In the ’90s, Demi Moore had it all. She was married to hunky actor Bruce Willis. She had three beautiful daughters and an incredible film career. But little did everyone know that Demi was struggling and had been struggling for years. As time went on, the actress’s personal life seemed to dominate the headlines.
Soon, she became better known for her off-screen problems than she was for her acting skills. It got so bad that Demi found herself not on speaking terms with her family or friends. Scared and alone, the actress knew she needed to make some changes—and fast. From her tumultuous childhood to her turbulent marriages and relationships, we’re taking a look at the ’90s “It” girl, Demi Moore.
Some celeb names are so recognizable it’s hard to imagine them going by anything else. But those easy to pronounce, roll off your tongue kind of names are, more often than not, completely made up. For example, Gigi Hadid is actually Jelena Noura Hadid; Katy Perry is Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson; and Demi Moore is Demetria Gene Guynes.
According to a 2007 article printed by The Guardian, the actress’s mother chose the name Demetria after spotting it in an advertisement for shampoo while flipping through a magazine one day. Guynes was the last name of the man that Demi thought was her biological father (it turns out that her real father was a man by the name of Charles Harman).
Long before Demi found her place in Hollywood, the actress was just a young girl whose life was riddled with tragedy and hardship. Besides undergoing surgery to correct a lazy eye and being cured of debilitating kidney disease, Demi and her family moved more times than she could count. Her stepfather had a sales job that required him to move frequently.
This made it hard for Demi to find herself as a kid. “When you move every six months of your life, you are kind of a nothing who becomes each place you go,” Demi explained to Vanity Fair in 1991. “The only frame of reference I had was looking at people in the most unsophisticated way through magazines, TV, movies. Those people seemed to have something, seemed to be important.”
Demi and her family moved around at least once a year, every year until her mother and stepfather separated when the actress was 15 years old. Then, sadly, two years later, her stepfather took his own life. “I lived on my own then, so I was very distant, but I had to deal with it,” the star continued.
Demi also explained that she is no longer angry with her stepfather. “I accept and love him for whatever he needed to do.” It was around this time that Demi learned that Danny Guynes was not her biological father. Her biological dad was Charles Harman, a Texas vending machine salesman with a drug problem.
Demi had a tumultuous relationship with her mother, Virginia, whom she says was an alcoholic who would take her out to bars to get attention from men. When Demi was a child, her stepfather gave her the unimaginable task of helping him keep her mother from taking her own life.
Sadly, Demi had to save her mom’s life when she was only twelve years old. “Something very deep inside me shifted then, and it never shifted back,” Demi wrote in her 2019 memoir. “My childhood was over.” There were several other attempts over the years, but Demi says that first time was a “life-changing” moment, and her life was never the same again.
Demi dropped out of high school when she was 16 years old. “Since school wasn’t good for [my mother], she never impressed its importance on me,” Moore revealed to Vanity Fair. She continued, “Reaching my goal as fast as possible was more important.”
Demi’s goal was to become an actress, thanks to a 17-year-old German actress who lived in the same apartment building. According to Demi, the actress, Nastassia Kinski (who later went on to win a Golden Globe for her performance in the film Tess), didn’t read English very well.
To help Nastassia out, Demi would go over to the actress’s apartment and read scripts aloud for her. The ladies’ study sessions lasted for only a few months, but they were enough to give Demi a glimmer of hope.
Not only did she fall in love with the written word, but it was the first time Demi was around someone as confident as Nastassia. “She had a real strong sense of who she was,” the actress said in 1991. “I wanted to drink it in. I wanted to learn what it was she had.” Nastassia later moved apartments, and Demi never saw her again.
When Demi was 19 years old, she finally got her big break in General Hospital. But soon after her first appearance, Demi began abusing drugs and alcohol. “I don’t have an off switch. I don’t have the thing that says, ‘This is enough,'” the actress wrote in her 2019 memoir, Inside Out.
Then, in 1984, Demi landed the role of party girl Jules Van Patten in St. Elmo’s Fire. Before Demi began filming, both the producer and director insisted that the actress enter rehab, an act that she calls “a profound gift.” Demi committed to her sobriety for nearly twenty years.
The most beloved films of all time have scenes that audiences love to reenact. It’s safe to say that every ship has seen at least one couple pretending to fly like Jack and Rose in Titanic, every dance floor has seen an attempted Dirty Dancing lift, and every pottery class has a reenactment of the pottery scene in Ghost.
There’s no question that Demi and Patrick Swayze’s film is cemented in pop culture as a work of art. However, the actress later admitted to Jimmy Fallon that she never thought Ghost would be a success.
Well, we kind of understand where Demi is coming from. The plot is a bit iffy if you think about it. A ghost trying to communicate with his grieving girlfriend to protect her from danger?
