Demi Moore, who was born in Roswell, New Mexico in 1962, rose to prominence as a teenager on the soap opera General Hospital before landing a role in the film St. Elmo’s Fire. Moore’s 1990 smash Ghost, together with her marriage to Bruce Willis, established her into a Hollywood A-lister for the next few years. Striptease and G.I. Jane were flops, but she continued to appear in films like Charlie’s Angels 2 while publicly suffering professional and personal challenges.
Moore was born Demetria Guynes in Roswell, New Mexico on November 11, 1962. Her parents divorced before she was born, and she was raised by her mother and stepfather, Virginia and Danny Guynes, who were both heavy drinkers.
Moore had relocated over 30 times by the age of 14, eventually landing in Los Angeles. Moore later noted in an interview with Interview magazine that “I learnt to swiftly integrate into different environments and become quite comfortable with people through moving around a lot. That, I believe, was one of the most important influences in my decision to become an actress.”
Soap Star and Early Roles
Moore dropped out of high school at 16 and worked as a debt collector before attempting modeling. She also became interested in acting. Moore won a position on the iconic television soap series General Hospital in 1981. For two years, she played journalist Jackie Templeton. Moore made her cinematic debut in the independent drama Choices the same year.
Moore found time for a couple film ventures during her stay on General Hospital. After marrying musician Freddie Moore in 1981, she co-starred in the 3-D science fiction horror film Parasite (1982). Moore also appeared in the soap opera parody Young Doctors in Love (1982).
‘St. Elmo’s Fire’ Breakout
Moore struggled to establish a cinematic career after quitting her soap opera role. She played Michael Caine’s daughter in the 1984 film Blame it on Rio, which received little notice from reviewers or audiences. Moore made her feature film debut as Jon Cryer’s love interest in No Little Affair (1984), but it wasn’t until her performance in St. Elmo’s Fire that she captured the public’s attention (1985). This film depicted the narrative of a group of friends as they face life after college.
Other rising young talents in the cast included Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, and Emilio Estevez. Many of these actors became famous for their off-screen antics and partying lifestyle, earning them the moniker “Brat Pack” from the media.
Moore filed for divorce from her first spouse in 1984. She began dating Emilio Estevez, and the two married in 1985. The couple co-starred in Wisdom, a 1986 film that Estevez also wrote and directed. Moore co-starred with Rob Lowe in About Last Night, a film about young singles in Chicago, the same year.
Both of their performances were acclaimed by critic Roger Ebert, who stated that the picture “gives them the best acting opportunity either of them has ever had, and they make the most of them.” Moore was also singled out “Particularly impressive. There isn’t a single romantic note she isn’t needed to play in this film, and she nails them all.”
Marriage to Bruce Willis and ‘Ghost’ Stardom
Moore co-starred in the famous comedy One Crazy Summer with John Cusack as the love interest once more (1986). She was working hard, but she hadn’t yet had a big box office hit. Moore and Estevez split up in 1987, and she later met actor Bruce Willis, who was then in the hit television sitcom Moonlighting with Cybill Shepherd. They started dating and married in November 1987 in Las Vegas. Rumer, their first child, was born in 1988 and was named after the British novelist Rumer Godden.
Moore returned to the big screen the following year with The Seventh Sign, an apocalyptic thriller. She portrayed a pregnant mother attempting to avert the end of the world. Although receiving some excellent feedback for her performance, the picture only grossed roughly $16 million at the box office. Moore moved on to lighter fare with her next film, 1989’s We’re No Angels, starring Robert De Niro and Sean Penn. Despite its outstanding ensemble, the picture was not well received by spectators.
Moore’s biggest break came in 1990, with the romantic drama Ghost. Molly, a young woman whose husband Sam (played by Patrick Swayze) was murdered, was played by her. His soul collaborates with a psychic (Whoopi Goldberg) to revenge his death and protect Molly from the perpetrators. Moore gained recognition for her role on the picture, which became a great smash, by displaying impressive vulnerability on screen. Ghost grossed almost $218 million at the box office and received five Academy Award nominations.
‘A Few Good Men’ and ‘Striptease’
Moore’s subsequent two films, Nothing But Trouble (1991) and The Butcher’s Wife (1991), showcased her comedic abilities. They both, however, failed to draw a large audience. Moore made headlines the same year for her contentious Vanity Fair cover. She was in the midst of her second pregnancy when she posed naked on the cover of the magazine.
Moore, while astonished by the tremendous response to the photograph, saw the cover as an opportunity to challenge stereotypes about women and pregnancy. “People in this country are resistant to motherhood and sensuality. You’re either a sexy woman or a mother. I didn’t want to have to make a decision “She revealed this to Interview magazine. Moore and Willis welcomed the birth of their second daughter, Scout, not long after that magazine hit newsstands.
Moore co-starred with Tom Cruise in the smash film A Few Good Men as a fierce Naval lawyer (1992). With Indecent Proposal (1993), she teamed up with Woody Harrelson to play a married couple in financial problems who fly to Las Vegas to gamble their way back to stability. They end up losing their money and befriending a lonely millionaire (played by Robert Redford), who offers the desperate couple $1 million in exchange for the chance to sleep with Moore’s character. Despite poor reviews, the picture grossed a solid $104 million at the box office.
