Howard and co-host Robin Quivers greeted actress and longtime Hollywood legend Demi Moore with a standing ovation on Wednesday as she joined them in SiriusXM’s new L.A. studios on the last day of the Stern Show’s West Coast broadcasts. The superstar wound up discussing everything from her incredible film career to her difficult upbringing during her visit—if she seemed like an open book it’s probably because she just published her first memoir, “Inside Out,” which currently sits atop the New York Times bestseller list.
Howard was floored by her book’s many harrowing revelations dealing with everything from parental neglect and substance abuse to sexual assault. “Let me tell you something, you left nothing out. It’s a warning to people, a testament to survival,” he told her on Wednesday.
“My intention was to ultimately be of service. If by sharing some of my mistakes, my failures, my challenges, maybe that might inspire someone else or help someone else,” Demi told him. “There were obviously really difficult things growing up, but I also know that it’s what has made me who I am.”
As she describes it, “Inside Out” is a journey of healing. She now believes her painful childhood experiences enabled her to become the successful woman she is today. “If I had had, you know, this like encouraging … parental dynamic, I might not have had the courage and determination to step into a world I knew nothing about and become who I’d become,” Demi later explained.
She didn’t become a Hollywood icon overnight, however. Demi dropped out of high school to move to New York City and model. While it paid the bills, her modeling career never took off—in part, she believes, because she wasn’t as tall or as skinny as other women she was up against. Demi admitted she’s still bugged by the fact she dropped out of high school, saying for a while she thought it meant she wasn’t smart. Her stance has softened over the years, though she still feels she missed out on some experiences by not attending college.
Demi experienced an education of another sort after breaking into show biz. One of her first major roles was on the soap opera “General Hospital,” where the cast was expected to perform in upwards of 30 pages of dialogue each day. In addition to teaching her how to get comfortable acting on a set, Demi told Howard working on “General Hospital” also taught her how to get a little too comfortable with alcohol. She said she looked up to her colleagues on the show and began to drink more often after seeing her co-stars imbibe.
“I crossed a line,” Demi said, later adding, “With alcohol I don’t have an off switch. I literally don’t. I don’t have the thing inside that says, ‘Oh, that’s enough.’”
In 1984, Demi co-starred alongside Michael Caine and Valerie Harper in the romantic comedy “Blame It on Rio.” While Howard praised both her work and her beauty in the film, Demi said she never saw herself as a “hot bodied” girl back then. Though she had quit drinking by that time, she revealed it was that shoot where she first became acquainted with cocaine.
“I loved coke. It made me feel productive and, you know, full of ideas,” Demi said. “It’s such a terrible drug.”
Her next big film was “St. Elmo’s Fire,” but the shoot was actually delayed because of Demi’s substance abuse struggles. Director Joel Schumacher apparently learned about her hard-partying ways and gave her an ultimatum: get cleaned up in rehab or get a new line of work.
“They didn’t start the movie until I had 15 days of sobriety,” Demi told Howard. “He said, ‘If I hear of you drinking even one beer, you’re gonna be fired.’”
Demi still isn’t even sure why Joel stuck his neck out for her, but she credits his intervention as being a turning point in her life. “It was a gift,” she said, explaining her career was the one thing in her life back then that gave her a sense of self.
“St. Elmo’s Fire” ultimately shaped her life and career in a variety of ways. In addition to helping her find sobriety, it helped her become a household name as part of the legendary “Brat Pack.” The 1985 film also resulted in a high-profile romance between Demi and her co-star Emilio Estevez.
In her book, Demi talks about Emilio taking her home to meet his brother, Charlie Sheen, and their father, Martin Sheen. Howard guessed spending time with them allowed her to feel like she finally had a normal family of her own. “I get why you kind of fell in love with this guy,” Howard said.
“The whole thing was definitely, like, intoxicating,” Demi admitted. “I really appreciated how they were.”
Howard also asked about one of Demi’s fictional romances, with Patrick Swayze in the 1990 blockbuster “Ghost.” “It’s such a powerful performance,” he told her, eager to discuss the film.
Considering how loving Demi and Swayze’s relationship appeared on screen, Howard wondered if the two felt any sort of spark off camera, but Demi said they didn’t. It was easy for them to keep things totally professional, especially since she was married to Bruce Willis at the time and had recently given birth to their first child, Rumer.
