Great actors, those most capable of galvanizing attention onscreen, are often reclusive or even entirely humdrum in daily life—Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis come to mind. And then there are movie stars, who, thanks to some rare inborn quality, shine just as vibrantly, often even more so, offscreen. The former live in the public eye thanks to their roles, whereas the latter do not owe their fame to any given performance. Private antics, public spats and provocative media images risk distracting from an actor’s talent, but for a movie star they are fully half of what her biography consists of.
Few contemporary celebrities illustrate the distinction more clearly than Demi Moore. For 25 years now, she has made a career—and a fortune—from being stared at by the public. Her body of work has been notable in no small part because of her notable body. Which is why it’s impossible not to study every inch of her famous face and well-documented curves when she pounces on a sofa at 7:30 p.m. after a long fashion shoot in a Hollywood photo studio.
At 47, she looks changed, although more by time than by the surgeon’s knife. One might say she looks her age, although hers is an undeniably striking version of midlife. The skin of her forehead and around her eyes does indeed wrinkle as she expresses emotion, its surface less dewy fresh than it once was. Beneath her haystack of wavy black hair, Moore is thinner than expected, which emphasizes the prominent bone structure that still photographs so well but also gives her a slightly gaunt appearance in person. Her chopstick legs are sheathed in skinny dark jeans, and her oversize cashmere sweatshirt looks as if it could have been borrowed from husband Ashton Kutcher’s side of the closet.
In the midst of a slow-motion movie comeback some six years after returning from semi-retirement in Idaho, where she lived with her three daughters by ex-husband Bruce Willis, Moore no longer commands eight-figure paychecks. She has nonetheless been busy. She’ll soon be back onscreen in two indie films: Happy Tears, opposite Parker Posey, and The Joneses, a dark comedy costarring David Duchovny about a seemingly perfect family who are in fact pitchmen hired by a guerrilla marketing firm to promote pricey consumer goods.
“The Joneses has an extremely relevant topic,” says Moore, who has always shown a knack for being right in the middle of the zeitgeist, from her days as an initial investor in Planet Hollywood to her current status as a Twitter queen. “It deals with people leveraging their lives for stuff.” Moore seems to relish the self-referential quality of working on a film that pokes fun at materialism and marketing. “In a weird way, I was already participating in that dynamic,” she notes in reference to her implicit red-carpet endorsements of this bag or that dress.