What the Hell Happened to Demi Moore?
Demi Moore was launched to stardom along with the rest of the Brat Pack. But while her colleagues’ careers were cooling in the 90’s, Moore’s star kept rising. By the middle of the decade, Moore was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. But soon after her career peaked, Moore walked away from it all to focus on her personal life. So, what the hell happened?
Demi Moore came from humble beginnings. Her parents separated before she was born – a fact she did not discover until she was 13. She was cross-eyed as a child and also suffered from a kidney dysfunction. When Moore was 15, her mother left her husband and moved to Hollywood to work for a magazine-distribution company. Two years later, Moore’s adopted father took his life.
At the age of 16, Moore moved out on her own. She dropped out of high school during her junior year to pursue a career in entertainment. Three weeks before her 17th birthday, she met rock musician, Freddy Moore who was married to another woman. Six months later, at the age of 17, Demi was married.
Around this time, she lied about her age in order to pose for the cover of the adult magazine, Oui. She paid her dues in some low budget films before nabbing a regular paycheck on the soap opera, General Hospital from 1982-1983.
All of this was pre-Brat Pack.
Moore’s first major role came in the 1984 comedy, Blame it On Rio. Moore played Michael Cain’s daughter on a family getaway. As this is a remake of a French farce, sexual high-jinks ensue between Cain and his best friend’s daughter. Blame It On Rio bombed at the box office which can probably be blamed on the terrible reviews it received.
Later that year, Moore starred opposite Jon Cryer in the comedy/drama, No Small Affair.
Cryer played a 16-year old photographer who gets swept up with a 22-year-old singer played by Moore. Moore’s character is your run of the mill manic pixie dream girl getting Cryer’s character into trouble so he can learn important life lessons.
At one point in the movie, Cryer and Moore pass a billboard featuring Diana Ross. Moore’s character comments on how Diana only needs one name, “Diana”. She wonders allowed if that will ever happen to her. While her character does gain some measure of fame by the end of the movie, Moore may as well have been talking about herself. One day, she would be known as “Demi”.
In 1985, Moore officially joined the Brat Pack with St. Elmo’s Fire.
St. Elmo’s Fire had the good fortune to come out just four month’s after John Hughes’ similarly themed high school coming-of-age drama, The Breakfast Club. Although the two films are not linked in any meaningful way, St. Elmo’s Fire was regarded as a kind of follow-up film. It was another ensemble coming-of-age film this time focusing on recent college graduates.
While The Breakfast Club received positive reviews, St. Elmo’s Fire received mixed to negative reviews. But riding the wave of the Brat Pack movement, it was a box office hit all the same. Although I have never sat through the film all the way through, I can feel St. Elmo’s fire burning in me.
(If you’re a Gen X-er, that song is now stuck in your head. Sorry about that.)
Before I move on, let’s pause a second and explain the Brat Pack to those who are too young to remember it. Because the truth is, they haven’t had anything quite like it. In the mid-80’s, coming-of-age comedies and dramas were quite popular. These films prominently featured a group of young actors and actresses.
Some members of the Brat Pack are open for debate. But if you appeared in either The Breakfast Club or St Elmo’s Fire, you were either a member of the Brat Pack or you were Mare Winningham.
For the most part, the Brat Pack had a short reign over Hollywood. The label adversely affected their careers. Many struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. But while Anthony Michael Hall and Molly Ringwald saw their careers fizzle, Moore only grew more popular.
In 1986, Moore starred in no less than three films! The first was “About Last Night…” a romantic comedy/drama based on the David Mamet play Sexual Perversity in Chicago.
Moore starred opposite Rob Lowe as a couple whose relationship starts as a one-night stand. Elizabeth Perkins and Jim Belushi co-starred back before Jim Belushi’s name was code for “do not watch this”.
“About Last Night…” received mostly positive reviews and was a modest hit at the box office. More importantly, it showed the Moore was capable of doing more adult roles than the typical John Hughes movie.
Moore’s next film was the zany John Cusack movie, One Crazy Summer.
One Crazy Summer was the follow-up to director Savage Steve Holland’s Better Off Dead. Both films received mixed reviews at the time of their release. But their zaniness set them apart from a lot of other 80’s teen comedies and they have developed a small cult following.
Moore’s last film of 1986 was the ironically titled Wisdom.
Wisdom was a crime drama written, directed, and starring the multi-talented Emelio Estevez. Moore and Estevez were engaged at the time, so her presence in Wisdom is somewhat excusable.
How bad is Wisdom? (Spoiler Alert: Turns out it was all just a dream.) Wisdom was an embarrassing bomb both critically and commercially. Fortunately for Moore, as writer, director and star, Estevez took the blame for it.