Empire and 90210 actress Rumer Willis is the eldest daughter of Hollywood icons Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. Yet when Rumer was 15, Moore found love with a new man: Punk’d star Ashton Kutcher. And in front of the cameras, everyone looked happy with their arrangement. But in a recent appearance on Red Table Talk, Rumer revealed how she truly felt about aspects of her mother’s marriage to Kutcher.
So what happened? Well, Moore met Kutcher in 2003 when she was in New York City on the promotional campaign for Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. Kutcher was in the city presenting an episode of Saturday Night Live, and the pair wound up at a mutual friend’s dinner party. And according to Moore’s memoir, Inside Out, the couple connected immediately.
“He was 25. I was 40. But I’m telling you: we couldn’t feel it,” Moore wrote. “We were totally in sync, from our very first conversation.” The pair then talked into the early hours of the morning and soon began a relationship. They even made their first public appearance as an item at the premiere of Full Throttle. The media quickly latched on to the large age gap between the actors.
Moore explained in her memoir how being with a younger man made her feel. “When I met Ashton it almost felt like a do-over, like I could just go back in time and experience what it was like to be young,” she wrote. She believed she could enjoy youth “much more so than [she]’d ever been able to experience it when [she] was actually in [her] 20s.”
So Kutcher integrated into Moore’s family unit. This includes Moore and her ex-husband, Bruce Willis, as well as their three daughters, Rumer, Scout and Tallulah. In fact, the three girls took to referring to Kutcher as “MOD” or “My Other Dad.” The group – the three girls, Moore, Kutcher and Willis – even appeared at events together all over Hollywood. And six weeks after Moore discovered she was pregnant with Kutcher’s baby, he proposed to her on a beach.
The pair married on September 24, 2005, in a Kabbalah ceremony at their Beverly Hills home. 100 guests packed the house, including Willis. At the time, Moore told Harper’s Bazaar, “Talk about meeting your soulmate. I truly feel I have been given that gift.” Unfortunately, though, the relationship fell apart several years later – and this contributed to Rumer feeling negative about her mother’s relationship.
Rumer Glenn Willis came into the world in August 1988 in Kentucky, where her father was shooting In Country. Her sisters, Scout LaRue and Tallulah Belle, followed in 1991 and 1994, respectively. And from a young age, Rumer showed an interest in following in her parents’ footsteps. She even made her screen debut in Moore’s 1995 drama Now and Then.
At the time, the family lived in Hailey, Idaho, where Rumer and her sisters would stage shows in their living room. Rumer told People in 2015, “There was a Destiny’s Child ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’ phase.” She also admitted, “In Idaho, there’s not a whole lot to do.” Her desire for performance continued, though, and she soon appeared with her parents in Striptease and The Whole Nine Yards.
In 1998, however, Moore and Willis separated, finalizing the divorce two years later. Rumer was only nine years old when the family announced the split. In 2015, though, she told Larry King that Moore and Willis had done their level best to stay amicable and stable for their daughters’ sake.
“I never had to split up vacations or split up birthdays,” said Rumer. “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.” She also told King that even many years after their divorce, her parents were still friends.
Rumer did reveal that her childhood hadn’t always been easy, though. Living life in the shadow of two famous Hollywood stars had its fair share of pitfalls. “I think one of the hardest parts was growing up with having your whole life kind of be on display and have people have an opinion about it,” she articulated.
Rumer continued, “Before you learn how to kind of get a tough skin or to really just have confidence in who you are without letting other people’s opinions affect that, that can sometimes be really hard and really get you down.” Luckily, her parents instilled inner strength in her. Rumer told King of how her mother, in particular, imparted this wisdom.
Rumer explained that Moore is “very strong.” She said, “I’ve learned a lot of the integrity that I try to hold for myself and everything that I do and the value that I try and put out in the world [from her].” In fact, Moore taught her to “live in whatever your integrity is, and go out to the world and present yourself how you want to present yourself and how you want people to see you.”
