Bruce Willis' daughter Tallulah speaks candidly about how long she knew her dad's health was declining.
Bruce Willis’ daughter Tallulah Willis has opened up about her struggles with her dad’s declining health, saying the early symptoms of his dementia were easy to write off at first and that she has regrets about the way she handled things. But, as The Hollywood Reporter shared, in a revealing Vogue essay, Willis says she is recovering from her own issues while learning to be present for her father.
Bruce Willis’ family has been keeping the public updated on his condition, first announcing his exit from acting due to aphasia. The neurological condition that had been developing for some time led him to star in as many movies as possible leading up to the retirement he knew would come. More recently, the family has announced that Willis’ condition has declined, and that he has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
At first, Bruce Willis seemed to have developed hearing loss. His daughter says there would be times of “unresponsiveness” that the family chalked up to auditory difficulties stemming from his long action movie career. But those periods got worse and Willis began to feel her father was intentionally ignoring her, a feeling that developed into greater thoughts of inadequacy.
Though Bruce Willis in fact never loved his daughter any less, Tallulah, whose mother is Demi Moore, began to feel like she wasn’t good enough for her dad or beautiful enough for her mom. When Bruce went on to have children with his second wife, Emma Hemming, Tallulah thought he had “lost interest” in her. In fact, the actor’s health was declining, but it took some time for the family to understand that.
In the meantime, Bruce Willis’ daughter began her own battles, slipping into alcoholism before becoming sober at age 20, developing anorexia nervosa, and being diagnosed with both depression and ADHD. For the former, she spent some time in a residential facility, while she has had a great deal of relief from the latter after the prescription of stimulant medications. She describes her response to her father’s decline as “a share of avoidance and denial that I’m not proud of.”
As Bruce Willis’ condition worsened, Tallulah eventually began to see that she needed to take care of herself and get better so that she could be present for her father. It was at a wedding in 2021 that she had an epiphany. As she listened to the bride’s father give a speech about his daughter, she realized she would never have that experience because she had been so distant from her own dad.
Bruce Willis will still likely never make that speech, but not because of disengagement from his daughter. Willis says she is now able to be fully present for him, even as she knows her recovery will likely be ongoing in some form for the rest of her life. She’s now focused on bringing him positive energy, no matter what she has been going through—a development that has brought healing.
As Bruce Willis’ family gathers around him for support during this time, Tallulah says that it really is true that we must first love ourselves in order to love someone else. By taking care of herself, she is now able to be supportive for her dad, who needs that support more than ever.