Bruce Willis’ Daughter Knew ‘Something Was Wrong for a Long Time’, Describes ‘Vague Unresponsiveness’

The actor was diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia but still has mobility, according to his daughter

bruce willis
Bruce Willis (Credit: Getty Images)

Before Bruce Willis was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, his daughter Tallulah knew something was wrong. In a wide-spanning feature for Vogue, Tallulah Willis opened up about what it’s been like dealing with her father’s declining health and her own complicated history with mental health and eating disorders.

“I’ve known that something was wrong for a long time. It started out with a kind of vague unresponsiveness, which the family chalked up to Hollywood hearing loss: ‘Speak up! “Die Hard” messed with Dad’s ears,’” Willis said. “Later that unresponsiveness broadened, and I sometimes took it personally.”

In March 2022, Bruce Willis’ family announced the A-list action star would be retiring following his  aphasia diagnosis. Typically caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls language and comprehension, aphasia is often caused by either a stroke or head trauma. A year later, the actor’s family came forward again to announce he had also be diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia.

Though the public became aware of Bruce’s condition in 2022, Tallulah recalled being aware of it earlier than that. During a wedding that took place summer 2021, she stepped away from the dinner table to cry following a speech given by the father of the bride. “Suddenly I realized that I would never get that moment, my dad speaking about me in adulthood at my wedding,” she told Vogue.

Opening up about her struggle with disordered eating, Willis said that she “remained focused on my body” as her father’s health declined. She also admitted that she sometimes wonders what her father would have done if he was “his full self” when she was at the height of her disorder. “I’d like to think that he wouldn’t have let it happen,” she said.

Tallulah did offer a silver line to her father’s health: the disease hasn’t affected Bruce’s mobility. The Hollywood icon also still recognizes her and “lights up” when he sees her. Due to the differences between Alzeimer’s dementia and frontotemporal dementia, there is a chance he may always recognize his loved ones.

Tallulah isn’t the only member of the Willis family who has publicly spoken out about Bruce’s condition. In an Instagram post from May, wife Emma Heming Willis revealed that Wave Life Sciences ended its clinical trial. “Where I’m not sure it could have helped us over here, it doesn’t really matter, it still feels like a gut punch,” she wrote. “Our family will continue to keep the faith and never lose hope.”