Movie star Demi Moore's memoir Inside Out tells her turbulent life story

Some celebrities use memoirs to make a quick buck or burnish their (sometimes faded) image. They recount a few stories, provide a bit of gossip, maybe settle the odd score. But they don't necessarily reveal much about themselves.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 26: Demi Moore attends the 'Friendly House' 30th annual awards luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 26, 2019 in Beverly Hills. Picture: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 26: Demi Moore attends the 'Friendly House' 30th annual awards luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 26, 2019 in Beverly Hills. Picture: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

Then there's the memoir as therapy. American actress Demi Moore - star of Ghost, Disclosure and Indecent Proposal, among other films - takes this route. She wants to get some things off her chest, and there are quite a few of them. Just because she was once the highest paid actress in Hollywood doesn't mean she hasn't had her share of pain, and that's not meant to be snide. Everybody hurts.

Moore undoubtedly had a difficult early life. In her childhood she was diagnosed with the life-threatening condition kidney nephrosis, requiring multiple hospitalisations.

Her parents, who got together young, moved around a lot. Their relationship was marred by complications - infidelities, mental health issues. Eventually they split and Moore lived with her frequently irresponsible, sometimes suicidal mother. And eventually Moore found out something startling about her parentage that everyone else in her family already knew. But there was worse: Moore was raped at the age of 15 and the rapist said she had been "whored out" by her mother for $500.

She had done some acting classes and began working while a young adult, with early roles in the soap opera General Hospital and the film Blame It On Rio before her breakout as one of the so-called "Brat Pack" actors in the hit St Elmo's Fire. For a while, she was engaged to castmate Emilio Estevez. And things went up from there, at least in terms of her career.

Some of Moore's problems are all too familiar from other stories of fame and success - press intrusion, drugs, rehab, tumultuous relationships and body issues. She was labelled "Gimme Moore" when her earnings became high, although as she points out, the issue of pay parity for women in Hollywood endures.

She's reflective and not particularly rancorous about her three marriages. The first, when she was 18, was to musician Freddy Moore and lasted about three years but better known were her unions with actors Bruce Willis and Ashton Kutcher, who was 16 years her junior.

Having three daughters with Willis seems to have been a highlight: being a mother, she says was "one of the few things I can say I was innately good at" and it seems to have helped, for a while at least, in her difficult relationship with her own mother.

Not that she found negotiating the tricky terrain of marriage was easy: her relationships with Willis and Kutcher had their high spots but also their challenges and both ended in divorce. She says Willis ended up feeling he wasn't needed, but when she tried being more solicitous with Kutcher, he wanted more independence.

And she talks about the mixed effects of her involvement with Vanity Fair: a well-known cover showed her naked and very pregnant. She had no regrets about that but found the accompanying article harshly negative, portraying her as a diva. But, she says, it was also "a humbling reality check" about how she was perceived.

Interestingly, there is no "as told to" or "with" credit for New Yorker journalist Ariel Levy, who was the ghostwriter. It's hardly a secret, though, and Moore does praise Levy lavishly - and place her first - in the acknowledgments.

How much you enjoy the book might well depend on how great your interest is in Moore and how much tolerance you have for celebrity introspection. There are some "insider" stories about filmmaking - Jack Nicholson behaving both generously and selfishly on A Few Good Men, the physical challenges of GI Jane - but it's the personal side of Moore's life she emphasises.

When she gets to the age of 50, alone, somewhat estranged from her daughters and hospitalised after a drug reaction at a party, she wonders how she got to that point. Inside Out is her attempt to answer this, and while it's not a definitive life story, and despite Levy's involvement, it feels like something personal emerges.

  • Inside Out: A Memoir, by Demi Moore. HarperCollins. $32.99.
This story Demi reveals Moore: the ups and downs of a star's life first appeared on The Canberra Times.