Actress, producer. Born Demetria Gene Guynes, on November 11, 1962, in Roswell, New Mexico. Raised in a poor family that was constantly on the move, Demi never knew her real father, whom her mother, Virginia, left months before Demi was born; she instead grew up believing that her stepfather, Danny Guynes, was her biological dad. As a teenager, she was shocked to learn the truth about Danny Guynes, and was also faced with the tragedy of his suicide several years later.
The family was living in West Hollywood in 1978, when Demi dropped out of school at age 16 to pursue a modeling career. In 1981, she married Freddy Moore, a rock musician. Their marriage lasted only two years, but in that time Demi Moore launched her acting career, beating out a thousand other hopefuls to win a role on the daytime soap opera General Hospital in 1982. She made several forgettable films (including 1982’s Parasite) during her tenure on the popular soap but left the show when she won a supporting role in Blame it on Rio (1984), starring Michael Caine.
By the time Moore got her first major film role in 1984, as a vivacious young cocaine addict in St. Elmo’s Fire, she herself was battling a serious drug addiction. The film’s director, Joel Schumacher, threatened to fire her if she didn’t clean up her act, and Moore quit using drugs during the filming. When St. Elmo’s Fire was released, it became one of the quintessential movies of the eighties, and its attractive young cast—including Moore, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, and Ally Sheedy—became known as the “Brat Pack.” Moore starred in a few other, less successful movies during the next several years, including About Last Night… (1986), Wisdom (1986), and We’re No Angels (1989), starring Robert De Niro and Sean Penn.
Moore’s three-year relationship and on-again, off-again engagement with Estevez, begun during the filming of St. Elmo’s Fire, ended in 1987. Shortly thereafter, Moore met actor Bruce Willis, then the charming star of TV’s Moonlighting. After a whirlwind three-month courtship, Moore and Willis were married in November 1987.
Less than three years later, both Moore and Willis had made the leap to A-list Hollywood stardom—Willis with his role as the wisecracking cop in the blockbuster action film Die Hard (1988) and Moore with the smashing success of Ghost (1990), a weepy supernatural romantic drama costarring Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg. In 1991, however, Moore released three straight box office and critical flops, including Nothing But Trouble, The Butcher’s Wife, and Mortal Thoughts, costarring Willis. She also provoked a flurry of controversy by posing nude for the August 1991 cover of Vanity Fair while seven months pregnant. (She posed nude a second time for the magazine’s cover in 1992, this time done up in full body paint and showcasing a newly sculpted physique.)
Over the next several years, Moore scored three straight box office hits, beginning with the 1992 military courtroom drama A Few Good Men, costarring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. In 1993, she played the object of affection of a wealthy businessman, played by Robert Redford, who offers to pay Moore’s character and her boyfriend (Woody Harrelson) a cool $1 million for one night with her. The next year, Moore turned the tables on the hot issue of sexual harassment in the workplace with her portrayal of a sexually aggressive business executive who torments her ex-lover and colleague, played by Michael Douglas.
The tide turned in 1995, however, as Moore’s next several projects met with a harsh reception from critics and audiences alike. Both her high-profile film version of the classic novel The Scarlett Letter (1995) and her legal thriller The Juror (1996) were panned. Though her $12.5 million paycheck for 1996’s Striptease was the highest salary ever paid an actress for a single movie at that time, the film was a disappointment. Moore received slightly better reviews for her starring turn as a bald-headed Navy SEAL in Ridley Scott’s bid-budget action film G.I. Jane (1997), but the project failed to find the commercial success of her past hits. She had more luck as a producer, working on 1995’s Now and Then (in which she played a small role), the 1996 cable television special If These Walls Could Talk, and two extremely successful Austin Powers movies, starring Mike Myers as a super-groovy secret agent.
In 1999, Moore signed a production deal with the prestigious Miramax Films. The next year, she played dual roles in the romantic thriller Passion of Mind, her first acting project since 1997. The film met with a mediocre reception.
As the 1990s came to an end, the always-controversial Moore faced upheaval in two different areas of her personal life. Her mother, Virginia, from whom she had been bitterly estranged for the last five years, died of cancer in July 1998. Moore had reconciled with her mother shortly before her death, and was at her side when she died. In June 1998, Moore and Willis announced their separation after almost 11 years of marriage. Though they remained legally married for the next two years, even spending time together with their three daughters, Rumer Glenn, Scout Larue, and Tallulah Belle, at their luxurious home in the small town of Hailey, Idaho, the marriage was effectively over.
In 1999, the ex-couple, along with fellow investors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, were forced to file for bankruptcy protection for their restaurant chain, Planet Hollywood. Moore and Willis were formally divorced in the fall of 2000; she will continue to live on the couple’s property in Hailey with her daughters, while he lives nearby. Moore is currently dating the martial arts instructor Oliver Whitcomb.