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Bruce Willis Collaborators Describe His Mental Decline ” He Was Just Being Puppeted”

Following the announcement by Bruce Willis’ family that the actor is retiring from acting due to a diagnosis of aphasia, an illness that limits one’s capacity to communicate.

The 67-year-old actor’s coworkers had previously noticed his troubles speaking, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.

The New York Times spoke with a number of people who have worked with Willis on recent films—made he’s 22 in the last four years alone, often appearing briefly on screen while earning a big paycheck and appearing heavily in promotional materials, in a genre known as “geezer teasers”—including Mike Burns, the director of the 2021 action film Out of Death, who revealed that he had to ask for Willis’ lines to be drastically cut.

“He just looked so lost, and he would say, ‘I’ll do my best.’ He always tried his best,” White Elephant production supervisor Terri Martin said. “He is one of the all-time greats, and I have the utmost admiration and respect for his body of work, but it was time for him to retire.”

The New York Times spoke with “almost two dozen people who were on set with the actor,” who related accounts about Willis’ struggles to remember lines, a prop gun misfire that shook the cast and crew of 2020’s Hard Kill, and stringent work schedules that limited him to eight hours per day.

According to the New York Times, he was typically well compensated for his performances, earning as much as $2 million for two days on set.

“It was less of an annoyance and more like: ‘How do we not make Bruce look bad?’” a crew member told the Times. “Someone would give him a line and he didn’t understand what it meant. He was just being puppeted.”

The narrative also mentions two people close to Willis who were essential in assisting him in the day-to-day production of the film—and benefited financially from the deal.

There’s Adam Huel Potter, an actor who was paid more than $4,000 a week and given small roles in Willis’ films to help feed the star with lines–a profession known as a “earwig” according to the New York Times.

Stephen J. Eads, Willis’ longtime handler who “carted Bruce around everywhere” on shoots and was listed as a producer on his films, once made $200,000 per film for a three-picture deal with MoviePass.

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