Moore and Willis welcomed their third child, Tallulah, in 1994. The same year, she co-starred in the box office smash Disclosure with Michael Douglas. Moore portrayed a high-ranking CEO who sexually harasses Douglas’ character. She stated why she took the contentious part in an interview with Entertainment Weekly: “”I’d never played a villain before, so that was appealing to me,” she explained, adding that she was a “disaster” on set: “I’ve never shown up for a program where I literally started trembling before every scene.” I’ve never encountered someone so cunning – she’s simply terrifying.”
Moore made movie history in 1995 when she became the highest-paid actress at the time, earning $12.5 million for her role in Striptease (1996). The story revolves around a single mother who works as a stripper in order to raise funds to sue her ex-husband for custody of their kid (played by Moore’s real-life daughter Rumer). The picture was both a commercial and critical failure.
Professional and Personal Obstacles
Moore was dealing with some personal issues at the time. In 1997, her estranged mother was afflicted with brain cancer, and the mother and daughter were reunited. Moore spent the last several months of her mother’s life with her. Virginia Guynes died of cancer in July 1998. Moore had to deal with another loss at the same time. Several days before Guynes died, she and Willis announced their divorce after more than ten years of marriage.
Moore’s career struggles remained. She played the first woman to try out for the elite Navy Seals military unit in 1997’s G.I. Jane. Moore worked out hard for the job, lifting weights for two hours a day and running six miles. For one scene, she even shaved her head. All of this hard work, however, resulted in a mediocre box office performance. According to Entertainment Weekly, Moore later stated that the media reports “killed G.I. Jane before it ever had a moment.”
During this time, she did achieve success with her production firm, Moving Pictures. She agreed to produce the blockbuster comedy Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and its sequels, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) and Austin Powers in Goldmember (2001).
‘Charlie’s Angels’ Comeback
Moore and her three girls left the Hollywood scene in 1998, moving to Hailey, Idaho, where she and Willis had previously built a property. Moore spent much of her time in Hailey raising her daughters. She left her peaceful small-town life to star in the independent drama Passion of Mind (2000).
Moore’s next feature film was billed as her comeback. She portrayed a villain named Madison Lee in Charlie’s Angels 2: Full Throttle (2003). Moore co-starred with Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, and Cameron Diaz, all of whom are in their twenties. “She’s both beautiful and forceful. Here’s a mother with three children who competes in a bikini with Cameron Diaz. She’s fantastic. I just love her performances and her bravery “McG, the film’s director, stated.
Marriage to Ashton Kutcher
Moore was also receiving a lot of media attention for her personal life at the time. She began dating Ashton Kutcher, a 25-year-old actor 15 years her junior. The tabloids couldn’t get enough of their May-December romance, with some questioning whether it was all a PR trick. Moore and Kutcher proved their detractors wrong when they married in their Beverly Hills home in September 2005. Kutcher grew close to Moore’s daughters, who referred to him as “MOD” – an abbreviation for “My Other Dad.”
Moore went on to play an alcoholic lounge singer in Emilio Estevez’s Bobby (2006), which recreated Robert Kennedy’s final hours through the eyes of many characters at the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel. Her outstanding performance received significant acclaim. Moore followed up this achievement with the thriller Mr. Brooks (2007), in which he played a detective on the trail of a serial killer (Kevin Costner). She then co-starred with Michael Caine in the crime film Flawless (2008).
Moore continued to work on a diverse range of projects. She co-starred with Parker Posey, Rip Torn, and Ellen Barkin in the independent family drama Happy Tears, which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2009. Moore co-starred with Josh Hartnett and Ron Perlman in the 2010 noir action picture Bunraku. She also appeared in the eccentric drama The Joneses with David Duchovny.
Moore gave another strong performance in the 2011 drama Margin Call, alongside Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, and Paul Bettany. That same year, she expanded her job behind the camera by striking a partnership with the Lifetime cable network for numerous new projects.
Divorce and More Challenges
Moore filed for divorce from spouse Ashton Kutcher in November 2011, following multiple reports that he had been unfaithful to her. “As a woman, a mother, and a wife, there are certain principles and vows that I hold precious, and it is in this spirit that I have chosen to move forward with my life,” she said at the time. In 2013, their divorce was finalized.
Moore appeared to be going through a personal crisis in January 2012. According to TMZ, she was transported to a Los Angeles hospital early this year after having a seizure from inhaling nitrous oxide. Moore did not publicly address the incident, although she did opt to seek medical attention for some health issues. Moore plans to seek “professional assistance to alleviate her tiredness and improve her general health,” according to a spokesman for the actress. She also dropped out of the film Lovelace, which was based on the life of famous porn star Linda Lovelace. Moore agreed to play activist Gloria Steinem.
TV, More Films and Memoir
Moore quickly returned to work, albeit outside of the spotlight. She appeared in Very Good Girls (2014), Forsaken (2015), and Wild Oats (2016), and she co-starred with Alec Baldwin in Blind (2016). Moore’s return to television in 2017 was equally well received, with a recurring part on season 4 of the popular Fox drama Empire.
Moore returned to the big screen with a supporting role in the dark comedy Rough Night (2017), followed by roles in the drama Love Sonia (2018) and the comedy-horror Corporate Animals (2019). She also prepped for another TV job by securing a part in the USA Network’s rendition of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Moore drew attention away from the film with the September 2019 release of her memoir, Inside Out, which dives into her difficult life, Hollywood career, and battles with substance abuse.