Stuttering in Mainstream Media – Blog 11: Bruce Willis’s Story

A lot of people know Bruce Willis from his roles in films such as Die Hard, Glass and The Sixth Sense to name but a few but did you know that Bruce Willis used to have a stutter? The fact that Bruce Willis, a very successful actor, has lived with and got past having a stutter just goes to further my firm belief that a stutter does not stop you doing anything in life. In today’s blog, we will be looking at his story.

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Today’s blog is going to be the eleventh blog in the Stuttering in Mainstream Media series and is going to be about Bruce Willis’s story. I find Bruce’s story a really inspiring and emotional one and it is a great story to see the effect that a stutter leaves on a person even after they have gotten over it. The emotion and body language that Bruce shows when he talks about his childhood and growing up with a stutter helps give everyone an insight into what living with a stutter is actually like. The video below is taken from a speech Bruce made at the AIS (American Institue for Stuttering) Gala in 2016 and helps back up the points that I have made. When you watch the video the sheer emotion and passion that Bruce has when talking about Stuttering and the work that AIS do is truly inspirational.

Bruce started stuttering when he was around 9 years old. Bruce describes himself as a shy child due to the problems he had with his speech. An Article published by Making Peace with Life, http://www.makingpeacewithlife.com/uncategorized/how-bruce-willis-has-overcome-stuttering/, helps us to take a deeper look at Bruce’s story and how he managed to overcome his stutter. It is important to remember that Bruce does still stutter from time to time, it is just now he knows how to manage it. Due to the control that Bruce has over his stutter, it is no longer an issue for him.

Bruce’s stutter did have quite a large effect on Bruce’s school life. To try and avoid speaking situations, Bruce started to skip classes in high school. This led to him starting to get into drama and different plays. As mentioned in the article he ” would play roles such as the joker so that he can bring smiles to the audience’s face without much talking”. He became a bit of a class clown by pulling pranks and making jokes in front of his classmates as a way of compensating for his stutter.

Over time Bruce started to get more confident speaking in front of a crowd due to all of his plays. He found that when he was acting on stage, he did not stutter. The interesting thing was that even though he would not stutter on stage, as soon as he came off he would start stuttering again. Around 1 or 2 years after finishing school Bruce managed to get a place at Montclair State College in New Jersey, “as a drama student.”At the college one of his professors, Jerry Rockwood discovered Bruce’s potential as an actor and advised him to start going to speech therapy. The combination of acting and speech therapy was what led Bruce to help manage his stutter.

Bruce says that stuttering helped make him a “better person”. In the article, he talks about how his stutter led to him being “more compassionate towards other people’s pain and struggles.” He goes on to say that his stutter led to him discovering an “inner strength” that he did not know that he had before.

Bruce’s story is an incredible story to look at and it does go to show that you can still be successful even with a stutter. To reinforce the point that I have made numerous times in this series, a stutter does not stop you doing what you want to do. A stutter may make it a little bit more difficult but I’m sure we can all agree that hard work does ultimately pay off.

To finish this blog off I want us to revisit a quote Bruce made in the Youtube video I included in this blog from the AIS Gala in 2016. In his speech, Bruce mentions a quote made by Eleanor Roosevelt. The quote itself is “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Don’t stop speaking just because one or two people made fun of your stutter, You have a voice – make sure you use it. Your stutter does not make what you have to say any less valuable, remember that.

Thank you for reading today’s blog! What do you all think? I have only briefly covered Bruce Willis’s story, there is still plenty more to look at if you are interested. What else would you like to see covered in this series? Did you know acting can be a form of a stuttering solution? Let me know what you think of the blog and any thoughts/questions you have in the comments below!

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a good day,

Sweeney’s Blogs

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James

 

 

 

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