Producer Randall Emmett is under fire for his treatment of Bruce Willis amid struggles with the actor’s health.
In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, the actor’s attorney addressed the accusations that the producer knew about Willis’s condition and pushed him to work anyway.
“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,” attorney Martin Singer said. “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.”
In March, Willis’s family announced that the iconic action star was stepping back from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, a neurological disorder affecting the ability to speak and communicate.
The actor had worked with Emmett on a number of films before announcing his retirement, including the producer’s first film as director, “Midnight in the Switchgrass”.
The LA Times reported that while working on the movie, Emmett told then-fiancée Lala Kent that Willis was struggling on the shoot.
“I can’t do this anymore,” Kent recalled her ex telling her over the phone, in a conversation witnessed by two others. “It’s just so sad. Bruce can’t remember any of his lines. He doesn’t know where he is.”
Though the alleged call took place in September 2020, well before Willis’s struggles with aphasia became publicly known, property master Alicia Haverland said that the actor’s health issues were an open secret on the set.
“Our stunt co-ordinator mentioned he was struggling,” she said. “Our first AD saw he was struggling. You would have to be blind to not see him struggling.”
Other crew members reportedly witnessed Willis needing significant help in order to shoot scenes, including actors feeding him lines through an earpiece and Emmett mimicking actions for him.
Emmett, meanwhile, is also currently facing allegations of abuse and inappropriate behaviour against women, employees, and business partners, including offering acting work in exchange for sexual favours and forcing assistants to conduct dangerous or illegal activities on his behalf.
The producer’s spokesperson Sallie Hofmeister denied the allegations to the Los Angeles Times.