Arnold Schwarzenegger is sharing his thoughts on fellow action star Bruce Willis, who has stepped back from Hollywood after being diagnosed with aphasia last year. In February, Willis's family revealed that the Die Hard star's condition had worsened and that he had been confirmed as having frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
In an interview with CinemaBlend, Schwarzenegger addressed Willis's legacy.
"I think that he's fantastic," the Terminator star and former California governor, 75, said of Willis. "He was, always for years and years, is a huge, huge star. And I think that he will always be remembered as a great, great star. And a kind man."
He continued, "I understand that under his circumstances, health-wise, that he had to retire. But in general, you know, we never really retire. Action heroes, they reload."
While the duo did become friends, their relationship used to be one of competition. According to an excerpt published in Entertainment Weekly from The Last Action Heroes by Nick de Semlyen, Schwarzenegger reportedly "guffawed through a screening" of the iconic 1988 film Die Hard, which starred Willis as a New York City cop trying to save his wife and a skyscraper full of her colleagues from terrorists led by Alan Rickman. In fact, Schwarzenegger once told Willis he'd never make it in the competitive genre.
According to the book, Schwarzenegger once loudly chided Willis from across a crowded restaurant, shouting, "Know why you'll never be an action star?" When Willis replied, "No, Arnold, why?" Schwarzenegger flexed and pointed to his biceps, saying "toothpick arms," noting the significant size difference between the two.
Willis and Schwarzenegger eventually became friends and even business partners. Along with fellow action star Sylvester Stallone, they launched the popular Planet Hollywood restaurant chain in 1991, which went on to have over 20 locations across the globe.
Last year, Stallone reacted to Wills's aphasia diagnosis.
“Bruce is going through some really, really difficult times,” Stallone said of his Expendables co-star in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter in 2022. “So he’s been sort of incommunicado. That kills me. It’s so sad."
Stallone also sent Willis well wishes in an Instagram post. “We go back a long way, praying for the best for you and your wonderful family," he wrote.