Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with aphasia, and in a statement given by his family, he’s stepping away from acting. Nevertheless, he’s not the only celebrity who has dealt with aphasia.
Bruce Willis, the actor known for his roles in Die Hard (1988), Pulp Fiction (1994), The Fifth Element (1997), The Sixth Sense (1999), The Expendables (2010) and many others. He recently stepped away from acting, according to a joint statement given by his family.
A few crewmembers of his latest films have said that they could see how the aphasia diagnosis was affecting him, claiming that he had difficulty memorizing lines and even remembering why he was on set.
Another aspect of his career that hasn’t been as widely talked about is his singing, and being in multiple stage productions, making a Broadway debut in 2015 with a revival of Misery.
According to The Guardian, there are eight completed films with Willis in it that are set to release in 2022 and 2023.
What is aphasia?
Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language, according to the United States’ National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. For most people, the damaged areas are on the left side of the bran, and generally follows a stroke or head injury, but it may also develop slowly, as the result of a brain tumor or a progressive neurological disease.
According to Brooke Lang, a speech pathologist, said in an interview with Insider, that it’s possible that the actor may be experiencing primary progressive aphasia, a neurodegenerative condition that can affect language and cognition. This because the family did not mention a stroke or brain injury as a precursor to Willis’ diagnosis.
Other celebrities that have been diagnosed with aphasia
The actress, mostly known for her role in Game of Thrones, had an aneurysm while working out with her trainer shortly after she finished filming the first season of the tv show.
She told her story in a 2019 essay published by The New Yorker. She had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a life-threatening type of stroke caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain.
After having surgery to seal off the aneurysm, Clarke realized her language was impaired.
“One night, after I’d passed that crucial mark, a nurse woke me and, as part of a series of cognitive exercises, she said, ‘What’s your name?’ My full name is Emilia Isobel Euphemia Rose Clarke. But now I couldn’t remember it,” the actress wrote. “Instead, nonsense words tumbled out of my mouth and I went into a blind panic. I’d never experienced fear like that — a sense of doom closing in. I could see my life ahead, and it wasn’t worth living. I am an actor; I need to remember my lines. Now I couldn’t recall my name.”
She returned to the intensive care unit, and the aphasia passed after about a week.
“I was able to speak,” she wrote. “I knew my name — all five bits. But I was also aware that there were people in the beds around me who didn’t make it out of the I.C.U. I was continually reminded of just how fortunate I was.”
Later, the actress launched SameYou, a charity focused on helping survivors of stroke and brain injury.
The “Basic Instint” actress suffered a stroke in 2011 with a cerebral hemorrhage that lasted nine days, which impaired Stone’s ability to walk and speak. She was able to recover from her aphasia and regain her ability to speak and read clearly.
“It took two years for my body just to absorb all the internal bleeding I had,” Stone told Harper’s Bazaar in 2015. “It almost feels like my entire DNA changed. My brain isn’t sitting where it used to, my body type changed, and even my food allergies are different.”
“I became more emotionally intelligent,” Stone continued. “I chose to work very hard to open up other parts of my mind. Now I’m stronger. And I can be abrasively direct. That scares people, but I think that’s not my problem. It’s like, I have brain damage; you’ll just have to deal with it.”
Randy Travis is a country music star that rarely performs but is making strides to regain his speech after a life-threatening stroke temporarily took away his ability to speak clearly and walk without the use of a cane.
“The memory is as sharp as it ever was,” his wife, Mary Davis Travis, told People in 2017. “Everything’s up there, it’s just the aphasia [loss of speech] and getting it out that’s the frustrating part.”
In his 2019 memoir, “Forever and Ever, Amen: A Memoir of Music, Faith, and Braving the Storms of Life,” Travis opened up about his stroke and subsequent aphasia.
In 2016, Travis and his wife performed “Amazing Grace” at the Country Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Researchers have reported that those struggling with severe aphasia may find it easier to sing lyrics than speak the same words.
In 2021, Travis released his first song since his stroke in collaboration with Drew Parker, titled “There’s a New Kid in Town.”
Known for his annual New Year’s Eve countdown celebration, Clark continued to host the event for years even after having a stroke in December 2004. The stroke left Dick Clark paralyzed on one side of his body and his speech impaired, but he returned to host “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” in 2005.
“Last year I had a stroke,” he said on the broadcast, People reported. “It left me in bad shape. I had to teach myself how to walk and talk again. It’s been a long, hard fight. My speech is not perfect but I’m getting there.”
He died in 2012 after a heart attack.
Campbell lost his ability to speak during the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, his wife of 35 years, Kim Campbell, said a few months before his death in 2017.
“He has complete aphasia; he doesn’t understand language and he can’t communicate verbally,” Kim told “Access Hollywood Live,” the Toronto Sun reported. “But he understands the universal language of love and smiles and kisses and hugs.” She added, “And he enjoys dessert.”
Campbell received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2011 and continued touring until 2014, at which point he was placed in a long-term care facility close to his home in Nashville, Tennessee.