Emma Heming Willis has shared that “it’s hard to know” whether her husband, action star Bruce Willis, knows about his frontotemporal dementia diagnosis.
“Dementia is hard,” Heming Willis said on “Today” during the first television interview she has given since her husband’s diagnosis. “It is hard for the person diagnosed, it is also hard for the family. And it’s no different for Bruce, me or our girls. When they say it’s a family disease, it really is.”
Heming Willis went on to say the diagnosis was “a blessing and a curse,” adding that her family now has a better understanding of what Bruce Willis is going through. “It doesn’t make it any less painful, but … just knowing what’s happening to Bruce makes it a little easier,” she said.
The founder of wellness company Make Time Wellness, which focuses on women’s mental health, was joined by CEO of the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, Susan Dickinson. On Monday, the two called attention to World Frontotemporal Dementia Awareness Week on “Today.”
Dickinson explained that FTD differs from Alzheimer’s in several ways, primarily because it targets the language-processing areas of the brain rather than those involved in memory. She noted that it can affect “language, behavior, personality, and what we call leadership functions.”
In March last year, Bruce Willis’ family announced that he had been diagnosed with aphasia and was retiring from acting. In February of this year, they announced to the public that Willis had also been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia.
Before his official diagnosis, there were signs that something was wrong with the critically acclaimed and fan-favorite actor. Already in 2020, Willis allegedly fired a gun loaded with a cartridge on the wrong cue on the set of Hard Kill. No one was injured in the incident. Additionally, during the filming of Out of Death, director Mike Burns wrote an email stating that Willis’ dialogue needed to be shortened so that it no longer contained monologues. During his final years on set, actors’ lines were delivered to him using a catchy tune, which is not an uncommon practice for many actors.
Bruce Willis is currently in the care of his family.