Bruce Willis was seen drinking coffee with friends in Santa Monica this week, the veteran action star’s first time being seen in public after revealing his frontotemporal dementia diagnosis.
The ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Armageddon’ star, 67, retired from acting last year due to cognitive problems. In February, his family announced that his condition had deteriorated.
“Since we announced Bruce’s diagnosis of aphasia in the spring of 2022, Bruce’s condition has progressed and we now have a more specific diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia (known as FTD),” said the Feb. 16 statement, signed by wife Emma. Heming Willis, ex-wife Demi Moore and daughters Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, Mabel and Evelyn. The family called it a “cruel disease.”
“Unfortunately, communication difficulties are just one symptom of the illness Bruce faces,” the statement continued. “While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis.”
When Willis was seen with two friends on Thursday, he was wearing a blue sweater, black sweatpants and a hat, according to photos and video received by the Daily Mail. The two-time Emmy Award winner was also spotted with friends in Los Angeles for lunch in late January, according to the British tabloid.
An estimated 50,000 people live in the United States frontotemporal dementiaaccording to experts, and it usually strikes between the ages of 45 and 64. The progressive brain disease affects the frontal and/or anterior temporal lobes of the brain, lobes that have a wide variety of responsibilities, including controlling voluntary movements, expressive language, management of higher-level executive functions, and semantic memory processing.
The condition first manifests itself in two ways, depending on the specific part of the brain where the disease begins: with major changes in the person’s behavior or language skills. Sufferers may suddenly and unusually become uninhibited and say and do things that seem inappropriate or impulsive to those around them.
And the prognosis is bleak. There is currently no cure and no way to prevent its onset, according to the Assn. of frontotemporal degeneration. The average life expectancy is seven to thirteen years after the onset of symptoms.
Prior to Willis’s new diagnosis and before his abrupt retirement, Hollywood had been rumored about his job performance for years. Nearly two dozen people who had been on set with the “Moonlighting” star expressed concern to Times reporters Meg James and Amy Kaufman.
They questioned whether Willis – who was often paid $2 million for two days’ work – was fully aware of his surroundings on set, according to documents reviewed by The Times.
Filmmakers described the star of “Pulp Fiction” and “The Sixth Sense” as struggling with his loss of mental acuity and an inability to remember dialogue.
Times staff writers Christie D’Zurilla and Corinne Purtill contributed to this report.