Actress Demi Moore, 61, says Cannes horror film demanded full nudity, complete vulnerability


Cast member Demi Moore poses on the red carpet during arrivals for the screening of the film 'The Substance' in competition at the 77th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 19, 2024. Photo: Reuters

American movie star Demi Moore said the vulnerability required for her role in the body horror film The Substance, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19, was both demanding and exciting.

Moore stars as Elisabeth, an ageing TV fitness instructor a la actress Jane Fonda, who signs up for a mysterious medical regimen called The Substance that promises to create the perfect version of herself – played by American actress Margaret Qualley of the comedy road film Drive-Away Dolls (2024).

The role requires Moore, 61, to be completely naked as well as transform into a deteriorating old woman through prosthetics.

“All of it at different times had moments that were challenging,” she told Reuters in an interview.

“The level of vulnerability that this role called for on all the different levels – emotionally and physically – were as demanding as it was exciting because it really pushed me to step out of my comfort zone.”

Critics were positive on Moore’s performance, with entertainment website Variety calling it “nothing short of fearless” and American magazine The Hollywood Reporter praising how she “imbues her character with a visceral desperation”.

Cannes 2024 marks the first time in more than a quarter-century that Moore, who became a sex symbol through films such as Indecent Proposal (1993) and Striptease (1996) in the 1990s, was at the festival.

It was a remarkable return to the red carpet, after years in which the actress has made headlines more for her marriages to actors Bruce Willis and Ashton Kutcher than her acting.

For Qualley, 29, having to portray the so-called perfect version of a woman’s body was a weird experience.

“She is meant to be perfect, but she’s probably like the least beautiful character I’ve played because she’s heartless,” said the daughter of American actress Andie MacDowell.

French director and writer Coralie Fargeat said her goal was to explore women’s toxic relationships with their bodies and how they are taught that their worth is tied to their appearance.

“The way I wrote the movie really sticks to what we experience as women with our bodies. So, it’s the way our body is seen, but also the way we see our own body,” she said. – Reuters, AFP

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