At her peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Demi Moore‘s career seemed to be unstoppable. After appearing in a string of globally successful blockbuster movies from 1990’s Ghost to 1994’s Disclosure, Moore was one of Hollywood’s most respected and highly-paid actresses. However, after the much-derided Striptease, released in 1996, her star began to wane somewhat. Marred by problems in her personal life, Moore recently announced that she intended to divorce Ashton Kutcher, her husband of six years. However, with a part in the all-star cast of Margin Call, Moore could well be on the right path to getting her career back to its former glory.
She first came to the attention of the movie-going public in 1985, with the release of Joel Schumacher’s coming-of-age drama St. Elmo’s Fire. Now a cult classic, the film featured a cast of Brat Pack stars, including Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe and Judd Nelson, as well as Moore herself. In her early twenties at the time, the actress played the role of Jules Van Patte, a party girl with a coke habit and an addiction to flashing her cash, a reflection of the burgeoning ‘yuppy’ culture of the day.
St. Elmo’s Fire focuses on a group of friends leaving university and facing the trials of growing up – something that Demi certainly did with the release of Ghost – her next major Hollywood venture. Ghost was a phenomenal success across the globe, grossing over $517,000,000 in box office sales. Aside from the film’s commercial success, it was notable for the steamy scenes between Moore and her co-star Patrick Swayze, which have gone down in cinematic history as iconic love scenes. Moore’s solid performance propelled her into the Hollywood A-list and she began to be cast in serious high profile lead roles, such as the naval investigator and lawyer Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway in A Few Good Men.
The naval drama became another iconic film of its time, though perhaps its most memorable scene was between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. Their court-room scene with Cruise’s lines “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth” has become a notorious movie moment. A Few Good Men was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and, like Ghost, has grossed over $15 million in box office receipts. The credibility of Moore’s career continued to grow and she was soon cast in Indecent Proposal, which raised eyebrows at the time, due to its controversial plotlines.
The film focuses on a newly-wed couple who go to Las Vegas to try and win enough money to finance the building of their dream home. Demi Moore plays the role of the wife who, with the consent of her husband (Woody Harrelson) has sex with a wealthy businessman (Robert Redford). The film caused a stir at the time of its release for its raunchy scenes but only cemented Moore’s status as hot property in Hollywood. Media attention surrounding the actress was also at a peak around this time, not least in part due to her notorious appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair. She was photographed for the cover of the popular lifestyle magazine, completely naked bar for a pair of earrings and heavily pregnant at the time. The shot, taken by photographer Annie Leibovitz sparked huge debate, mostly centering on whether or not the image was an artistic portrayal of a pregnant sex symbol or whether it was an exploitative example of sexual objectification. Whatever the outcome, the debate ensured that Demi Moore remained a household name whilst she took a brief break from acting to have a child, with her now ex-husband Bruce Willis.
Continuing her trend of appearing in films which sparked debate, the actress starred in the 1994 adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel Disclosure, opposite Michael Douglas. The film combines mystery with sexual politics in the workplace, and its star cast ensured its financial success, despite mixed reviews from film critics.
Just a couple of years later, though, the trajectory of Demi’s acting career hit a stumbling block. In Hollywood, it can only take one poorly-received film to turn a career on its head and it seems that could be what happened when Moore decided to take the lead role in Striptease. The ‘sex-comedy’ was largely panned by film critics, despite its respectable cast list, which included Ving Rhames and Burt Reynolds. With the benefit of hindsight and 15 years after its release, Striptease is widely believed as the film that ruined Demi Moore’s career.
Casting a glance over the actress’ CV from 1996 onwards, it looks bleak. It was hoped that G.I. Jane would rejuvenate her credibility and although the film was a financial success at the time of its release, its reputation has not fared well over time and certainly hasn’t retained the popularity of her earlier work, such as Ghost.
Moore may not have slipped from view to such a dramatic extent as some of her fellow Brat Pack actors – her marriage to Ashton Kutcher ensured that she retained a place in the tabloid headlines, if nothing else – but she has struggled to claw back even a fraction of the credibility and Hollywood pulling power that she once had. In recent years, her personal life has overshadowed her professional one. Her directorial debut, Streak, came and went in 2008 without the merest flutter of mainstream interest, whilst her young husband maintained a life in the public eye both behind and in front of the camera.
With the recent news, however, that she intends to divorce Kutcher after his widely-reported infidelity, it seems possible that Moore may be turning her career around whilst she takes control of her personal life. The sympathy that the public will undoubtedly extend her will, no doubt, help revitalise her popularity. Equally, though she can’t possibly have planned it, the release of Margin Call is a timely one. Joining an ensemble cast, including Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons and Paul Bettany, the financial drama was premiered at the respected Sundance Festival and, with a wider release in October 2011, the film already has a handful of award nominations under its belt. The New Yorker went so far as to say that it is “the best Wall Street movie ever made”, which would place it on a pedestal overlooking Oliver Stone’s Wall Street from 1987 and 2010’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, starring Demi’s former co-star Michael Douglas.
Margin Call marks the first time since 2006’s Bobby that Demi Moore has been involved in a film that has attracted serious critical praise. She may have the trouble of divorce proceedings to contend with but Moore is in a prime position now, with her children reaching maturity, to focus on her career choices and rebuilding a reputation that was all but shattered with a few ill-considered decisions in the mid to late 1990s. Margin Call could well turn out to be a very good call, indeed.
And so to the latest news – that Moore has reportedly taken a major role in the forthcoming biopic of adult movie star Linda Lovelace, who will be played by Amanda Seyfried. The actress is set to play the feminist trailblazer Gloria Steinem in a movie that is already being tipped for great things before a single scene has been committed to celluloid. 2012 could prove to be the year that Demi Moore once again became a serious player in Hollywood.