So, after finishing high school, Rumer went to the University of Southern California – because her parents wanted her to. However, she quit after one semester. And instead of college – which the star said wasn’t her “jam” – she took up acting classes and voice lessons. At the same time, she worked in a Marc Jacobs store and auditioned.
How did Rumer initially adjust to her mother’s relationship with Kutcher, though? After all, she was only 15 years old when they got together. And what’s more, the 25-year-old Kutcher was a prominent Hollywood leading man at the time. In fact, in 2008 Rumer revealed to Cosmopolitan that she’d had a teen crush on the That ’70s Show actor before he hooked up with her mother!
“It was strange when Mom, who is 15 years older than Ashton, started seeing him,” Rumer admitted. “I was 15, and he was a heartthrob to me. I had pictures of him on my wall!” Later, in 2015, she addressed this potentially awkward situation again in an interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM radio show.
“It was definitely weird for a minute, but I have to commend him,” Rumer said. “He was a really great stepfather. The perspective shifted very quickly.” Stern then jokingly brought up the pictures Rumer had on her wall. She replied, “That’s when you open up your Teen Beat and just take him down, rip out somebody else and put them up.”
Rumer maintained that she had never told her mother about the crush – but had let it slip to another family member. “I feel like I told my sister that at one point like, ‘Man, gotta cross him off the list,’” she chuckled. Rumer was then forced to let her crush go. Yet she insisted that she had always felt positive about her mother’s relationship with Kutcher.
In fact, Rumer told Stern that – aside from some initial weirdness – she had never found it problematic that her mother had been with a much younger man. “I feel like I was kind of impressed like, ‘Yeah, girl, get it,’” she said. Despite this positive account from Rumer, though, the marriage did present some emotional difficulties for her.
Rumer discussed these alongside her mother – and younger sister Tallulah – on the November 4, 2019, episode of Red Table Talk. Jada Pinkett-Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Norris and Willow Smith host the popular Facebook Watch talk show together. And among the main topics of conversation this time around was Moore’s marriage to Kutcher.
The union lasted from 2005 to 2013, and in that time Kutcher and Moore tried to start a family of their own. But this didn’t sit well with Rumer. In fact, the actress felt like she was losing her mother. “So much of that time, especially with Ashton, I was so angry because I felt like something that was mine had been taken away,” she admitted on Red Table Talk.
Rumer couldn’t help thinking that Moore’s quest for a new baby lessened her and her siblings’ relationships with their mother. She revealed, “I think also, when she wanted to have another baby and then it wasn’t happening, and there was so much focus on that, it was like, ‘Oh, well, we’re not enough.’” This negative feeling led to Rumer leaving the family home.
The tipping point came when Moore suffered a miscarriage six months into a pregnancy. “Part of the reason I moved out of the house was, I think after you had a miscarriage, I literally was just like, ‘Why are you so desperate to have another kid?’” said Rumer. “I couldn’t stand the idea.” Then, however, Rumer found pictures of her mother in full bloom.
She explained that when she found the pictures, she realized how wrong her attitude had been. “I saw how big her stomach was, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I was so insensitive,’” Rumer confessed. “I never once went to you and said, ‘I’m so sorry,’ [or] ‘Are you okay?’”
Moore wrote about her miscarriage in her memoir, Inside Out, which came out in September 2019. She told of struggling to find the words to convey how “lost, empty, desperate, confused” she felt in the aftermath of losing her child. “I really lost sight of everything that was right in front of me, which was the family that I had,” she wrote.
On Red Table Talk, Moore also described how she had felt addicted to Kutcher during their marriage. She said this feeling clouded her ability to focus on the grown-up children she already had. She said, “The addiction and the co-dependency… my addiction to Ashton – that was probably almost more devastating because it took me seriously away emotionally.”
