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Pulp Fiction cast honour Bruce Willis amid actor’s dementia diagnosis

Willis’s daughter attended anniversary wearing baseball cap printed with ‘Bruce’

Ellie Muir
Friday 19 April 2024 08:36
Bruce Willis's daughter Tallulah attends Pulp Fiction screening alongside Emma Heming Willis

The cast of Pulp Fiction have honoured Bruce Willis as they reunited at an event celebrating the 30th anniversary of the cult film.

The film’s stars Samuel L Jackson, Uma Thurman and John Travolta gathered at the Hollywood screening but Willis remained at home as he lives with frontotemporal dementia.

His daughter Tullulah, 30, and his wife Emma Heming Willis, 45, were there to represent the actor’s involvement in the 1994 cult film, in which he played boxer Butch Coolidge.

The stars in attendance at the TCM Classic Film Festival on Thursday (18 April) posed for a series of photos celebrating the Tarantino film. They were joined by other cast members including Rosanna Arquette, Phil LaMarr, Julia Sweeney, Frank Whaley, and Eric Stoltz.

In Willis’s absence, his daughter Tallulah honoured him by wearing a black baseball cap with “Bruce” embroidered in white letters. Emma, who has been married to Willis for 15 years, wore a jet-black suit with high heels.

Travolta told Entertainment Tonight about his memories of working with Willis on key scenes in the cult film.

Samuel L Jackson, Harvey Keitel, Uma Thurman and John Travolta at the 30th Anniversary of ‘Pulp Fiction’ event (Getty Images for TCM)

“Bruce and I had a history. We did Look Who’s Talking together, and we had a massive success with it,” explained Travolta. “So we were [friends]. We had been on vacation together, Kelly [Preston] and I with Bruce and Demi [Moore]. So this was not new. We were comfortable with each other.”

Emma Heming Willis and Tallulah Willis attend ‘Pulp Fiction’ event on behalf of Bruce Willis (Getty Images for TCM)

“It was very easy to be with each other and relax, you know?” Travolta recalled. “And there was real genuine care. And we felt lucky we were in a very special movie.”

In February 2023, Willis’s family announced that the actor’s aphasia condition had developed into frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

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The new diagnosis also came one year after his family first announced he would be “stepping away” from acting since he had been diagnosed with aphasia, which was “impacting his cognitive abilities”.

‘Pulp Fiction’ star Uma Thurman (Getty Images for TCM)

“We now have a more specific diagnosis: frontotemporal dementia,” Willis’ family wrote in a statement with the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration in February 2023. “Unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces. While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis.

FTD is an umbrella term for a group of dementias that mainly affect the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which are responsible for such things as personality, behaviour, language and speech, according to Dementia UK.

Since his diagnosis, Heming has continued to give frequent updates about her husband’s health on social media. In March, Heming hit back at reports that claimed that Willis was living “without joy” following his dementia diagnosis.

Bruce Willis and his wife Emma pictured in 2019 (Getty Images for Film at Lincoln)

“The headline basically says there is no more joy in my husband. Now, I can just tell you, that is far from the truth,” she said in an Instagram video.

“I need society – and whoever’s writing these stupid headlines – to stop scaring people. Stop scaring people to think that once they get a diagnosis of some kind of neurocognitive disease that ‘that’s it, it’s over. Let’s pack it up.”

She said that while her family are dealing with “grief” and sadness of Willis’s illness, the actor is surrounded by “love” and “happiness”.

“That’s where we are. So stop with these stupid headlines. These stupid clickbait-y things that freak people out. Stop doing that. There’s nothing to see here, ok?” Heming concluded.

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