The actor Bruce Willis will step away from his career after being diagnosed with aphasia, a cognitive disorder that affects a patient’s ability to communicate.
“This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support,” reads a statement shared on social media by Willis’s family members today (March 30).
Willis’s family said the 67-year-old star of Die Hard and The Sixth Sense made the decision “with much consideration.”
“As Bruce always says, ‘Live it up’ and together we plan to do just that,” they added.
Aphasia occurs when a part of the brain that controls language expression and comprehension is damaged, leaving patients unable to communicate effectively with others, according to Johns Hopkins University. Patients with aphasia may have trouble speaking in sentences or words that make sense, as well as understanding conversations with others.
The condition typically develops quickly after a stroke or brain injury, but can also come about more slowly if patients are dealing with a brain tumor or neurological disease.
Willis’s family said the aphasia diagnosis had been impacting his cognitive abilities, but didn’t specify the cause of his condition.
Though the actor is a well-known figure both in the US and abroad (for years he was the face of ads for Russia’s Trust Bank), much of his work over the past decade hasn’t been released in movie theaters. After starring in acclaimed theatrical releases including Moonrise Kingdom and Looper in 2012, Willis started taking on roles in direct-to-video films, often working with producer Randall Emmett.
Other high-profile figures who have struggled with aphasia include actress Emilia Clarke and former Arizona lawmaker Gabby Giffords. Last year Giffords spoke about turning to music to deal with the condition.