Bruce Willis’ daughter Tallulah reveals heartbreaking new details about his aphasia

Bruce Willis’ daughter Tallulah has candidly laid bare gut-wrenching new details about the actor’s ongoing battle with the degenerative brain condition aphasia – revealing in searing detail how she knew ‘a long time ago’ that something was wrong with her father, but that she assumed he had simply ‘lost interest in her’ after the birth of his children with his second wife. 

In a personal essay penned for Vogue, Tallulah, 29, recalled witnessing her father’s steady mental decline, admitting that she and her family initially blamed the 68-year-old’s ‘unresponsiveness’ on his ‘Hollywood hearing loss’. 

However, as it grew more severe, she admits that she began to ‘take it personally’, writing: ‘Later that unresponsiveness broadened, and I sometimes took it personally. He had had two babies with my stepmother, Emma Heming Willis, and I thought he’d lost interest in me. 

‘Though this couldn’t have been further from the truth, my adolescent brain tortured itself with some faulty math: I’m not beautiful enough for my mother, I’m not interesting enough for my father.’

Bruce Willis’ daughter Tallulah has revealed heartbreaking new details about the actor’s bitter struggle with degenerative brain condition aphasia

The actress, 29, said the family knew something was wrong with the actor, but that they 'chalked his unresponsiveness up' to 'Hollywood hearing loss'

The actress, 29, said the family knew something was wrong with the actor, but that they ‘chalked his unresponsiveness up’ to ‘Hollywood hearing loss’

Bruce’s devastating diagnosis was revealed to the world in early 2022, with his family – including his ex-wife Demi Moore, their children, and his current wife Emma – issuing a joint statement on behalf of the actor, while sharing details about his condition. 

In an Instagram post shared across their accounts, the women wrote that the Hollywood icon ‘had been experiencing some health issues and had recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities’. 

‘As a result of this and with much consideration Bruce is stepping away from the career that has meant so much to him,’ the statement continued. ‘This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support.’

However, while the news of Bruce’s condition was not shared publicly until March 2022, Tallulah says that he had been ‘quietly struggling’ with his health for some time before that – during which time she was herself battling anorexia, a condition that she admits left her in a state of ‘avoidance and denial’ about her father’s own issues. 

‘While I was wrapped up in my body dysmorphia, flaunting it on Instagram, my dad was quietly struggling,’ she recalled. ‘All kinds of cognitive testing was being conducted, but we didn’t have an acronym yet.’

However, in the summer of 2021, Tallulah says she had a painful awakening to the true severity of Bruce’s condition while attending a wedding on Martha’s Vineyard – admitting that she broke down in tears during the father of the bride’s speech because she realized that she would likely never get to share that same moment with her own dad. 

‘Suddenly I realized that I would never get that moment, my dad speaking about me in adulthood at my wedding,’ she said. ‘It was devastating. I left the dinner table, stepped outside, and wept in the bushes.’

Now, Tallulah says she is focused on savoring as many memories with her father as possible, revealing that she ‘takes a ton of photos’ whenever she visits his home – while ensuring that she saves ‘every voicemail from him on a hard drive’. 

As Bruce's condition worsened, Tallulah (seen right) admitted that she thought her father had 'lost interest in her' after welcoming two children with second wife Emma (second from right)

As Bruce’s condition worsened, Tallulah (seen right) admitted that she thought her father had ‘lost interest in her’ after welcoming two children with second wife Emma (second from right)

‘I find that I’m trying to document, to build a record for the day when he isn’t there to remind me of him and of us,’ she shared.

Less than a year after sharing his first aphasia diagnosis, Bruce received another devastating blow when he was told that he has frontotemporal dementia (FTD) – an uncommon type of the disease that causes a deterioration in behavior, personality and language.

FTD – which is responsible for around one in 20 dementia cases – is caused by an abnormal build-up of proteins which damage cells in front and sides of the brain.  

Tallulah says that her father’s dementia has ‘thankfully not affected his mobility’, revealing that the Die Hard actor ‘still knows who she is’, noting that he ‘lights up when she enters the room’. 

‘He may always know who I am, give or take the occasional bad day,’ she added. 

However, she is painfully aware that his condition will continue to grow more severe, explaining that his aphasia ‘can shift so quickly and unpredictably’. 

‘I know that trials are looming, that this is the beginning of grief,’ she wrote, adding that she she is doing her best to ‘savor the time’ she has with her father while she can. 

‘I keep flipping between the present and the past when I talk about Bruce: he is, he was, he is, he was. That’s because I have hopes for my father that I’m so reluctant to let go of. I’ve always recognized elements of his personality in me, and I just know that we’d be such good friends if only there were more time.’

She revealed that her father can most often be found on the first floor of the home he shares with Emma, 44, whom he married in 2009, and their two children, Mabel Ray, 11, and Evelyn, nine. 

The actress explained that Bruce spends much of his time in his office, a room that she says has ‘always been a kind of window into what he’s most interested in’, describing it as being filled with ‘knicknacks he has collected, and where there is ‘always music playing’.