Demi Moore Shares a Peek Behind the Scenes of Her No. 1 Best Seller

Chances are, you’ve seen Demi Moore on a screen — a big one at the multiplex or a little one in your best friend’s basement. If you’re a moviegoer of a certain age, you might trace your journey from adolescence to adulthood by the release dates of Moore’s greatest hits, from “St. Elmo’s Fire” to “G.I. Jane.”

Now fans have a chance to see Demi Moore somewhere new: on the cover of “Inside Out,” her memoir, which debuts at No. 1 on the nonfiction list. Here, the star who famously bared all on the cover of Vanity Fair reveals sides we haven’t seen before — some heartbreaking, some galvanizing. There she is as a kid, fishing pills out of her mother’s mouth after an attempted overdose, and as a teenager, raped by one of her mother’s friends. And later, there she is falling in love with Bruce Willis, having three daughters, asking to be paid a fair price for her work, getting divorced, marrying Ashton Kutcher. By the time Moore pops open a beer with Kutcher in Mexico, ending almost two decades of sobriety, the reader wants to climb through the page and body block their hotel minibar.

Moore was already under contract with HarperCollins to write a book about mothers and daughters when she hit rock bottom in 2012. She was hospitalized following a seizure after smoking synthetic cannabis and inhaling nitrous oxide. After that, she says, “My life exploded. There was no way I could wrap my mind around the idea of writing. All parties involved — from my agent to the publishers and my editor — could not have been more compassionate or gracious in giving me space to heal. Then they came back to me a couple of years ago to say, ‘We either need to let this go, or we need to do it.’ It wasn’t a pressure — it was a release if that was what I saw was in my best interest. But I knew this was an opportunity I shouldn’t miss. One question kept jumping into my head, almost like it was yelling at me: ‘How did I get here?’ Coming from the life I came from?’”

She was later introduced to Ariel Levy, the author of “The Rules Do Not Apply” and “Female Chauvinist Pigs,” who proved to be a co-writer on par excellence with J.R. Moehringer (collaborator with Andre Agassi on Open”) and Buzz Bissinger (who worked with Caitlyn Jenner on “The Secrets of My Life”). Moore says, “I knew she had just released her memoir, and I didn’t want to read it because I didn’t want to be intimidated or censor myself to what I thought she might want. But I knew we shared a very similar loss. Instinctively, intuitively, I felt we could connect.”

Moore and Levy got to know each other in Idaho, taking breaks to jump in the snow and hike. One such hike is immortalized in a snapshot in “Inside Out,” and Levy is the first person Moore thanks in her acknowledgments. She writes, “You are a beautiful human, a kindred spirit, and I thank the universe for bringing our paths together.” Eventually, Moore did read Levy’s memoir: “And it was everything I felt that it would be. It held everything I was hoping to inject into my story — compassion, gratitude and honesty — and that there was no blame. I wasn’t a victim. There was nobody made out to be a villain.”

[ For her part, Levy told The Times last month that she encouraged Moore not to self-censor while they were writing. “Let’s just get it out, and in the end, anything that you’re like, ‘That’s actually too private,’ we’ll take it out,” she told Moore. “And that step kind of never happened.” ]

Moore says her title, “Inside Out,” was inspired by a silk-screen given to her by Andy Warhol for her 23rd birthday: “On it was an image of a pyramid, an eye and kind of like a Christ/Buddha figure sitting in a lotus position. What it said was, ‘The only way out is in.’ This became the last line of the book.” She’s been surprised by the “depth and breadth” of the response to her tale of survival: “It’s my story, but in some way maybe it’s your story too.”

So how is writing a book different from making a movie (or 40)? Moore says, “It’s very different. When you’re doing a film, there’s a character you’re playing, and it’s an extremely collaborative art form that’s dependent on so many different factors and even though you’re putting yourself completely into it, there’s a separation. With a book, it is you.”

Elisabeth Egan is the author of “A Window Opens.”

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