyamalan tweeted. "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."
Willis' family released a statement Wednesday announcing that the star of films like Die Hard, Armageddon, and Pulp Fiction would be "stepping away" from acting after his recent diagnosis.
Aphasia, which is caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls language expression and comprehension, causes individuals to have difficulty communicating effectively with others. Willis' family statement noted that the actor's aphasia was "impacting his cognitive abilities."
Willis' Expendables costar Sylvester Stallone also wrote a tribute on Instagram that read, "We go back a long way, praying for the best for you and your wonderful family …"
Meanwhile, Kevin Smith gave a public apology to Willis over his past comments about their time working together on the 2010 movie Cop Out.
Smith had called the experience "f---ing soul-crushing" during an interview with Marc Maron on the comedian's podcast in 2011. He said at the time that Willis "wouldn't even sit for a f---ing poster shoot. Smith also wrote about the situation in his 2021 book, Kevin Smith's Secret Stash: The Definitive Visual History.
"Long before any of the Cop Out stuff, I was a big Bruce Willis fan — so this is really heartbreaking to read," Smith tweeted after learning about Willis' aphasia. "He loved to act and sing, and the loss of that has to be devastating for him. I feel like an asshole for my petty complaints from 2010. So sorry to BW and his family."
Willis' ex-wife Demi Moore offered her thoughts by sharing a family statement on Instagram. "This is a really challenging time for our family, and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion, and support. 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," the family added.
"Grace and guts! Love to you all!" Jamie Lee Curtis replied in the comments of Moore's post.
Sarah Paulson, who appeared opposite Willis is Glass, also replied in the comments, saying, "My heart goes out to Bruce, and all of the family. So thankful you shared this with us. Keeping you all in our prayers."
Wes Miller, who directed Willis in 2022's A Day to Die, extended condolences and well wishes to the actor's family. "One thing that should not be overlooked is that Bruce is a HERO," Miller wrote in a post on Instagram. "He loved acting. He loved the process. Instead of internet trolls continuing to ridicule a man who has a condition that he cannot control, they should take lessons from him. He could not control the disease, but he controlled what he could which is…how he responded on HIS OWN terms."
"He could've checked out, but he continued working because that's what he loved to do, and we should be lauding the hero that says I will fight this disease," he added. "I will continue to run my race until I absolutely can't."
Willis' Fortress and Survive the Game helmer James Cullen Bressack called him "a kind soul who brought magic and joy to the screen for those that watched him and those that worked with him."
"I'm blessed to have had the chance to work with him and send all the love in the world to him, his friends, and his family," Bressack wrote. "Much love Bdubs, A True Legend."
"Sending all love and prayers out [to] this legend," Frank Grillo, Willis' costar on the films A Day to Die and Reprisal, wrote on his Instagram Stories: "I've had the privilege of working w him many times and it was an honor. And for all you critics and other motherf---ers that talked s--- about him. Shame on you. There's a lesson here. Learn it. Be kind for we know not what a person is going through. #ILoveBruceWillis #IDontSmackIPunch."
Actor Dean Norris, who worked with Willis on Death Wish, also praised him, calling him "a lovely badass man."