This resulted in Tallulah feeling left behind, too. The youngest Willis explained, “Watching the behavior with Ashton, those years, because everyone had left the house and it was just me living there, I felt very forgotten, and I feel like I developed and nurtured a narrative where she didn’t love me and I truly believed it.” She conceded that, in reality, she had known her mother did love her, but “in that moment” had felt hurt.
Moore fell back into her addictions to alcohol and painkillers while married to Kutcher, too. Before this, you see, the star had been clean for 20 years, following a stay in a rehabilitation clinic in the ’80s. So this state of affairs naturally caused further issues between family members. And in 2012 the star suffered a seizure after ingesting synthetic cannabis and nitrous oxide.
Rumer spoke of how it would make her feel when her mother had been drinking or taking drugs. “It was very weird, and there were moments where it would get angry,” she acknowledged. “I recall being very upset and kind of treating her like a child and speaking to her like a child. It was not the mom we had grown up with.”
Tallulah also told of how she had become anxious whenever her mother had been drunk or high. “It was like a monster came,” she said. “I remember there’s just the anxiety that would come up in my body when I could sense that her eyes were shutting a little bit more, the way she was speaking.”
In her memoir, too, Moore is honest about how she found it hard to cope mentally and physically after her divorce from Kutcher. She told The New York Times, “Part of my life was clearly unraveling. I had no career. No relationship.” Her relationship with all three daughters suffered during these years as well.
During the Red Table Talk interview, in fact, Rumer said Tallulah and Scout refused to speak with their mother for three years after she divorced Kutcher. This left Rumer in an unenviable position. “My family basically shunned me and called me a traitor for going to talk to her,” she confessed, before saying she felt like it was up to her to reunite the family.
She also believed that if she hadn’t made efforts to bring everyone closer together, she’d have ended up with no family at all. “I was like, ‘Then I’ll have no one. I have my mom, who’s not capable of being a mom right now, and the rest of my family is just not going to speak to me anymore,’” she said.
This left Rumer functioning as an “ambassador” of sorts. It became her job to keep the lines of communication open between her family members. Giving an example of how untenable the divide in the family became, Rumer spoke of the dilemma she experienced on the night in 2012 when Moore had the seizure and was rushed to the hospital.
“I was there in the other room with 911, panicking,” Rumer explained to Jada, Willow and Adrienne. She thought, “My mom’s going to die, and I’m not going to be in the room, and I’m going to feel the guilt of that for the rest of my life.” And part of her felt like she needed to be there for Moore if this was indeed the end.
But on the other hand, Rumer wondered if going to the hospital to see her mother dying would leave her with an image she would never be able to get out of her head. She also worried that she’d have to phone her sisters “in the morning and tell them that [their] mom died, and they’re never going to talk to her again.”
People magazine also reported that a source said, “[Moore] was really struggling mentally and didn’t take care of herself. She didn’t have the best relationship with her daughters, either, and her life was just chaos.” However, the star has spent the past few years rectifying this by getting healthy and rebuilding bridges with her daughters.
People’s source also stated, “Now [Moore] has a beautiful relationship with all of her daughters.” They claimed, “[Moore] feels bad about the years when she wasn’t healthy. She really tries to make up for it now. Her daughters are amazing. [Moore] is involved in their everyday lives.” The source also believed that the girls “are very supportive” of Moore and that they “love that she wrote a memoir.”
Scout, Moore’s 28-year-old middle daughter, backed up the source’s claims when she told The New York Times how proud she was of her mother. She praised Moore for “doing the internal work that she didn’t have the time to do, for a long time, because she was just in survival mode.” For her part, Rumer also spoke about her mother to The New York Times.
Rumer said that her view of her parents had shifted considerably as she’d gotten older. She can now see that they were never “immovable gods of Olympus,” but were “just people” like everyone else. And these days, Rumer, Scout and Tallulah are back to spending a lot of time with their parents as a family.