The Stunning Transformation Of Rumer Willis
Hollywood has brought us countless acting dynasties over the years — Jamie Lee Curtis is the daughter of Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, Carrie Fisher was the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Liza Minelli is the daughter of Judy Garland and Vincent Minelli, and the list goes on. That brings us to Rumer Willis, the oldest of five sisters and daughter of action hero Bruce Willis and queen of the screen Demi Moore.
Despite her super famous parents, Rumer has successfully forged an impressive acting career of her own. Her first role in Now and Then came in 1995 when she was just 6 years old. Since then, she’s appeared in Pretty Little Liars, 90210, Empire, and Once Upon a Time. In Hollywood (via IMDb). She’s also appeared in several theater productions, including Chicago on Broadway, according to Playbill. And, if all these credits weren’t enough, Rumer even won Dancing with the Stars, as noted by CNN.
It’s clear that Rumer is a total triple threat — but has her journey to stardom really been as easy as it seems? Here is the stunning transformation of Rumer Willis.
Even though Rumer Willis has famous parents, she didn’t grow up as Hollywood royalty
Acting is a seriously tricky industry to break into, as the competition in Hollywood is notorious. Additionally, it would be easy to assume that the child of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, two hugely famous actors, would live a charmed life filled with Hollywood glamour and opportunities. However, it turns out, Rumer Willis’ childhood was a little more normal than you may think.
The reason? Rumer grew up in Idaho. As she explained in an interview on The Chew, her upbringing made her pretty outdoorsy. “The school that I went to, every few weeks we would end up going on some sort of camping trip, whether it was like snowshoeing, or we’d go to like a yurt somewhere,” she recalled.
Of course, Rumer’s upbringing was still pretty luxurious. Her family lived on a sprawling ranch in Hailey, a once-crumbling town that was pretty much transformed by the presence of two Hollywood stars. Locals even started calling it “Haileywood” (via the Independent). Nevertheless, “Haileywood” was a far cry from the real deal, as Rumer eventually learned when she moved to the big city at 15.
Rumer Willis’s love for acting began with her first film at the age of 6
Rumer Willlis’ career began incredibly early; she was just 6 years old when she was cast in Now and Then, as the daughter of her mother’s character. As an adult, Willis looks back on her first job with fondness. “It’s so cool to watch and it’s so funny to just see yourself so tiny,” she revealed in a chat with HuffPost. “But I remember being on that set was just like heaven for me.”
That role led to a lifelong love of acting for Willis. “I’ve always been interested in acting,” she explained to Sarah’s Backstage Pass. “Ever since [Now and Then] it’s always been something that I’ve loved and wanted to do.”
Willis also shared how her love of film grew as she visited her parents on set. “It’s not like a normal circumstance,” she continued. “When you’re going to visit your dad at his job and he’s covered in blood and it’s like, ‘Aw cool give me some too.'” It’s easy to see how these early experiences made Willis fascinated with the life of an actor!
Rumer Willis’ parents split when she was 10
Rumer Willis’ childhood became a little more complicated when her parents decided to separate when she was just 10 years old. While it was a difficult time for Rumer and her sisters, they were shielded from the publicity surrounding the divorce. “I think at that time I didn’t have as much of an understanding of the public side of it to have that affect me as much,” she revealed on Larry King Now. She went on to explain that her parents handled the split gracefully and thoughtfully. “I’m so thankful and grateful that my parents made such an effort at that time,” she continued.
Apparently, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore really did try to make things easy for their children by maintaining a strong family dynamic. “I never had to split up vacations or split up birthdays,” she added. Sounds like this was a mature, intelligent divorce that made things pretty easy for Rumer, and gave her a serene childhood.
Rumer Willis was bullied online as a teen
Even though Rumer Willis was sheltered from life in the public eye throughout her childhood, things changed for the young actress when she moved to Los Angeles as a 15-year-old girl. “I [moved] right at the peak of my awkward phase of trying to figure out who I was,” Willis confessed to HuffPost. “I still had a bunch of baby fat, I had this massive ‘fro that I did not know what to do with.”
At the time, Willis explained, social media, blogging, and celebrity magazines were just taking off. “A lot of it was kind of that really mean, hyper-vigilant Perez Hilton types where it was just so attacking,” she continued. Willis was ridiculed for what they called her “potato head” and her “huge jaw.”
For Willis, this constant online bullying from the media was incredibly harrowing. As she explained, she didn’t yet understand how to have self-worth, which led to her having an unhealthy relationship with her body. She remembered thinking, “Ok, so if I get skinny or if I dress the right way or present myself very hyper-sexually and dress this way, then I’ll be valued.” How horrible.
Rumer Willis had to learn to have healthy intimate relationships
After being mercilessly bullied by online media outlets, Rumer Willis struggled with her sense of self-worth. As she explained in an episode of Red Table Talk, “When I was like 14, because I was so shamed when all those blogs came out about how I looked, how my face looked, then my idea was that, ‘Oh, well then, if I’m desired sexually then I have value,'” she shared (via USA Today).
This feeling of needing to be valued sexually eventually led to Willis losing her virginity at 18 to an older man, who, as she explained, “took advantage” of her. “I was not abused, or it wasn’t rape, but I didn’t say, ‘Yes,'” Willis confessed.
As Willis has gotten older, it’s clear that she’s learned to understand what a healthy relationship with sexuality looks like. “I hope in having open conversations about it that other people will have more confidence to do that as well,” Willis said (via Entertainment Tonight).
