Demi Moore Talks Explosive Full-Frontal Nudity at Cannes

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Demi Moore’s graphic body horror movie The Substance has made a huge splash at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Winning a reportedly raucous 11-minute standing ovation and plenty of raves from critics—as well as a handful of winces from queasier audiences—The Substance has been called an “instant classic.” A good handful of that talk has been about the film’s explosive full-frontal nudity, which Moore spoke more about at the film’s post-premiere press conference.

Revenge director Coralie Fargeat’s new film follows Elisabeth Sparkle (Moore), a washed-up actress who gets fired from a TV network after being deemed “too old.” Following her firing, Elisabeth is invited to a new program called “The Substance,” which allows aging actresses to become their younger selves again. Moore’s figure transforms into that of Margaret Qualley—although she must frequently hibernate to keep her young body available for movie shoots.

There’s plenty of shock value in The Substance, early viewers have reported. For example: One of the first-look stills from the film features a woman’s back being stapled together. Described by Variety as Cronenbergian, The Substance also features Moore and co-star Qualley nude, which became an important topic at Monday’s press conference about the film.

“Going into it, it was really spelled out—the level of vulnerability and rawness that was really required to tell the story,” Moore said during the conference on Monday, when asked about the scenes. “And it was a very vulnerable experience and just required a lot of sensitivity and a lot of conversation about what we were trying to accomplish.”

We don’t know a ton about the nude scenes, having not seen the movie yet. What we do know, however—and some slight spoilers here for folks who want to go into the film completely blind—is that there’s some prolonged moment where Moore studies her naked body before taking The Substance—then, she also takes a beat to examine Qualley’s body.

“I had someone who was a great partner who I felt very safe with. We obviously were quite close—naked—and we also got a lot of levity in those moments at how absurd those certain situations were,” Moore said of Qualley. “But ultimately, it’s just about really directing your communication and mutual trust.”

Currently, The Substance has no release date. Mubi acquired the horror film at the fest, with an expected release sometime this year.

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