Published On: Fri, Feb 17th, 2023

Bruce Willis asked ‘why am I here?’ on set of one of his last movies | Films | Entertainment

This week Bruce Willis’ wife Emma Heming Willis released a statement announcing that the 67-year-old star’s aphasia condition has progressed and he has now been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. For the last few years before his retirement, the action star churned out a string of direct-to-video movies, some of which see him only cameo in a few scenes. Sadly tell-tale signs of his health battles were prevalent on set.

Following the actor’s aphasia diagnosis being made public, the director of 2021 movie White Elephant spoke out. Jesse V Johnson told the LA Times: “It was clear that he was not the Bruce I remembered [from being a stuntman years ago]”.

As a result, it was requested that his scenes be finished by lunchtime so he could be let go early. Tragically, the action star would ask crew members: “I know why you’re here, and I know why you’re here, but why am I here?” One crew member recalled: “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.”

The director was offered two more movies with the star, but said: “After our experience on White Elephant, it was decided as a team that we would not do another. We are all Bruce Willis fans, and the arrangement felt wrong and ultimately a rather sad end to an incredible career, one that none of us felt comfortable with.”

Meanwhile, on 2020’s Hard Kill, Willis reportedly misfired a blank-loaded gun twice, according to at least two people.

The star’s longtime assistant Stephen J Eads was paid up to $200,000 a movie to watch over him on set. And actor Adam Huel Potter made $4,150 a week to feed Willis his lines through an earpiece on the movie Open Source.

On 2021’s Out of Death, his airtime was cut and he wasn’t allowed any monologues and by 2022’s Wrong Place, the star was “getting worse”. Director Mike Burns said afterwards: “I’m done. I’m not going to do any other Bruce Willis movies.’ I am relieved that he is taking time off.”

Nevertheless, on one of his final movies, Paradise City with John Travolta, the director said he “brought his A game”.

White Elephant’s production supervisor Terri Martin told the LA Times: “He just looked so lost, and he would say, ‘I’ll do my best.’ He always tried his best. He is one of the all-time greats, and I have the utmost admiration and respect for his body of work, but it was time for him to retire.”

Willis has at least one more movie to release called Assassin, which is released in select US theatres and VOD on March 31, 2023.


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