“I think that he’s fantastic,” Schwarzenegger told Cinema Blend on Saturday. “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.”
“I understand that under his circumstances, health-wise, that he had to retire,” he continued, referring to the aphasia and dementia diagnoses Willis received over the last year. “But in general, you know, we never really retire. Action heroes, they reload.”
Schwarzenegger and Willis have known each other for decades and became the biggest action stars of their generation. Their only box-office competition in the genre was Sylvester Stallone, with whom they launched the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain in 1991.
The dreams of diehard fans wishing to see them on-screen together were finally realized in 2010 with “The Expendables,” which amassed a horde of old and new action stars for a lucrative trilogy. In March 2022, however, Willis’ family announced he was retiring.
“This is a really challenging time for our family and we are so appreciative of your continued love, compassion and support,” they wrote in a statement at the time, disclosing Willis was diagnosed with aphasia — a condition that affects the ability to communicate.
“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,” they continued. “As Bruce always says, ‘Live it up’ and together we plan to do just that.”
In February 2023, Willis’ family shared in a statement that the “Die Hard” actor’s condition had progressed into frontotemporal dementia.
“Bruce always believed in using his voice in the world to help others, and to raise awareness about important issues both publicly and privately,” they wrote in an Instagram update posted by Willis’ ex-wife Demi Moore.
“We know in our hearts that — if he could today — he would want to respond by bringing global attention and a connectedness with those who are also dealing with this debilitating disease and how much it impacts so many individuals and their families,” they continued.
Schwarzenegger, who recently raised awareness himself about the precarious misuse of steroids by young athletes, has since gravitated toward another issue: global warming. The “FUBAR” star most recently told CBS’s “Sunday Morning” that it’s become his “crusade.”
“As long as they keep talking about global climate change, they are not gonna go anywhere,” he told the show’s correspondent Tracy Smith. “’Cause no one gives a shit about that. So my thing is, let’s go and rephrase this…we’re talking about pollution.”
“Pollution creates climate change,” he continued, “and pollution kills.”
“I’m on a mission to go and reduce greenhouse gases worldwide, because I’m into having a healthy body and a healthy Earth,” Schwarzenegger told Smith. “That’s what I’m fighting for. And that’s my crusade.”