Tallulah, daughter of Bruce Willis: “While I flaunted my dysmorphia, my father quietly struggled with frontotemporal dementia” | People



The family of Bruce Willis (Idar-Oberstein, Germany, 68 years old) announced in March 2022 that the actor suffered from aphasia, a brain disease that affects speech, which forced him to abandon his career in Hollywood. A year later, his loved ones made public that this symptom was a characteristic of frontotemporal dementia that he really suffered from, a progressive neurological disorder that undermines his cognition and behavior on a day-to-day basis, according to what his daughter Tallulah Willis (Los Angeles, 29 years old) now recounts. ) in a text written for the magazine Vogue. “I’ve known something was wrong for a long time,” acknowledges the youngest of the three daughters from Willis’s relationship with Demi Moore. “It started with a vague lack of response that the family attributed to hearing loss. Later, that lack of response was amplified and sometimes I took it personally. I had had two babies with my stepmother, Emma Heming Willis, and I thought she had lost interest in me,” explains the also actress.

Tallulah opens up in her writing, admitting that she has “known the decline of Bruce in recent years with a part of avoidance and denial” of which she is not proud. “The truth is that I was too sick to handle it”, she justifies herself before listing the different disorders that she has suffered throughout her life, among which are anorexia nervosa, depression or ADHD. “While I was wrapped up in my body dysmorphia, flaunting it on Instagram, my father was silently struggling. All kinds of cognitive tests were being carried out, but we still did not have a diagnosis, ”she recounts in the publication, where she also remembers the first moment in which the reality of the actor’s disease hit her “painfully”. “She was at a wedding in the summer of 2021 on Martha’s Vineyard and the father of the bride gave a moving speech. I suddenly realized that I would never have that moment, my father will never talk about me at my wedding. It was devastating. I left the table, went out and cried in the bushes ”, confesses Tallulah, who in June of last year broke off her engagement with film director Dillon Buss.

After going through several rehabilitation centers and trying different therapies to treat her eating and mental disorders, the youngest of the Willis-Moore family believes that she now has the tools to be present in all facets of her life. “And especially in my relationship with my father,” she says. “In the past I was very afraid that sadness would destroy me, but finally I feel like I can savor that time, hold my father’s hand and feel that he is wonderful,” she writes.

Now, he confesses that he takes “tons of photos” every time he goes to Bruce’s house – “I’m like an archaeologist, looking for treasure in things I never used to pay attention to” – and saves all his voicemails on a hard drive. “I try to build a record for the day he’s not there, to remember him and us,” she explains.

Tallulah Willis, at the GQ Men Of The Year 2022 party in West Hollywood in November.
Tallulah Willis, at the GQ Men Of The Year 2022 party in West Hollywood in November.Gregg DeGuire (FilmMagic/Getty Images)

Beyond her father’s state of health, Tallulah also takes advantage of the post to open up about the difficulties of growing up in a famous family, “struggling to find a patch of light through the long shadows” cast by her parents. According to her, her world changed completely when she was 11 years old, after attending an event in New York with her mother, Demi Moore, and who was her partner at the time, actor Ashton Kutcher. “I was feeling terribly grown up and very pleased with myself, so I wanted to see if my outfit had made it onto the party pages of style websites. I opened my laptop and there I was in my pre-teen awkwardness, standing next to my famously beautiful mother. Then I found the comments, hundreds of them, and the words just burned on the screen. ‘Wow, it looks misshapen. Look at her man jaw, it’s like an ugly version of her father. Her mother must be so disappointed.’ I remember how deadly silent the room was. I sat reading for two hours, believing that I had stumbled upon a truth about myself that no one had told me because they were trying to protect me. And for years afterward, protecting people back, I didn’t tell anyone. I simply lived with the silent certainty of my own ugliness,” she reveals.

Rumer Willis, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Tallulah Willis at the after party for Bruce Willis' Comedy Central Roast in Los Angeles in 2018.
Rumer Willis, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Tallulah Willis at the after party for Bruce Willis’ Comedy Central Roast in Los Angeles in 2018.Phil Faraone/VMN18 (Getty Images)

Even so, the actress also recalls the good times she has lived with her family, such as the recent birth of her niece Louetta, daughter of her sister Rummer, who has made grandparents of those who for 11 years were one of the most beloved couples and movie celebrities. “There is a little creature that changes every hour, and at the same time, there is something going on with my father that can change so quickly and unpredictably. It feels like a unique and special moment in my family, and I am very happy to be here for it, ”she acknowledges. These days, she warns, she can find her father on the first floor of the house, somewhere in the large open space that the kitchen, dining room and living room occupy, or in her office. “Fortunately, the dementia hasn’t affected his mobility,” she celebrates. The advantage of frontotemporal dementia over Alzheimer’s, she explains, is that it is characterized by language deficits rather than memory loss. “She still knows who I am and lights up when I walk into the room,” she admits.

The actor’s third daughter alternates present and past tenses to refer to Bruce: “He was cool and charming and clever and elegant and sweet and a little crazy, and I embrace all of that. Those are the genes I inherited from him.” She attributes it to the hope that she still places in him since she is reluctant to let him go. “I have always recognized elements of his personality in me,” she says, “and I know we would be very good friends if there was more time.”


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