When discussing her career with Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show in 2019, Demi recalled reading the Ghost script and thinking, “Okay, this is either going to be really good and interesting or an absolute disaster.” Lucky for Demi, Patrick, and the rest of the cast, the 1985 film is still a hit decades later.
The wage gap between men and women in Hollywood has become quite the topic of conversation in recent years (among several other problems—but don’t get us started on those). Perhaps one of the most infamous cases of gender inequality was when actress Michelle Williams received only $1,000 for her reshoots in the All the Money in the World reshoots.
However, her co-star Mark Wahlberg made $1.5 million in 2018. While today’s celebs are celebrated for speaking out and demanding equal compensation for their work, Demi was vilified for earning an equal paycheck at the height of her career.
The actress earned a whopping $12.5 million for her starring role in the 1996 film Striptease. Back then, that was the highest salary made by an actress in the history of Hollywood. But this big paycheck also earned the actress the nickname “gimme more.” However, Demi stood strong in her accomplishments.
“Why shouldn’t I? Why shouldn’t all women be paid equal to the quality of the work they’re doing?” she later told reporters. “Just treat me the same. No better, no worse.” Demi’s record-breaking paycheck inspired several other actresses, including Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts, to bump their asking rate.
The actress starred alongside actor Jon Cryer in the 1984 film No Small Affair. She described her relationship with the actor, writing, “Jon fell for me in real life, too, and lost his virginity to me while we were making that movie.”
Much to her regret, Demi says that she was “callous” with his feelings. “I stole what could have been such an important and beautiful moment from him,” she continued. Luckily for Demi, she doesn’t need to regret taking the Pretty in Pink actor’s virginity, because according to Cryer, she didn’t.
In 1980, Demi married musician Freddie Moore. She was only 18-years old at the time of the wedding and was still grieving the loss of her stepfather, Dany Guynes. “My dad died in October. I turned eighteen in November. I got married to Freddy the following February,” the Hollywood star wrote in 2019.
“It was obviously a confusing and fraught time.” According to Demi, that difficult time led to infidelity on her part. The night before marrying her first husband, she left her own bachelorette party to go home with a guy she had recently met.
The actress says that one of the only reasons why she was getting married in the first place was to distract herself from the fact that her father had just taken his own life. And when she didn’t feel better after tying the knot, Demi continued to cheat on her husband.
The actress eventually confessed to Freddy that she had been unfaithful several times throughout their marriage. Freddy was hurt, but he quickly moved on with one of his guitar students, who was 14 years younger than him. According to Demi, Freddy and his former student are still together today.
Demi was no stranger to controversy. Back in 1991, the actress appeared nude on the cover of Vanity Fair’s August issue. As the actress revealed to Jimmy Fallon in 2019, that photograph was never meant to be seen by millions of people.
The photo, which the famed Annie Leibovitz took, was originally meant only for Demi and her family. “While we were doing it, I was like, ‘Oh, God, it would be amazing if they had the courage to put this on the cover,'” Demi revealed. “They came back and said, ‘Hey, we’d like to do that. Are you okay with it?'”
The actress was excited, but a seven-month pregnant woman had never done anything like this before. As a result, Demi received tons of backlash for it. But she didn’t care at the time, and nor does she regret her decision today.
“To help women love themselves and their natural shapes — that’s a remarkable and gratifying thing to have accomplished, particularly for someone like me who spent years doing battle with her body,” Demi wrote in 2019. Several celebs have since posed nude while pregnant, but Demi’s cover will always be iconic.
While the actress bravely allowed Vanity Fair to print her nude, pregnant body, Demi wasn’t always that confident. In fact, even at the height of her career, the Hollywood starlet could barely look at herself in the mirror.
Those feelings of insecurity were made worse when the director of About Last Night told her to lose weight for the film. That’s when she began to view food as “kind of a punishment for everything [she] believed was wrong and dirty about [herself].” She became toxically obsessed with working out, which got worse after giving birth.
Considering that actor Bruce Willis and Demi are famously still close friends today, it makes sense that fans would believe that the two hit it off from the very start. However, according to the actress, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Bruce didn’t exactly make a good impression.
In fact, Demi thought that he was “cocky” and “dismissive” when they first met. “We both had deals with TriStar Pictures, so I said, ‘I hear you have the good office at TriStar,'” Demi wrote in 2019. “He replied with something short, like, ‘I’m never there.’ My impression was, he’s kind of a jerk.”
But Bruce was able to redeem himself at an afterparty, where, according to Demi, he was “much more solicitous.” Apparently, Bruce was extremely attentive the entire night. “I was stunned to find out later that he’d actually been on a date that night with another woman,” the actress wrote.
