Die Hard franchise star Bruce Willis will retire from his acting career after being diagnosed with aphasia, a disease that is “impacting his cognitive abilities,” his family says in a statement.
Willis, 67, who achieved initial fame for the 1980s comedy-drama TV series Moonlighting before he became the tough guy, action hero who shouted “Yippee Ki Yay” in five Die Hard films, has appeared in about 100 movies across his four decade career, winning acclaim for roles in Pulp Fiction and The Sixth Sense.
Willis has won one Golden Globe Award and two Emmys.
“This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support,” the family statement said.
“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,” the statement said.
Aphasia is a condition affecting an individual’s ability to speak and effectively communicate with others, including to speak and write.
It can occur after strokes or head injuries but can also arise over time due to brain tumours or degenerative diseases, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Fans shared sadness, shock and tributes to Willis on social media as news of his diagnosis broke.
One tweeted, “My heart goes out to #BruceWillis and his family. His work has meant more to me than I could ever put into words…If this is in fact the end of your acting career, all I can say is thank you. We love you Bruce.”
Another wrote, “Respect to a good actor and legendary recording artist, been a hell of a career.”