What is Aphasia? Sylvester Stallone Says Bruce Willis is Going Through Tough Time

Die Hard actor Bruce Willis has had to put his career on pause after he was recently diagnosed with aphasia. Rumer Willis, Willis' daughter, says the condition has affected her father's cognitive abilities.

And now Rocky Sylvester Stallone says the action star has been having a tough time. "Bruce is going through some really, really difficult times," he told Hollywood Reporter. "So he's been sort of incommunicado. That kills me. It's so sad."

Stallone was one of the first to speak to Willis following the diagnosis.

Language Disorder

Aphasia is a language disorder which is caused by damage to a specific area of the brain that controls language expression and comprehension. The condition leaves the sufferer unable to communicate effectively with others.

Experts say aphasia is caused by damage to the language-dominant side of the brain, usually the left side. This condition is brought about by stroke, head injury, brain tumour, dementia or infection. It's unknown whether aphasia causes the complete loss of language structure or causes difficulties in how language is accessed and used.

Bruce Willis
Wikimedia Commons

Symptoms of aphasia vary from person to person. In expressive aphasia, the sufferer may remove the words "and" and "the" from their language, and speak in short sentences. Those having Wernicke (receptive) aphasia may speak in long confusing sentences, add unnecessary words, or create new words. People having this condition have difficulty understanding the speech of others. And with global aphasia, people have difficulties with speaking or comprehending language.

Speech therapy can often help people with aphasia recover some speech and language functions over time, but many people continue to have problems communicating.

Willis Had Symptoms of Aphasia

Those who worked with The Sixth Sense actor on his recent films say Willis had been exhibiting signs of decline in recent years. Reports highlight filmmakers describing heart wrenching scenes as the star grappled with his loss of mental activity and an inability to remember his dialogue. It's said that an actor would feed Willis his lines through an earpiece, known in the industry as an earwig. Directors have had to use a body double as a substitute for Willis in action scenes, particularly those that involved choreographed gunfire.

On the sets of Hard Kill two years ago in Cincinnati, Willis unexpectedly fired a gun loaded with a blank on the wrong cue. Thankfully, no one was injured. The severity of Willis condition came forth in June 2020 when he was directing his first film Out of Death. His colleagues and technicians make sure that his film shoots were limited to two days.