Demi Moore and Bruce Willis: Inside Their 12-Year Marriage and Close Co-Parenting
By Antoinette Bueno
Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Demi Moore and Bruce Willis have certainly been through a lot together over the years.
The exes recently quarantined together with their three daughters -- 31-year-old Rumer, 28-year-old Scout and 26-year-old Talullah -- and are clearly still on great terms despite their 2000 split after 12 years of marriage.
But it obviously took a lot to get there. From their whirlwind romance to ultimately becoming supportive of each other's new relationships, let's take a look back at the A-list stars' famous ups and downs together.
Moore, 57, and Willis, 65, met at the premiere of the 1987 film Stakeout, which starred Moore's ex-fiance, Emilio Estevez. In Moore's revealing 2019 memoir, Inside Out, she talks about her first impression of Willis, describing him as "cocky, dark, and handsome." She recalls that Willis was completely focused on her that night, prompting Estevez to tell her, 'He's all over you, like a cheap suit in the rain.'"
"Bruce -- who'd been a bartender in New York City before he became a television star -- was showing off behind the bar that night, tossing the cocktail shaker in the air, the kind of thing that seemed cool in 1987 but sounds cringeworthy now, and Emilio had a point: Bruce was looking at me a lot as he went through his bar moves," Moore writes. "He was so attentive as the evening progressed, I was stunned to find out later that he'd actually been on a date that night with another woman."
Moore was charmed by Willis, and he asked her on a date before the night was over.
"I'd never encountered treatment like this before. Bruce was so gallant -- in his own boisterous way, a real gentleman," she shares. "When I said it was time for me to go home, he offered to walk me to my car. He was so eager about it -- like a little boy who didn't want to miss the ice-cream truck. When he asked for my number, I felt a wave of schoolgirl flutters. 'Do you have a pen?' He checked his pockets and came up empty. 'Don't leave!' he said, and went skittering off to get one. Then he wrote it on his arm -- a sight I'd see a million times over the years; Bruce was always writing things on his arm. But that first time, I noticed that his hands were shaking. He was so vulnerable in that moment: all of the bravado was gone."
Willis was all-in from the get-go, coming with Moore the very next day to visit her aunt. From then on, it was a whirlwind romance.
"It's hard not to feel good when someone showers you with that much attention," she explains in her memoir. "I think Bruce saw me as some kind of angelic savior when we first met, maybe partly because I was sober and not a party girl. .... Bruce insisted that he thought everything about me was beautiful: he wrapped my fear and anxiety in his love."
She also says the two bonded over difficult childhoods.
"When Bruce and I got together, our traumas met," she writes. "Like me, Bruce had had a difficult childhood: he was a stutterer, which had the positive side effect of getting him into acting. ... So Bruce and I had both grown up performing, role-playing for survival."
The two later married at the Golden Nugget casino in Las Vegas on Nov. 21, 1987 -- just four months after meeting -- after Willis convinced her to tie the knot on a weekend trip they took while he had a break from filming the now classic Die Hard. Moore said that she got pregnant with Rumer on their wedding night.
Later, the two had a much more lavish ceremony, which was paid for by film studio TriStar due to the massive amount of publicity it would generate. The late Little Richard officiated the ceremony, and Annie Leibovitz was the photographer.
Their fairy-tale romance continued while Moore was pregnant with Rumer.
"I had loved being pregnant," Moore recalls in her memoir. "The whole experience was wonderful from beginning to end. It didn't hurt that Bruce was constantly telling me how beautiful I looked for nine months."
According to Moore's memoir, the two started to have issues when she wanted to go back to work after giving birth to Rumer, while Willis wanted her to be a stay-at-home mom.
"We had a whirlwind, truncated infatuation that morphed into a full-on family, all in our very first year," Moore writes. "When reality set in, I don't know if we really knew each other. ... I think both of us from the outset were more passionate about having kids than we were about being married."
"He was proud of my work ... but not sure he was comfortable with the attention that came with it," she writes. " ... I just didn't buy the 'You're the king' kind of thing, which he thrived on. Plus, telling me, 'I don't know if I want to be married' is not exactly the way to my heart."
