The Exploitation of Bruce Willis: Claims Randall Emmett forced actor to work despite illness refuted by lawyer
Bruce Willis' attorney Martin Singer has responded to rumors that producer Randall Emmett knew about the actor's health issues but continued to make him work anyway. In March, the 67-year-old star's family announced he was retiring from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, a brain disorder that affects the ability to communicate.
"My client continued working after his medical diagnosis because he wanted to work and was able to do so, just like many others diagnosed with aphasia who are capable of continuing to work. Because Mr Willis appeared in those films, they could get financed. That resulted in literally thousands of people having jobs, many during the Covid-19 pandemic," Singer told Los Angeles Times.
The 51-year-old producer allegedly revealed to his then-fiancée, actress Lala Kent, that Willis was struggling during the production of 'Midnight in the Switchgrass' which was Emmett's directorial debut. Emmett reportedly told Kent, "I can't do this anymore. It's just so sad. Bruce can't remember any of his lines. He doesn't know where he is." The phone call was reportedly overheard by two other witnesses, reports the portal.
"A voice coming through the actor's earpiece coached him through his lines. A stunt coordinator gently attempted to guide him. Yet, take after take, Willis did not seem to understand, according to seven crew members who were present for the late-night shoot. Emmett rose from behind the video monitor and mimed the actions, urging Willis to emulate him. When the effort failed, the director [Emmett] left the set in frustration, three of the crew members said," as per Los Angeles Times.
Meanwhile, Emmett denied that he was aware "of any decline in Mr Willis' health" in a statement to the portal. "Our stunt coordinator mentioned he was struggling. Our first AD saw he was struggling. You would have to be blind to not see him struggling," revealed Alicia Haverland, a property master in the film. A representative for Emmett told US Weekly, "Randall is very proud of the work he and Bruce Willis have done over the last 15 years. In every single movie they have done together, Bruce enjoyed being on set, playing golf, going to dinners, and communing with the crew."
Willis and Emmett have worked together on films like '16 Blocks', 'Fire With Ice', 'Acts of Violence', 'Vice', and 'Out of Death'.
"If Bruce had not wanted to be on set, he would not have been there. Willis is one of the greatest actors of his time and was sought after by multiple production companies until his recent retirement. Randall counts him among his closest friends," the statement concluded. The day Willis' aphasia diagnosis was announced, Emmett posted an image with the actor on his Instagram and wrote, "Bruce and I have worked on over 20 films together. He is a terrific actor and legendary action star, an incredible father, and a close friend."
"I fully support Bruce and his family during this challenging time and admire him for his courage in battling this incredibly difficult medical condition. Bruce will always be a part of my family," his message said.
Willis' diagnosis of aphasia was earlier announced in an Instagram post by the actor's family.
"To Bruce's amazing supporters, as a family, we wanted to share that our 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," the announcement said.