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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

(continued from page 1)

The films in which she has starred—they include Ghost, St. Elmo's Fire, A Few Good Men, Indecent Proposal, Disclosure, The Scarlet Letter, Striptease (for which she was paid $12.5 million, a record for an actress) and Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (in which she is the voice of Esmeralda)—have grossed more than a billion dollars. That's right, billion with a "b." She has earned more than $21 million in the last two years, making her the only film actress on the Forbes magazine compendium of the highest-paid performers.

Moore has been sometimes lauded and more often vilified by the celebrity-hungry mass media, praised for the highly popular movie Ghost, roundly criticized for baring her breasts in Striptease. She has been condemned for posing nude and pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair and for daring to call President Bill Clinton to try to get Pentagon support for the Navy SEAL movie. (She managed only to speak to a presidential aide, and the Pentagon turned her and her producers down because there are no women SEALs, so the movie is being made without official assistance.) Her almost nine-year marriage to Bruce Willis, and the birth of their three daughters, have been frequent if not constant subjects of speculation and fabrication in the headlines of perhaps every tabloid on the face of the earth.

And yet, to Moore, it is all part of that "territory." She is, for a movie star, refreshingly direct: her magnetic green eyes immediately engage rather than avoid. Later, in her trailer, she will talk of her career, the press, the publicity—good and bad—her technique as an actress, her marriage, her children, her own troubled childhood, her hopes for the future—and her love of cigars. She will unhesitatingly speak her mind.

Criticism of nudity? "You wouldn't limit a man that way." The controversy over Striptease? "They're already making a big stink over the poster, which is nothing more than a pantyhose ad. Yet because it's me it seems to be a big deal."

Evasion is a word Moore seems never to have learned—usually to her benefit, but sometimes to her detriment. Her attitude toward life is to march right ahead, do the best she can and let the chips fall. What others may think is not her concern. Is she the stereotypical, traditional girl next door? Of course not. But is she a highly successful, highly competent, driven and ambitious but ultimately decent and caring professional woman? Yes.

The renowned British actress Joan Plowright, Moore's co-star in The Scarlet Letter, once put it this way: "Demi uses what she's got and puts it in the marketplace. She has an honesty, truthfulness and straightforwardness that is very, very attractive." With Moore, what you see—and sometimes you see a great deal—is what you get.

Much of what you get consists of dedication, determination and devotion. She is into building and maintaining her body beautiful, and she works out frequently with her personal trainer, himself a state-of-the-art specimen of what years of weightlifting and cardiovascular exercise can accomplish. After arriving on the set at 7:45 a.m. and working on the movie constantly until 1, she will use her lunchtime not to rest in her trailer but to go for a 40-minute run—in the 90-degree Florida sun—her trainer at her side.

Demi moore portrait

But while she certainly places great value in her trim, well-toned physique, she seems to have the proper perspective. Talking to a crew member between takes, she will glance down at her abdomen and laughingly point to the "loose skin." "Loose skin," she says. "It's from the baby. But it was worth it."

She also, from most accounts, does not behave on set like a spoiled diva, a grown-up member of the brat pack. The massager, for instance, who was busy kneading her shoulders outside the barracks is not for Moore alone. Moore makes a point, on all her films, of providing free massages for all crew members. "They work so hard and don't get paid a lot," she says. "It's a little fringe benefit that means something." Then there is this unsolicited comment from a female crew member upon finding out that a visitor was on the base to write a profile of the star: "She is generous and gracious of spirit. She is never rude, and she is a pleasure to work for. I've worked with many actresses, and she is the best. She's special."

Moore is relaxing in her trailer after a long day. She is showered, fresh; the blood-and-grime makeup has been removed, her glamorous cheekbones and prominent chin are sparkling clean. She has changed to jeans and a tight white T-shirt. Bright silver earrings dangle from her fully exposed, somewhat pointy ears, and the five-o'clock shadow that is her temporary coiffure seems somewhat neater, more in place. With or without hair, she exudes unalloyed eroticism—the healthy kind, natural, totally unforced.

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