Nine months after Bruce Willis’s shock announcement that he was “stepping away” from his acting career due to illness, the Hollywood star has appeared in a rare family photo surrounded by his beloved family.
In an Instagram photo shared by his ex-wife, Demi Moore, Willis delivers one of his classic smiles as he stands with their three daughters – Tallulah, 28, Scout, 31, and Rumer, 34.
Also in the pic are Willis’s wife Emma Heming Willis and their two daughters, Evelyn Penn, 8, and Mabel Ray, 10,
“We are family. Getting into the holiday spirit,” Moore wrote.
It is a rare public sighting of the 67-year-old acting legend. Back in March, his extended family released a statement revealing the Die Hard franchise star was retiring, effective immediately, after being diagnosed with aphasia, a progressive disease that is “impacting his cognitive abilities”.
“This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support,” they wrote.
“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.”
Last week, pop culture website, RadarOnline, revealed the close knit family was continuing to rally around Willis as his health deteriorated. He and Moore are known to still be close, despite divorcing in 2000.
“They know he won’t be around forever,” a family insider told the outlet.
“So they’re cherishing every single moment.”
“Bruce can’t say much, and it doesn’t seem like he’s grasping much of what others say,” the insider continued.
“So Emma’s really been the voice and communicator for him.”
In November, close friend and former Planet Hollywood partner Sylvester Stallone also gave an update to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Bruce is going through some really, really difficult times. So he’s been sort of incommunicado,” he said.
“That kills me. It’s so sad.”
Experts in aphasia say the conditions affect’s a person’s ability to speak, write and understand language – both verbal and written. Speech and language therapy are its main treatment options.
According to the Mayo Clinic, aphasia can occur after strokes or head injuries. It can also arise over time due to brain tumours or degenerative diseases.
And, family plays a key role in learning how to live with the disease.
By all accounts, Willis’s blended family is doing just that.
In family photos – reportedly from a gathering earlier in December ahead of the holiday season – both Tallulah and Scout shared candid photos with their father.
Tallulah’s dog Pilaf plays a starring role, as does Scout, who shared red carpet movie premiere memories from when they were little girls.
Willis’s wife, Emma, seen in one dinner table photo holding his hand, had earlier posted her own musical montage of Willis playing with Evelyn and Mabel in the backyard, going for bush walks, watching TV, holding his children tight, and kissing his wife.
“Your girls are beautiful. All the love and fun is so sweet to see.
“Your husband is loved by many strangers all over. His talent has brought laughter and excitement to so many. But, he is still a regular person…your husband and father to your sweet girls,” wrote one fan.
Willis got noticed in Hollywood in 1985 with the heartwarming TV series Moonlightingalso starring Cybill Shepherd.
Before long, his genius shone through playing NYPD John McClane in the first of the Die Hard franchise movies (where he reportedly suffered two-thirds partial hearing loss in his left ear after an on-set accident).
He continued battling terrorists and genuine bad guys, but his one-line quips such as “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf—er” in the 1988 Die Hard movie (which is still borrowed in scripts to this day), immortalised his place in the fast-paced action thriller genre.
His endurance in movie-making continued for 40 years, delivering classics such as The Sixth Sense, Pulp Fiction, The Last Boy Scout and The Fifth Element.
His body of work continued with The Expendables and Red.
He won one Golden Globe Award and two Emmys.
Last year alone, Willis appeared in eight films, and American Siege, Gasoline Alley, A Day To Die and Fortress: Sniper’s Eye were released by April.
He has a further eight films with a date stamp of 2022, according to IMDb.
While Willis’s health and career end came as a surprise to most, not everyone in the industry was unaware of his struggles.
The Los Angeles Times wrote in March directors had been concerned about his “cognitive state in recent years”.
“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,” White Elephant production supervisor Terri Martin told the Times.