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The Tragic Reason Bruce Willis Is Retiring From Acting

In the most recent chapter of his decades-long career, Bruce Willis has become well known for what some might call an incredibly prolific output, churning out more films in a year than some movie stars do in an entire decade. Just as an illustration, his IMDb page at the time of writing lists a total of seven projects either in various stages of production, and all are currently slated for release in 2022. This, it seems, has been a trend for Willis, who has spent the last decade of his career slowly increasing his project output. 2021 also saw the release of eight Willis features, while 2020 saw four movies make their way to audiences — technically five, if you count his "DieHard is Back" commercial for DieHard batteries, which saw him reprising his famous John McClane character from the "Die Hard" films one last time. 

That prodigious work rate might make it seem like retirement would be the last thing on his agenda, but unfortunately, for his many fans, it seems his incredible career in the movie business is now coming to an end. The news about what's next for Willis comes directly from the actor's family, with his wife, Emma Heming Willis, and the rest of his blended family taking to social media to announce the reason for the A-lister's unexpected retirement and the circumstances surrounding the end of his work in film.

While it might not necessarily be happy news for fans of Willis, it's as good an occasion as any to take the time to celebrate the actor's accomplishments over the course of his one-of-a-kind career in both movies and television.

Willis is retiring from acting due to various health issues

On Wednesday, March 30, Bruce Willis' wife, Emma Heming Willis, took to Instagram to announce her husband's retirement from acting. The announcement — a collective statement from Heming Willis and Willis' first wife, Demi Moore, and all of his children — reads, in part, "[O]ur beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has 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. This is a really challenging time for our family, and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion, and support."

Aphasia is defined by the Mayo Clinic as "a condition that affects your ability to communicate," whether it be verbal or written. As you can imagine, this diagnosis might have an impact on an actor regarding both memorizing and delivering lines. As such, it is understandable and worthy of our empathy that Willis, with the support of his family, would choose to retire and place his focus elsewhere.

Heming Willis' post doesn't go into any additional details about Willis' health status. Instead, the Willis family's letter to the actor's fans asks for their continued support and pledges to "live it up" as a family during the actor's retirement. For fans, the news is very sad indeed, but there's comfort in the fact that we have more than our fair share of his performances to look back at and enjoy.

He's had an incredible career even if it's ending sooner than we expected

It's bittersweet to see Bruce Willis' career end on this note, especially for fans of the actor who might have been holding out hope that he could one day return to the kinds of high-profile productions he used to anchor in the past – movies like "Die Hard," "Pulp Fiction," and "The Sixth Sense," to name just a few. However, it's nice to know that the actor's early retirement comes in the hopes he can take care of his health and spend time with his family.

Willis leaves behind an incredible and impactful body of work for audiences to enjoy. His big break in show business came in 1985 when "Moonlighting," starring himself and Cybill Shepherd, became a pop culture phenomenon. He eventually parlayed his TV stardom into a career as a leading man in feature films, with his big-screen leading debut in 1987's "Blind Date," a manic romantic comedy directed by Blake Edwards.  Then, in 1988, Willis appeared in what would become his signature role: John McClane, the hard-luck protagonist of "Die Hard" and its eventual four sequels. Willis was a new kind of action hero in "Die Hard," sarcastic and in over his head. 

Willis has built an incredible onscreen legacy

Audiences clearly took a liking to his "Die Hard" persona, as well as the movie, because it opened the door for a new chapter in his career as an action star and, more importantly, a major marquee name. The '90s and '00s saw Willis forge important collaborations with filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Walter Hill, Tony Scott, Luc Besson, Richard Rush, and many more. Of particular note is his string of films with M. Night Shyamalan, including the supernatural thriller "The Sixth Sense" and the superhero drama "Unbreakable."

In the more recent years of his career, his direct-to-video work has been broken up by exciting returns to big-screen blockbusters. Willis re-teamed with Shyamalan for two follow-ups to the "Unbreakable" narrative universe: "Split" (in which he appears in the end credits scene) and "Glass." He also worked with director Wes Anderson on the 2012 charmer "Moonrise Kingdom" and, that same year, he appeared opposite Joseph Gordon Levitt and Emily Blunt in the time travel thriller "Looper."

Willis even remained a box office draw even after starring in notorious flops like "Hudson Hawk" and "The Bonfire of the Vanities," a testament to his enduring star power, making it all the sadder that he's now being forced to end what was already a one-of-a-kind, enviable filmography. Only time will tell what reputation the actor's filmography will continue to take on following his early retirement.