Bruce Willis Retirement Leads To New Reflections

Bruce Willis in Die Hard. Courtesy of 20th Century Studios.

Bruce Willis was one of the biggest action stars during the prime of his career but the actor is retiring due to an aphasia diagnosis.

Aphasia is a cognitive condition that affects how one formulates and comprehends language. Having your lines fed through an earpiece is a terrible way to spend the final years of your acting career. But for Willis, this was his life over the past few years along with confusion upon arriving on set for a few days.

Once Upon a Time in Venice is the only one of the recent Direct-Video films that I’ve covered. It’s not a good film by any means but now one understands why the actor did so many of these films. It gave him $2 million for putting in two days of work. To put it simply, the money from all of these movies help to provide a safety net for his family. It is truly sad to watch him retire in this way. I’ll be honest in that I haven’t covered any of the Direct-Video films since 2017. The reunion between Bruce Willis and John Travolta is reason enough to have an interest in watching Paradise City upon its release. No clue how large the role will be for Willis in the film but I’m not expecting much.

I feel for the filmmakers. Yes, they get to say that they got Bruce Willis to star in a movie and include him in marketing. But at the same time, you’re not getting the Bruce Willis from Die Hard. The L.A. Times has an in-depth piece about Willis’s work over the past few years. It’s sad. Say what you will about Woody Allen but as we know now, Willis’s aphasia is what led to his leaving a role in Café Society. Scheduling conflicts were the blame at the time but now we know the extent of the truth as this was roughly about the time that his condition started to worsen. It was assumed that the actor had been fired by Woody Allen but it’s way worse than that.

Many of us will back on the latter part of Bruce Willis’s acting career with new perspectives. It is no different than that of Laurence Olivier. The British legend took small jobs for the money after becoming ill during the final 22 years of his life. It wasn’t until 2014-2015 in which the majority of Willis’s output becomes Direct-Video. The count is well over twenty films, closing in on thirty films. Willis has eight completed films that will be released between 2022-23.

Much will be said about the final years of his career. He made so many appearances in Direct-Video films that the Razzies created a new category for his films alone. Following Wednesday’s announcement, they rescinded the category. Their initial statement came with a backlash and rightfully so. We should be celebrating what we love about movies, not giving out awards for what we do not like.

My thoughts are with Bruce Willis and his family as they navigate this chapter of his life.

Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.