Moore writes that Willis "didn't want to be the guy who walked out on his family," but she suspected infidelity. Still, despite their issues, her second pregnancy with Scout kept them together and her third pregnancy with daughter Tallulah further cemented their relationship -- until Moore's mother began dying and they decided to call it quits in 1998. Their divorce was finalized in 2000.
In a 2000 interview with Rolling Stone, Willis was asked about what went wrong in the marriage, and he hinted that all of the attention on them was a factor.
"Well, I can give you the philosophical answer, which is also the most universal: Things change," he told the magazine at the time. "People grow at different rates. People change at different rates. It's difficult for any couple to keep their marriage intact under the best of circumstances, and our marriage was under a huge magnifying glass all the time. So, it might have been a little more difficult for us. I haven't figured it out yet."
Still, he stressed that he still had plenty of love for Moore.
"I still love Demi. We're very close," he noted. "We have three children whom we will continue to raise together, and we're probably as close now as we ever were. We realize we have a lifelong commitment to our kids. Our friendship continues. The institution has been set aside."
True to their word, the two had a largely amicable divorce, keeping their children a priority.
"I think Bruce was fearful at the beginning that I was going to make our split difficult, and that I would express my anger and whatever baggage that I had from our marriage by obstructing his access to the kids -- that I'd turn to all of those ploys divorcing couples use as weapons," Moore writes in her memoir. "But I didn't, and neither did he."
"I never had to split up vacations or split up birthdays," Rumer shared. "They always made an effort to do all of the family events still together and made such an effort to still have our family be as one unit, as opposed to two separate things, which I think really made an impact."
Willis and Moore even supported one another in their new romantic relationships. Moore famously moved on with Ashton Kutcher, and created a stir when she and all three of her daughters posed with both Willis and Kutcher at the Charlie's Angels 2 - Full Throttle premiere in 2003.
Meanwhile, Willis married model Emma Heming in Turks and Caicos in 2009, and Moore attended the ceremony alongside their daughters. She also attended their vow renewal ceremony in 2019.
"It's a funny thing to say, but I'm very proud of our divorce," she writes. "It wasn't easy at first, 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."
The two also now have a sense of humor about their past. In July 2018, Moore made a surprise appearance at Willis' Comedy Central roast and made some jokes about their split.
"People wonder why our marriage came to an end, and in all honesty, I think it was because some jealousy started to creep in. I think Bruce never really got over the fact that I rocked the bald look better than he did," Moore cracked, referring to her G.I. Jane look.
She continued, "After our divorce, he said he considered the end of our marriage his biggest failure, but Bruce, don't be so hard on yourself, you've had much bigger failures. I mean, Planet Hollywood, Hudson Hawk, Striking Distance, campaigning for Michael Dukakis, turning down Clooney's role in Ocean's Eleven to focus on playing the harmonica?"
"He called and he got very emotional," she said. "He said, 'I'm so proud of you.' I, too, then became very emotional, and I'm not a crier -- the purity of his love and acceptance, the space that he could hold for me, to be walking out and [have] that encouragement, it just really meant so much -- so much to me."
A source told ET that Willis was quarantining with Moore instead of Heming and their two young kids -- Mabel, 8, and Evelyn, 5 -- because he got stuck while visiting, when Sun Valley became a COVID-19 hot spot.
"Bruce, Demi and Emma have always had a great relationship and are good friends and none of this is weird to them," the source said. "It's outside people who are making it more than it is."
Still, the source said that the exes "never thought they would be forced at this age to stay in one home together 24/7."
"It's become a slumber party and they have settled in perfectly," the source said, noting, "Emma loves Bruce and is fine with him staying with his older children and Demi during this time."
"It's been really funny to have both of my parents in the house where they raised us, which has been really cute," Scout expressed. "They're both such nerdy, adorable, '90s parents in a small town where they chose to have their kids and not be in L.A. It’s been pretty cute. ... It's some divine timing too, of getting this much time to hang out with them."
On Mother's Day, Moore and Willis spent the day together as a blended family with Heming and his two children with the 41-year-old model, as well as with their own three daughters.
"Thankful to be with family today (and every day)," Moore captioned a picture on Instagram.