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No Apologies No Regrets

From the roles she plays to the cigars she smokes, actress Demi Moore makes her own choices.
Mervyn Rothstein
From the Print Edition:
Demi Moore, Autumn 96

As Cigar Aficionado magazine approaches 20 years in print, we are taking a look back at some of the most memorable stories we have published over the years. In this step back into our vaults, we go to 1996 when we profiled cigar-smoking actress Demi Moore.

It's raining—a Florida rain, warm and steady. Moisture fills every pore. The clouds are dark and somber, the palms more gray than green. A mass of army barracks, low, black, ugly; a platoon of trailers, a stolid pack of long grim trucks. A sprinkling of bright blue tents, like pushpins on a corkboard chart. Men and women, in shorts and jeans, shelter under a canopy, gather around a food cart, load equipment on a truck.

Near the barracks, a congregation of movie lights, shining bright yellow through opaque windows. In front, a small group, clustered in blue director's chairs under a protective canvas, talking, glancing now and then at two Sony monitors, black and white images from inside the barracks: a cameraman lights a set, a stand-in stands in for the star.

In a chair, a figure in combat fatigues, standard khaki issue, the name "O'NEIL" in black stenciled over the left pocket. A soldier, lean and powerful, black hair mowed to a standard military crewcut, and then some, a dark stubble outlining a head distinctly ovoid. A left cheek painted with dirt and blood—more than smudged, a victim of training more than basic. Behind the chair, a woman; her hands, in firm round strokes, massage the soldier's neck and back. The soldier holds a cigar.

"It's a Cuban Montecristo Joyita," the soldier says, taking a long, pleasurable puff. The voice is assertively strong—and distinctly feminine. "I prefer the panatelas, though I've tried the Montecristo No. 2, the torpedo. It's a little big for me but I like it." The name on the back of the chair: DEMI MOORE.

Demi Moore? The sexy, glamorous, provocative, cigar smoking film star, the highest-paid actress in movie history, dressed in combat gear, her alluring jet-black tresses shorn practically to their roots, her face and figure similarly bereft of the glamour that has adorned movie screens and magazine covers, gossip columns and celebrity TV shows, for more than a decade?

Yes, Demi Moore.

Demi moore portrait.

The time is mid-June, the scene Camp Blanding, a National Guard base in the Florida countryside an hour or so south of Jacksonville. It's the location du jour for Moore's next movie, titled G.I. Jane, in which she plays a Navy lieutenant, Jordan O'Neil, who opts for training as the first female Navy SEAL—or Special Forces frogperson—and undergoes an ordeal at the hands of those in the military who feel that combat training is not woman's work. Moore is a co-producer of the film; her director is Ridley Scott, whose credits include Thelma and Louise, Alien and Blade Runner.

The hair—or lack of it—doesn't faze Moore one bit. It simply "goes with the territory," she says, "of doing whatever's necessary to make the role realistic," to make an audience believe she is the character up there on the big screen. The cigars are also part of the territory. Moore has been smoking them for seven years, and, she says, "this has become a big cigar smoking set. There's always a Cuban cigar in some crew member's mouth, and Ridley always has a Montecristo No. 2 in his hand."

But for Demi Moore, there's much, much more that "goes with the territory" of being a highly publicized, highly visible and highly paid celebrity in the world of American cinema.

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