Sept. 28, 2012 — Today marks the long awaited U.S. release of the movie Looper starring Bruce Willis. In this futuristic action thriller set in 2044, Bruce Willis’ character encounters a 25 year-old incarnation of himself, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who has been contracted to kill him.
Looper, which was written and directed by Rian Johnson, has received a lot of attention due to the plot irony in that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is playing a young Bruce Willis. Gordon-Levitt has made the rounds on the talk shows and was asked about what it was like to play a young Bruce Willis, which has definitely raised interest in the movie.
Unfortunately, interviews and media accounts of “the young Bruce Willis” in relation to the movie have invariably been guilty of one glaring omission about the real life of the young Bruce Willis: the future actor struggled with stuttering into his late teens.
While Bruce Willis has always been among the most prominent names on the Stuttering Foundation’s list of Famous People Who Stutter, an in-depth profile of the actor appeared in the Celebrity Corner column titled Look Who’s Talking ... Bruce Willis.
The article tells how Bruce Willis grew up as a person who stutters but in his high school years found that he was fluent on stage. Continuing with acting, a college drama coach encouraged him to also seek out speech therapy. The rest is history.
Coming onto the radar screen in 1985 as David Addison in the hit show Moonlighting, Willis’ distinguished film career ranks him as the 7th highest-grossing actor in terms of leading roles, thanks to films like The Sixth Sense, Armageddon, Bonfire of the Vanities and the Die Hard franchise.
Jane Fraser, the president of the Stuttering Foundation, said, “The stuttering community felt a sense of pride in the 1980s when Bruce Willis regularly would mention his past stuttering in interviews. With all the buzz about Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a young Bruce Willis in Looper, it is would have been nice for the public to be reminded that stuttering was a major part of the young Bruce Willis in real life.”
In the 2001 biography Bruce Willis: Overcoming Adversity by Sandy Asirvatham, Willis’ admitted that he was reluctant to discuss his childhood in interviews because it was too painful due in large part to his stuttering.
Though the “young Bruce Willis” discussed in interviews and reviews about Looper did not include any mention of the A-list actor’s stuttering, the worldwide stuttering community feels blessed to have Bruce Willis among its ranks because when he has discussed stuttering, he has always generated a level of compassion and understanding that puts a human face on the speech problem he shares with more than 68 million people worldwide.
A profile on Bruce Willis can be found in the Celebrity Corner section of the Stuttering Foundation’s website, along with detailed articles on Rowan Atkinson, Emily Blunt, Dominick Dunne, Byron Pitts, Sophie Gustafson, B.B. King, Lewis Carroll and more.