The two began dating almost immediately after that first night. And not long after, Demi and Bruce tied the knot during an impromptu trip to Las Vegas in 1987. The lovebirds had a wedding ceremony in front of a few friends in their suite at the Golden Nugget hotel.
Apparently, Bruce’s proposal was a complete surprise to Demi, especially since the two had only been dating for four months. “We were moving to the gambling tables when Bruce said, ‘I think we should get married,'” Demi wrote in her 2019 memoir. “We’d been joking about it on the flight there, but suddenly it didn’t seem like he was kidding.”
A few months after their impromptu Vegas wedding, the couple had another ceremony. This time, it was a glamorous affair in front of their famous Hollywood friends. Little Richard officiated the ceremony, and Leibovitz was the photographer.
Demi reportedly became pregnant with the couple’s first child, daughter Rumer Willis, on the night of their Vegas wedding. “We had a whirlwind, truncated infatuation that morphed into a full-on family, all in our very first year,” the actress recalled in her memoir.
“When reality set in, I don’t know if we really knew each other.” Following their daughter’s birth in 1988, the family of three moved to rural Idaho so Rumor could grow up outside of Hollywood. The couple later welcomed two more daughters: Scout in 1991 and Tallulah in 1994.
While it made sense for the couple to raise their kids outside of Hollywood, Demi and Bruce were still A-list actors at the height of their careers. Bruce went on to film Twelve Monkeys, Pulp Fiction, and two more Die Hard movies, while Demi brought in the big bucks with Ghost, A Few Good Men, and Indecent Proposal.
The two regularly traveled between Idaho and California, and, with three little kids at home, their marriage began to suffer. But despite the tensions at home, Bruce and Demi were still considered Hollywood’s golden couple.
Rumors of infidelity on Bruce’s part began swirling around Hollywood’s “It” couple. Even more, eyebrows were raised after the actor’s 1996 interview with Playboy magazine revealed what he really thought about monogamy. “No woman is going to satisfy a man’s natural impulse to procreate, procreate, procreate.”
“The impulse doesn’t go away because you have three or ten or a hundred kids,” Bruce admitted. “We try hard, but we’re animals. We’re just donkeys walking up to the trough for food and wanting to f*** everything we see because of this unconscious agenda.”
Demi later explained that Bruce craved the novelty and excitement that came with being a famous Hollywood actor. While neither party has outrightly admitted to the press that Bruce cheated, Demi has alluded to the allegations. “He was 36, throw in celebrity and money. You do the math,” she later wrote.
But the cheating allegations weren’t the only thing that rocked the couple. According to a 2019 article in The New York Times, Bruce was “ambivalent” about Demi’s work as an A-list actress. She wanted to work, but he wanted her to stay home with the kids.
In fact, Demi says that after the success of the 1990 film Ghost, Bruce told her that he didn’t want to be married to her anymore. It’s not that he wasn’t proud of his wife’s work because he was. Demi believes that Bruce “was uncomfortable with the attention that came with it.”
Even though Bruce didn’t want to be married, as well as Demi’s (and the press’s) suspicion that he was cheating on her, the couple remained together until 1998. Their divorce was finalized in 2000.
According to reports, the couple announced their separation in June 1998, although they had been living separately for quite some time. In a 2000 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Bruce explained that their already unstable marriage problems were made even worse because the two actors were famous.
“People grow at different rates. People change at different rates,” the actor explained. “It’s difficult for any couple to keep their marriage intact under the best of circumstances, and our marriage was under a huge magnifying glass all the time.”
After the couple’s separation and eventual divorce, Demi retreated from the Hollywood spotlight so she could focus on raising her three young daughters. While many other celebrities (or any couple for that matter) have a hard time co-parenting after a divorce, Demi and Bruce were able to make it happen. “It’s a funny thing to say, but I’m very proud of our divorce,” Demi revealed years later.
“I think Bruce was fearful at the beginning that I was going to make our split difficult and that I would express my anger and whatever baggage that I had from our marriage by obstructing his access to the kids.”
But Demi didn’t do that, and neither did Bruce. The actress admits that it wasn’t easy at first, but the couple was able to put aside their differences and successfully raise their kids together. This meant joint holidays and vacations, even after Bruce and Demi moved on.
It was and still is important for the couple to give their daughters a “loving and supportive environment with both parents.” The former couple also admits that they actually get along better now than they did when they were married. “We felt more connected than we did before the divorce,” Demi later told reporters.
Bruce later moved on with model Emma Heming, while Demi thought she found everlasting love with Ashton Kutcher. But, as we all know, that relationship wasn’t meant to last. The two first met in 2003 at a mutual friend’s dinner party in New York City.
40-year-old Demi was in the middle of a press tour for her comeback film, Charlie’s Angeles: Full Throttle, while 25-year-old Ashton was hosting Saturday Night Live. Despite their massive age gap, the two had an instant connection. They chatted throughout the entire dinner and continued the evening back at Demi’s apartment.
