"A damn legend": Outpouring of love and admiration for Bruce Willis

The revelation of the actor's dementia diagnosis inspired many to share their support and memories of his work

Published February 17, 2023 7:38PM (EST)

Bruce Willis attends the Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis at Hollywood Palladium on July 14, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Rich Fury/Getty Images)
Bruce Willis attends the Comedy Central Roast of Bruce Willis at Hollywood Palladium on July 14, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Hollywood and Bruce Willis' many fans were left reeling after it was revealed Thursday that the "Die Hard" star was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). 

"Bruce has always found joy in life – and has helped everyone he knows to do the same. It has meant the world to see that sense of care echoed back to him and to all of us. We have been so moved by the love you have all shared for our dear husband, father, and friend during this difficult time," read a statement from his family.

Posted on The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration website, the statement by wife Emma Heming Willis, his ex-wife Demi Moore, and his daughters Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel and Evelyn also thanked everyone for "the outpouring of love and compassion for Bruce over the past 10 months."

As of now, there are no treatment options for FTD, a disorder involving the progressive degeneration of the frontal and temporal lobes, which may affect language, emotions and behavior. Willis' dementia disclosure comes after the announcement last March that he would be "stepping back" from his acting career after he was diagnosed with aphasia

"Bruce always believed in using his voice in the world to help others, and to raise awareness about important issues both publicly and privately," the statement continued. "We know in our hearts that — if he could today — he would want to respond by bringing global attention and a connectedness with those who are also dealing with this debilitating disease and how it impacts so many individuals and their families."

Demi Moore and Rumer Willis also reiterated the message on their respective Instagram accounts

Most of Hollywood, such as Willis' "The Story of Us" costar Michelle Pfeiffer, commented on those posts with sentiments such as "Sending love." This was similarly echoed by performers such as Selma Blair, Wilmer Valderrama, Sophia Bush, Paris Hilton, Demi Lovato and more. 

"Breaking Bad" actor Aaron Paul added to Rumer Willis' post, "Love you so much my friend! Sending hugs to you and that beautiful family of yours. Your pops is such a damn legend."

Meanwhile, Treat Williams – who starred in the 1981 film "Prince of the City" that Willis was an uncredited extra in at the beginning of his career, tweeted, "I ran into Bruce Willis years ago after not seeing him for [a while]. We went and played paintball in Malibu and [then] spent an afternoon on the beach in Malibu. That was our last time together and I am grateful."

Carl Weathers tweeted a tribute to Willis as well, one veteran action star star to another: "Yours truly sends love and positivity to Bruce and his family. His talent has been enjoyed 'round the world'! DIE HARD; SIXTH SENSE; PULP FICTION! Love his work."

"Supernatural" actor Jim Beaver, who also shared the screen with Willis, posted his reaction to the news. 

"The news of Bruce Willis's diagnosis of dementia is sad. I got my first real break as an actor playing his buddy Earl in IN COUNTRY, Norman Jewison's moving drama about Vietnam veterans, and it was a transformative experience for me," Beaver tweeted, adding, "I send him and his family love."

Maria Shriver addressed the FTD diagnosis. "My heart goes out to Bruce Willis and his family, & also my gratitude for shining a much needed light on this disease. When people step forward it helps all of us. When people get a diagnosis it's extremely difficult, but also for most a relief to get a diagnosis," Shriver tweeted

CNN's Jake Tapper tweeted his support for and shared his own family's experience with the disease. 

"Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia, his family says. FTD is a profoundly cruel disease, my beloved father-in-law Tom suffered from it for years before he died. Sending all my love and prayers to their family," Tapper wrote. 

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

Joe Russo, screenwriter for Willis' 2020 film "Hard Kill," also posted his admiration for the actor. 

"Thinking of Bruce Willis and his family today. The movie went in a very different direction from the screenplay we sold, but I'm still very proud of the fact I share a credit with one of the greatest on-screen actors of all time," Russo tweeted alongside a photo of Willis from behind the camera. 

Alan Zweibel, writer for Willis movies "The Story of Us" and "North," joined in on the love.

"I wrote two movies Bruce Willis appeared in. Sure,he's uniquely funny, but what got me is his family devotion & sincere generosity. My heart goes out to him & his family on his Frontotemporal Dementia diagnosis.The only consolation-they will shine a light on this cruel disease," Zweibel tweeted.

tweet from "Guardians of the Galaxy" actor Alexis Rodney, who posted a clip from "Pulp Fiction" featuring Willis, summarized the overall sentiments.

"So many of us have been entertained over the years by Bruce Willis. I watched this scene on a loop as a kid. I'm sure you're with me in sending prayers of good wishes to him and his family. A true Hollywood legend," Rodney said. 

"Feeling emotionally tired and a bit overwhelmed, yet in awe of the love so many people have for my papa," Scout Willis posted on her Instagram story, which was later shared by her sisters Tallulah and Rumer. 

By Lily Doton

Lily Doton is an intern at Salon and will graduate from Castleton University in May. Though her true love is K-Pop, she is studying Media and Communication with a concentration in journalism and a minor in film studies. She is passionate about telling stories and seeking out Asian representation, whether that's in movies, shows, music or writing.

MORE FROM Lily Doton

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aggregate Bruce Willis Dementia Demi Moore Frontotemporal Dementia Rumer Willis