Demi Moore: More, More, Moore
Post-Ghost, Demi Moore was on track to become the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. She pursued fame and courted controversy with attention-grabbing magazine covers and a reputation for being a capital-D diva. Among Moore’s many magazine covers was the January/February 1993 issue of Movieline – the publication’s annual “sex” issue. Moore was promoting A Few Good Men and filming Indecent Proposal at the time of the interview. In addition to her career, Moore discussed her public image and her marriage to Bruce Willis.
Demi Moore, swathed in silk, sits draped on a couch in her trailer on the Paramount lot. Although she’s between shots on Adrian Lyne’s new movie, Indecent Proposal, she’s as vivid and present and here with me as if she’d just awoke from an 18-hour nap. There’s plenty on her mind at the moment, including not just this movie, in which she and Woody Harrelson play financially strapped marrieds offered $1 million by Robert Redford if Moore will spend a night with him, but also her current release, A Few Good Men, Rob Reiner’s movie version of the Broadway hit in which she and Tom Cruise are lawyers investigating a military murder cover-up that involves Jack Nicholson. If Ghost ($500 million worldwide, at last count) had positioned Moore to ascend to the rarified ranks inhabited only by Julia Roberts, Geena Davis and Sharon Stone, these two new movies–after the anticlimax of The Butcher’s Wife–bid fair to put her precisely where she belongs. Which means that the girl who is, arguably, the most beautiful in town and certainly the savviest at manipulating publicity, could one day rival the Toms, Kevins and Arnolds of this world.
Born in New Mexico to teenage parents, Moore survived a tumultuous, nomadic childhood to shine through a stint on the TV soap “General Hospital,” and in such better-left-forgotten movies as Choices, Parasite and Blame It On Rio. During her Brat-Pack era, marked by such emblematic epics as St. Elmo’s Fire, About Last Night . . . and Wisdom, Moore detoured into fast-lane Hollywood excesses that nearly snuffed her promise. Just as quickly, she came to, cleaned up, marshaled her resources, and promoted some standout reviews into a deal at TriStar, which birthed only The Seventh Sign, a would-be Rosemary’s Baby for the ’80s. If that one lost her points because she wasn’t ready to carry solo the weight of a bad script and clueless direction, We’re No Angels gained her points because she almost withstood the sheer dead weight of Robert De Niro and Sean Penn congratulating themselves on how side-splitting they weren’t.
Critics and audiences forgave her everything with Ghost, and, overnight, she became a “household name” by appearing nude and pregnant on a magazine cover with her second child by husband Bruce Willis. However, the inevitable backlash set in: word went out that Moore does not suffer fools gladly, that she’s been accused of terminal entouragitis, that she’s the most image-wise actress now plying her trade. Ironically, much of this chatter got started by another magazine story–same magazine–when she appeared nude and painted on the cover.
I expected steel from Moore. Self-enchantment. The gosh-I-wish-I-didn’t-have-to-do-this blah-blah. I get the steel, all right, but much more. Greeting me with a friendly handshake and a glacier-melting smile, she spends hours with me being open, frisky, thoughtful and passionate. When the demands of shooting Indecent Proposal while publicizing A Few Good Men cramp our style, Moore simply barrels me with her down onto the set, which Paramount has declared strictly off-limits to the press. Her response? “Fuck ’em,” she growls, introducing me to Lyne, her Indecent Proposal director. “Hello, darling,” he chirps. “Remember, whatever mess you see here, it’ll all come out in the wash.” Later, when studio publicists get wind of her indiscretion and materialize on the set, Moore apologizes to all concerned with abject sincerity.
“I only want,” she tells me again and again, “everything.” If Moore chooses right–she has a deal these days at Columbia– this 30-year-old, who masterfully reinvents her looks and her style from movie to movie, even from cover to cover, may reinvent for the movie-star-starved ’90s the real thing.
STEPHEN REBELLO: How would you assess your position in the business right this second?
DEMI MOORE: That’s tough. I’m probably in a better position than I’ve ever been thus far, okay? I think people in the business are certainly interested in doing business with me.
Q: You’re coming off what could turn out to be quite a one-two punch. In Indecent Proposal you’re the married woman to whom Robert Redford pays $1 million for a night of bliss and right now, you’re on-screen as a driven, tough military lawyer in A Few Good Men, where you co-star with Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise.
A: I have no idea why, but I feel really critical of my performance in that movie, maybe because I really wanted to be great in it.
Q: Does it have anything to do with the company you kept?
A: I so respect Rob Reiner as a director that I really wanted to be good for him. Tom was already set for the part when I came into it. I was seven-and-a-half months pregnant and my agent, who’s also Tom’s agent, said, “Here’s this project.” Rob had been meeting people for the part and had everybody in to read for him. I read the script but I had questions about it. Then, I read the play and realized that some of the things I questioned had been taken out. I wanted to be kind of delicate because I was getting this reputation for being kind of …
Q: Ummm, assertive?
A: [Laughing] That’s a nice way of putting it. Assertive. So, I auditioned for Rob. I went in and had to do this scene with Tom, whom I’ve known for a long time, and it was funny because I had to be this straight, uptight, military lawyer. I had this whole physical redo and had to get really tough. Rob was actually scared because he’d heard all these rumors about me. He actually called two or three directors that I’ve worked with. I’m glad to say most, if not all, of his concerns were dispelled. So, I went and had my baby and came back to join the group.
Q: Lots of people these days have been accusing you of indulging yourself in high diva behavior. Entourages, demands about the size and location of your trailer, arguments about scripts, direction . . .
