The pair co-starred in Pulp Fiction and Look Who’s Talking, fostering a friendship spanning decades.
But Willis’ family confirmed yesterday (Wednesday 30 March) that he would be calling time on his career due to brain disorder aphasia, which is ‘impacting his cognitive abilities’.
Travolta paid tribute to Willis on Instagram, praising his ‘generous soul’.
The 68-year-old wrote: “Bruce and I became good friends when we shared 2 of our biggest hits together, Pulp Fiction and Look Who’s Talking.
“Years later he said to me, ‘John, I just want you to know that when something good happens to you I feel like it’s happening to me.’
“That’s how generous a soul he is. I love you Bruce.”
Willis gained superstar status for his role as John McClane in Die Hard, but also went on to star in huge films such as The Fifth Element, The Sixth Sense, and Sin City.
He is known for his hard-man persona, but also picked up a Golden Globe for his role as private detective David Addison in Moonlighting.
But he is now stepping away from the limelight after being diagnosed with aphasia, which affects cognitive functions such as the ability to speak, write, and understand language.
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The NHS website describes the disorder as ‘when a person has difficulty with their language or speech’ and says it is ‘usually caused by damage to the left side of the brain.’
It is not known how long 67-year-old Willis has had the disorder.
Sharing the sad news, a joint statement issued by his wife Emma, ex-wife Demi Moore and his five children read: “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.
“This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support.
“We are moving through this as a strong family unit, and wanted to bring his fans in because we know how much he means to you, as you do to him.
“As Bruce always says, ‘Live it up’ and together we plan to do just that.”