And no, they did not sleep together. Well, at least that’s what Demi says. The two spoke all night until they eventually fell asleep. Demi was fully aware of what the public thought about their age gap, but she says that age wasn’t an issue at the beginning of their relationship.
“He was 25. I was 40. But I’m telling you: We couldn’t feel it. We were totally in sync from our very first conversation,” she wrote in Inside Out. In fact, Demi had fun dating someone who was 15 years her junior.
“When I met Ashton, it almost felt like a do-over, like I could just go back in time and experience what it was like to be young, with him,” the actress continued, “much more so than I’d ever been able to experience it when I was actually in my twenties.”
The lovebirds soon went public, and the press focused on their 15-year age gap. As the couple grew closer, Ashton became a pseudo-dad for Demi’s three daughters. They often referred to their mother’s boyfriend as “MOD,” which stood for “My Other Dad.”
So, it was no surprise that Ashton popped the question while the two were taking a stroll on the beach. “Talk about meeting your soul mate,” the actress told Harper’s Bazaar before the wedding. “I truly feel I have been given that gift.”
The pair tied the knot in a Kabbalah ceremony in September 2005 at their mansion in Beverly Hills. Among the 100 guests in attendance was Demi’s ex-husband, Bruce. According to The New York Times and her 2019 memoir, Demi was actually six weeks pregnant with a baby girl when Ashton proposed.
Demi planned on naming the baby Chaplin Ray. But when Demi reached the sixth month of her pregnancy, she had a miscarriage and sadly lost the baby. The couple tried to get pregnant again, but nothing seemed to work. “I can’t even really bring fully to words how lost, empty, desperate, confused [I was].”
Demi told Good Morning America in 2019. “I really lost sight of everything that was in front of me.” The actress also added that the miscarriage and several failed pregnancy attempts weren’t the only problems in the couple’s marriage.
According to her memoir, Demi says that Ashton repeatedly asked her to engage in group sex—which she obliged on two occasions. “I put him first, so when he expressed his fantasy of bringing a third person into our bed, I didn’t say no,” the actress wrote in 2019.
“I wanted to show him how great and fun I could be.” While Demi says that the two girls were great people, she instantly became overwhelmed with guilt and shame. Then, in 2010, Demi claimed that her third husband cheated on her with a 21-year-old named Britney Jones.
Apparently, the two first met while Ashton was out bowling with Demi’s eldest daughter, Rumer. However, that wasn’t the only time Demi believes Ashton cheated on her. The second time, which Demi found out from a Google alert, was with 22-year-old Sara Leal.
The young girl did a tell-all interview explaining her affair with Ashton. “I asked if it were true, and he admitted it right away, and I think my response was, “Are you f**king kidding me?” Demi said on Good Morning America. “I think I felt like I could barely take a breath.”
In November 2011, and after six years of marriage, Ashton and Demi went their separate ways. “As a woman, a mother, and a wife, there are certain values and vows that I hold sacred, and it is in this spirit that I have chosen to move forward with my life,” the actress’s statement read in part.
Ashton also followed his ex-wife’s statement with a Tweet that expressed his love for his ex-wife but that sometimes marriages fail. The couple’s divorce was finalized in 2013, and we all know Ashton moved on with his former That ’70s Show co-star, Mila Kunis.
As it turns out, Demi, who had been nearly twenty years sober, relapsed while she was married to Ashton. “It was like the sun went down and a monster came, you know?” Demi’s youngest daughter Tallulah said at a Red Table Talk. “I recall being very upset and kind of treating her like a child and speaking to her like a child.”
“Being like, please get away from me… It was not the mom that we had grown up with.” The actress’s struggle with substance abuse caused a significant rift between her and her daughters, which was only made worse when Demi tried to get pregnant.
Tallulah was angry with her mother. “It was like, ‘Oh, we’re not enough?'” During her substance abuse struggles, Demi’s daughters didn’t speak to her for three years. But as time went on and they grew older, Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah realized just how badly their mother was struggling.
But it wasn’t until Demi collapsed at a party that she realized she needed help. “I guess the fundamental question that came forward for me was, ‘How did I get here?'” the actress wrote in 2019. “I mean, from where I started to what I’ve experienced, where I’ve been, like, how did I get here?”
Thankfully, Demi got the help she needed, and her daughters are back in her life. She decided to write her memoir as a way to find herself. It was also important to the actress that fans see her for herself. “It’s exciting, and yet I feel very vulnerable,” she told The New York Times.
“There is no cover of a character. It’s not somebody else’s interpretation of me.” Today, Demi is on excellent terms with her family, including her ex-husband Bruce and his wife and kids. The two families even quarantined together in Idaho.