A: Steve, look around, this is nice but is it a palace? Even though other people say that they don’t think I came off that way in the recent Vanity Fair article . . . well, [writer Jennet Conant] wrote that I was smart, which is the only way that she could say that I was basically a bitch. Look, right now, the way I am with you is pretty much how I am.
Q: So you’re not a diva?
A: I don’t think so, but it would be fun to play one. My basic perception of how things have to work to get things done is: group effort. Everybody that works with me is part of my team. It isn’t about catering to my needs, my whims. It’s about the best idea winning in the end. I know that you already know that on Indecent Proposal, Adrian Lyne and I started off very rough.
Q: How rough?
A: He and I had friction over my constant need to fight to make my character smarter, to show her more in control of the decisions that are made. I don’t want to say that Adrian’s chauvinistic, but he has a more traditional sense of women. We actually laugh about it now, but there was a scene where I wanted to keep my clothes on, and I told him, “They don’t have to see my breasts in every shot, do they?” I don’t know if he means to be offensive to women, I just think it’s how, out of his passion, he romanticizes them. We’d literally be talking, loudly sometimes, about the same thing. It’s worked out, we have a tremendous affection. I can only try as much as I can to portray this character as being as well-grounded as I hope she’ll be, but, in the end, I’m at the mercy of how Adrian cuts it together. Anyway, going back to your original “diva” question, I don’t see working with me as just a matter of my just showing up. Or that everyone else is expendable. I value everybody that I have here, particularly in my insular group. Everybody that I’ve worked with, I’ve worked with for a long time.
Q: “Everybody” would be how many?
A: I have one, my assistant, who is here with me. At my production company, I have employees, as anybody does. The studio, as happens when you’re making any movie, has their people, and I have hair, makeup, a driver.
Q: So this is the infamous entourage?
A: Right. I go to and from the set with a driver. The production company hires people to watch my hair, my wardrobe, but if you want to know the person I’m paying, it’s my assistant. Oh, and on Indecent Proposal, Woody [Harrelson] and I, as a gift to the crew, pay for a masseuse, who is available to all of us.
Q: So, does Bruce Willis have, like, 22 assistants?
A: My makeup man on this film was also on my last movie and he read the same article and asked, “Well, where were they? We could have used them.” It’s ludicrous. We have one motor-home driver out there and Bruce has an assistant, and, of course, hair and makeup people on a movie. That’s it. Even if we computed all the employees in his company and mine, it wouldn’t equal 22. We’d have to round up, like, our gardener, our pool man.
Q: What about bodyguards?
A: That was misconstrued in Vanity Fair. They got a little dramatic. [The writer] has created new boundaries for me, which is unfortunate because I don’t like to hide. Even less so than Bruce or many other people in this industry. What that writer didn’t want to put into her article is why these people sometimes have to be in my life. When you get calls from your agent saying, “We just received a call from a mental institution. A man there is telling them he wants to kill you. He’s having delusions, we don’t know whether he’s on narcotics, we don’t even know if he’s given us the right address,” wouldn’t you do something? Then, you know, he’s been released but the address he had given as his home address isn’t even a real one. Or you get weird letters or people show up at your house, thinking your husband is the character that they’ve seen in a movie. It would be stupid not to protect myself when situations like that arise and when the media continues to print how much my husband makes. If something ever happened, God forbid, I would just feel stupid not to have protected all of us to the best of my ability.
Q: Do you think your “reputation” got spikier once you and Bruce got married?
A: Yeah, I think so. It’s a lot easier to say shitty things than to make me out to be a regular kind of girl or a nice person. People see it as more juicy.
Q: Can you go out and, say, buy a toaster without a fuss being made over you?
A: Lots of times, people have no idea that I’m anybody but my kids’ mother. I’ve had situations in a restaurant where I’ll go [does a sexy movie star voice], “Hi, how ya doin’?” and the waiter just looks at me like I’m crazy and says, “Yeeesssss?” I have this joke among my friends that I’m gonna get a great cleft chin and a glamorous mole to make sure this doesn’t ever happen again. Oh, here’s a funny story. When I went for the first time to Planet Hollywood [the Manhattan restaurant that Bruce Willis co-owns], I called ahead and went with a bunch of girlfriends. It was very late by the time we got there and I said, “Can we sit down?” and the guy said, “We’re closed.” I said, “Oh, well, can we just get a drink and sit at a table?” and he said, “The only thing open is the bar.” I said, “Well, can we just look around at the memorabilia?” and he said, “You can just get your drink at the bar.” We went looking around and all of a sudden the guy looked at me again and beat, beat, BEAT, then he walked over to us, white-faced, saying, “You can sit down at a table.”
Q: So, there are advantages to being a movie star?
A: Why don’t you define “movie star”?
Q: Someone who so intrigues and entertains people, they sell tickets because they’re in a movie.
A: Then I wonder if I’m really there yet. The kind of stardom you’re defining is exciting because it’s a throwback to what it really used to be. In the ’30s or ’40s, you really had to qualify. You could just say “movie star” and it was immediately accepted that they were actors who sold tickets. The way most people define it today–somebody you may like to look at once in a while, who isn’t necessarily talented–wouldn’t be interesting to me.
Q: The more I see your movies and your carefully planned magazine covers, the more I think: “This girl ought to be teaching Movie Career Management 101.” For our cover, for your best-selling Vanity Fair covers, you came in with detailed, specific concepts for the mood, the look you wanted to convey.
A: [Laughing] Who have you been talking to? Part of it is just to entertain myself because it’s stuff I have to do. Magazines and interviews are something you have to do because you need it for your movie. It’s a lot more interesting for me to decide to portray various versions of myself than to just show up and say, “Okay, I’m just gonna be me.” I’m uncomfortable with that, to tell you the truth.