Serial Extract

Sunday Mail, 1 October 2000


Demi Moore is both a film star and a caricature of a film star. She is Gimme Moore, the hard-to-please prima donna who ruled Hollywood and indulged in a life of excess.

She was the richest, most talked about, most powerful actress in Hollywood who effortlessly substituted ruthless ambition for what she lacked in natural talent. She appeared naked and pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair. She was one of the founders of the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain. She was the first woman to command $8.5 million a movie.

She and husband, Die Hard star Bruce Willis, bought up a town in Idaho and turned it into a bizarre personal empire where the people live in fear of their power. Demi now split from Willis, is a tycoon in her own right. She produced the Austin Powers hit movies – and although her acting career has slumped, her desire for control has not waned. The girl from the wrong side of the tracks is too tough to ever give in. Here in an extract from a new biography “The Most Powerful Woman in Hollywood” by Nigel Goodall, is the amazing rollercoaster story of the once most bankable actress in Los Angeles.

It was the 1990 movie Ghost which made Demi Moore a star. What was intended as a soppy, lightweight film, became an unexpected blockbuster, earning $450,000 million worldwide. The ambitious young actress with the elfin features had struck lucky – and not for the first time.

It was the start of a massive ego trip which would astound even Hollywood. Demi slipped easily into position among the top ten box office stars and took every opportunity to make her demands heard. “She learned from a master demander,” said one studio executive. “Only unlike Bruce, she didn’t earn it. Demi has always been impatient while waiting for things to come to her.”

By the time she arrived in Europe to promote the film she was in the throes of a fully-fledged star trip. She would travel only by private aircraft and was attended by an assistant, who also had an assistant, along with three other people to do her hair, make-up and wardrobe, plus a masseuse and a bodyguard.

She insisted on pre-publication approval of any picture taken of her. It was a similar story two years later, when she came to promote Indecent Proposal, the modern day morality tale of the young wife who sells her body to Robert Redford’s character for a million dollars. “I will not be the object of someone else’s choice. This is about ME. I must retain control of what image of me is published,” she declared.

By then, Moore and Bruce Willis were Hollywood’s hottest couple. Control was everything. “A lot of people want things but not everyone is willing to go and get them. I am,” Demi snapped. “It’s hard walking away from chances I’ve been waiting for all my life. There are too many good actresses around so you have to go out and fight, pay attention, know what’s going on. The reality is you have to generate roles for yourself. Nobody will stop me now.”

She and Bruce bought a ranch in Sun Valley, Idaho, and then proceeded to buy up most of the nearby town of Hailey, lavishing millions of dollars on restaurants and the cinema, which showed their movies around the clock. At home excess was the rule, not the exception. Moore hired four nannies for their three girls – Rumer, now twelve; Scout, eight; and Tullulah, six. One nanny for each, plus a spare. There were also six assistants and a personal trainer.

On set, it was the same story. In 1993, during the filming of A Few Good Men, Demi insisted that her trailer be placed nearer to the film set than those of Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson – amongst Hollywood’s fragile egos, it is the rule that the biggest star get their trailer nearest the set. Moore, who was not the headlining star, made such a fuss she nevertheless jumped to the top of the pecking order. It was fairly typical behaviour. It was also the ultimate irony for the woman who came from a sector of society known in the US as trailer park trash.

Demetria Gene Guynes was born on November 11, 1962 in the New Mexico town of Roswell. Her mother named her after a brand of shampoo she’d spotted in a magazine. Demi grew up believing herself to be the daughter of teenage parents – Danny, an often unemployed salesman, and heavy drinking Virginia. By her own admission, Demi had a deprived and chaotic childhood, marked by poverty, alcoholism and domestic chaos. She reckoned the family moved house at least thirty times.

Quiet and withdrawn, visibly nervous and unsettled, she was a skinny, bespectacled ugly ducking as a child. When she was thirteen, Danny walked out on the family. Demi described him as a self-destructive, gambling con-artist – but she thought he was her father until she found out by accident she was the product of one of her mother’s hushed-up liaisons. Her real father was Charles Harmon, an Air Force officer, who she has met only once in her life – an experience she described as bizarre. The discovery about Danny hit her very badly. She said her mother’s cover-up was a tremendous betrayal – especially when she realised all her relatives knew the truth.

By the time she was sixteen, Demi was living in a seedy, low-rent apartment in West Hollywood with her mother. It was her first permanent home since the trailer parks of the past, but Virginia’s drink problems overwhelmed her and the parent-daughter roles became reversed. Demi went wild, dropping out of school and hitching up with a rowdy crowd. She was drawn to that candy store window of Hollywood, first as a model and then trying for bit-parts in film and TV.

Still just sixteen, she sought greater exposure, literally, by posing provocatively for a freelance photographer who got her on the cover of the racy men mag Oui. It did not provide her with the big break she had hoped for, but not to be discouraged, Demi survived on small roles on daytime TV soaps. She was firmly in her wild-child phase when she met rock musician Freddy Moore, who became her first husband when she was still sixteen. “I wanted him and there was the added adrenalin rush for the fact that he was married,” she remembers…