Reviewed by Jasmyne Ray
When done well, the celebrity memoir (i.e., biography, tell-all) has the ability to change an audience’s perception of them, which is usually in their favor. Demi Moore’s biography Inside Out: A Memoir nails the recipe of honest self-critique and recounts moments of her career and personal life with generous detail.
She doesn’t waste time getting into a tumultuous childhood and adolescence with her parents, both of whom struggled with alcoholism. Before her death in 1998, Moore’s mother attempted suicide several times. During her first attempt, it was Moore who dug the pills out of her mouth, a moment she believes ended her childhood.
A revelation for me came when she started talking about the early stages of her career as a model and posing for nude photos while she was underage. She would go on to sign with Elite Model Management, but seeing the way she was preyed upon as a young girl, including being raped when she was 15, may prove to be difficult or even triggering for some readers.
As she gets into her career in the early-80s, she writes that while she wouldn’t have called herself an addict, referring to her cocaine use, she acknowledges that it was what she had become at the time. While filming No Small Affair in 1984, she recalled how co-star Jon Cryer, who played her love interest, developed feelings for her as they were shooting and stated that he lost his virginity to her. However, since the book was released, Cryer stated in a tweet that he had actually lost his virginity in high school. In her book, Moore expressed how she felt that she was being “callous” with his feelings and that she “stole” a special moment from him, to which Cryer kindly added that he “was over the moon for her” and has “nothing but affection for her and not a regret in the world.”
After landing her role in St. Elmo’s Fire, she was forced to check into the infamous Betty Ford clinic by the director and two producers. She wrote that she stayed in the program for the sake of the film, not wanting to let the director and others supporting her down. “I had something much bigger than me to fight for,” she said. “And so I did.”
As the late 80s began to fade into the 90s, Moore would begin her second marriage with fellow actor Bruce Willis in 1987. Describing her first meeting with Willis, at the premiere for a movie starring an ex-fiance, she goes from disliking him to believing him to be “in his own boisterous way, a real gentleman.” They exchanged numbers at the end of the night, got married four months later and the rest, as they say, is history.
Her marriage with Willis gave her three daughters, but after a decade together, the couple decided to split, which actually turned out to be for the best. “It wasn’t easy at first,” she wrote. “But we managed to move the heart of our relationship, the heart of what created our family, into something new that gave the girls a loving, supportive environment with both parents.”
Moore’s third marriage, to actor Ashton Kutcher, lasted from 2005 to 2013, with them separating in 2011. As celebrity news articles from the time will show, their marriage didn’t have the same cordial ending as her previous one. When Kutcher started distancing himself, she started trying to become “the woman he wanted his wife to be.” When she began abusing the Vicodin prescribed to her after dental surgery, and later cut herself off from, Kutcher offered no support.
Moore is one member of an entire class of young stars from the ’80s including the likes of Molly Ringwald and Rob Lowe, who both have put their experience in the limelight to paper. Lowe released his autobiography Stories I Only Tell My Friends in 2011, which looks back on his early days as a child star, breakthrough starring in The Outsiders, and the wild and rocky years that followed.
Ringwald’s 2010 release, Getting the Pretty Back, came on the cusp of her fortieth birthday. More of a self-help guide than a memoir, she encourages other women nearing the same age milestone to embrace it rather than dread it.
The best part of celebrity memoirs is hearing notable events and scenarios retold from their perspective. Social media has given us the ability to reply, clap-back, support, and even “cancel” anyone in real-time, as well as give us more access to the lives of the famous than ever before. In keeping her truth so close to her, through choosing to share it through her book, she’s taking back control over her narrative, which is the ultimate sign of growth.