Not every aspect of the shoot went smoothly, however. Director Jerry Zucker got mad prior to filming when Demi cut her hair short on a whim after getting inspired by a photograph of famed Italian actress Isabella Rossellini.
“He was definitely upset,” Demi told Howard, adding, “I didn’t even think about it being a conflict until I saw his face, and I showed up, and he was like ‘Where’s the hair?’”
“I think it worked,” she added of her character’s trademarked pixie cut, though.
“It was fantastic,” Howard agreed.
Critics were actually quite hard on “Ghost” at the time, though Demi didn’t understand why. “I thought it was really brave,” she said. “I must really be missing something. What are they seeing that I’m not?”
Demi doesn’t typically enjoy watching her own movies after the fact, but she told Howard she makes an exception for “G.I. Jane,” the 1990 action film in which she portrays the first woman to undergo U.S. Navy SEAL training. The actress famously got into incredible shape for the Ridley Scott picture and, to this day, the training she completed in preparation for the film remains one of Demi’s proudest accomplishments.
“It was hardcore … We had all real SEALs down there, and it was me and 40 guys,” she told Howard.
On day one of training, Demi recalled a mile-long run which resulted in massive blisters on her feet and getting sick after crossing the finish line. When a film consultant told her she didn’t have to continue with the training, she refused to quit.
“I was like, ‘Just give me some tape,’ and I taped up my blisters and off we went,” she recalled for Howard.
Things got worse on the second day when she arrived late and was reamed out by the instructor, but she persevered, finished her training, and went on to portray one of the strongest women in cinematic history.
Of course, Demi doesn’t just portray trailblazing women in film. She paved new ground herself when appearing naked and seven-months pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair’s August 1991 issue. The images, captured by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, shook the world.
“I was just trying to do the shoot reflective of how I felt,” Demi told Howard. “It’s like, you could celebrate finding out that you’re pregnant and you could celebrate once you had the child, but in the in-between … we have to pretend like we never have sex. It’s like this immaculate conception.”
“It’s a revolutionary thing to actually do it. It’s almost like it liberated everyone,” Howard said, pointing out how several famous women eventually followed in her footsteps and published intimate portraits of their pregnancies.
“I love it,” Demi said. “It’s incredibly complimentary … I like that we have the freedom to express that.”
Not everyone loved it at the time, however. Some newsstands even censored her body on the cover. “I can’t believe how crazy the response was, as if it was pornographic. How is that possible?” she wondered.
Her Vanity Fair cover aside, Demi said she doesn’t usually think of herself as “Demi Moore, sexual hot person.” But Howard begged to differ, recalling one time in the 1990s when she appeared on David Letterman’s late-night show in nothing but a bikini.
“I wasn’t even promoting anything,” Demi told him. Apparently the show had simply asked her to deliver that night’s Top 10 list in a revealing outfit. “I definitely was uncomfortable,” she said.
Before leaving, Demi also shared a few stories about the making of “Indecent Proposal,” her erotic 1993 drama co-starring Woody Harrelson and Robert Redford. The first of her anecdotes wasn’t about either leading man, however, it was about Howard himself.
“When I was shooting ‘Indecent Proposal’ the crew kept saying, ‘You know, this guy Howard Stern, you know he’s talking about you all the time.’” Demi recalled. “So, we were shooting nights and on the way home I said to the crew, ‘I’m gonna call in.’ You remember when I called in?”
“Was that you?” Howard said.
“For real, 100 percent,” she laughed. “We had a whole conversation.”
The script required Demi to get romantic with both Harrelson and Redford and Demi told Howard that director Adrian Lyne got quite animated while shooting the film’s steamiest scenes.
“He’s like going, ‘Oh god, fucking raunchy, fucking horny. Oh, fuck, I got a boner on that one’ … Woody Harrelson and I were like, ‘What is going on?’” she said. While Lyne had the cast and crew in stiches, she said his antics also broke the tension on set which helped the actors become less self-conscious.
Howard wondered if Woody got aroused during the shoot, but Demi insisted he had no trouble containing himself. “It just shows you, by the way, that everything is mental,” Demi concluded.
“Yes, and I’m as mental as they come,” Howard laughed.
Demi Moore’s memoir “Inside Out” is available now.