Rumer Willis stopped talking to her mom while she was married to Ashton Kutcher
After Demi Moore and Bruce Willis divorced, Moore married actor Ashton Kutcher in 2005 and they were together until 2013 (via Fox News). For Rumer Willis, this was a difficult time — she even cut ties with her mother for a brief period.
In a Red Table Talk interview, Rumer and her sister Tallulah Willlis explained why the relationship was hard for them: Moore, who’d been sober for over 20 years, started drinking again while she was married to Kutcher. “So much of that time, especially with Ashton, I was so angry because I felt like something that was mine had been taken away,” Rumer explained. Her mother’s marriage and relapse had completely transformed Rumer’s relationship with her mother.
Things got worse with Moore and Kutcher began trying for a baby. “There was so much focus on that, it was like, ‘Oh, we’re not enough,'” Rumer recalled. She went on to explain that when her mother had a miscarriage, she moved out of the house, because she couldn’t understand her desperation for another child.
The film Sorority Row gave Rumer Willis her first big role — and her first real group of friends
After years of playing small roles in a range of films and TV shows, Rumer Willis got her first big break in the 2009 horror film Sorority Row, a film about a prank that goes horribly wrong (via IMDb). Willis was 21 years old at the time.
Willis played Ellie in the movie, a role that challenged her. “She’s definitely one of the ‘bookish’ ones of the sorority,” she told Sarah’s Backstage Pass. “She’s going through this mental breakdown. she can’t handle any of the chaos with the emotional situation, it’s really hard for her.”
For Willis, the film was a critical moment in her life, not just her career. For one thing, it gave the actor her first real set of friends. “I never really had a solid group of girlfriends,” she continued. “These girls are definitely the first group of girls that I’ve ever really stayed in touch with and we basically talk every other day.” How sweet!
Winning Dancing with the Stars shot Rumer Willis to fame
While Rumer Willis’ acting career was definitely heading in an exciting direction throughout the 2010s, it wasn’t until her appearance on Dancing with the Stars in 2015 that Willis really made a name for herself. As she explained to W, she’d taken a few ballet classes as a child, but never had formal training.
Additionally, Willis revealed that Dancing with the Stars had initially approached her a few years earlier. At the time, she’d been performing in a cabaret about Baz Luhrmann in L.A. “We were by no means dancing properly and we didn’t even have a proper ballroom dancer teaching us,” Willis said of the show. However, when Dancing with the Stars approached her again, she saw it as an opportunity to truly learn how to dance. “I thought, ‘What an incredible opportunity,'” Willis recalled.
It turned out to be exactly that. When Willis ended up winning Dancing with the Stars, she became something of a household name, appearing on countless chat shows, and even heading off on a dance tour. “I think the whole experience was really special,” Willis told Time. “It’s an incredible journey.”
Rumer Willis proved herself to be a triple threat on Broadway in Chicago
After winning Dancing with the Stars, Rumer Willis set out to prove herself as a true triple threat. To that end, in 2015, Willis made her Broadway debut in the musical Chicago as Roxie (via Playbill). As Willis explained to W, her dance training on Dancing with the Stars ended up being incredibly useful. “I was able to work with Ann Reinking who choreographed it and she really liked the idea of using a lot of the things that I had learned in Dancing with the Stars,” Willis said. They ended up adding some lifts, a tango number, and even parts of the rumba she had done on the show.
Dancing with the Stars also prepared Willis for the nerves that come with performing in front of a live audience. “It was more daunting standing on stage for Dancing with the Stars every week than on Broadway,” she revealed. She explained that after months of learning a whole new number each week and performing in front of millions, stepping on stage for Chicago after three weeks of rehearsal felt like a breeze! What a total professional.
Rumer Willis got sober in 2017
Rumer Willis had a momentous life change in 2017: she became completely sober. In an Instagram post from July of that year, Willis wrote, “I will be the first one to say I’m not perfect and I mess up sometimes, and every once in a while I get it right, but I wanted to share this because I am really proud of myself. Yesterday I celebrated six months of sobriety.” She added that going sober had never been part of her plans, but having done it, she couldn’t be happier about her achievement. Congrats, Rumer!
It turns out, Willis’ decision to get sober didn’t come from any specific addiction problems. “My decision to become sober wasn’t out of a need necessarily, it was more just that I did Sober January and I just decided to keep going,” she shared in an interview with People. We think Willis’ decision is incredibly admirable — especially considering the struggle her mother went through with substance abuse issues!
In December 2020, Willis revealed that she was four years sober. Clearly, she’s invested in the sober life!
In 2018, Rumer Willis appeared in a stage version of Love Actually
Rumer Willis continued to entertain audiences with her multiple talents after Chicago and Dancing with the Stars. However, one performance was particularly important for the actor. In 2018, Rumer played multiple characters in a staged sing-along show inspired by Love Actually. As she told Access, she’d worked with this cabaret company for five years at the time.
It turns out, Rumer’s cabaret performances meant a lot to her father, Bruce Willis. “He’s just so sweet,” Rumer gushed. “I think a lot of where my music tastes comes from is from him. So, whenever I know he’s going to come to a show I always try and sing something. he either showed me or something that he likes.”
Apparently, Rumer’s song choices often leave her father in tears! Even she admitted that it was “so sweet and tender” seeing him cry, as he’s usually thought of as his macho, action-hero, on-screen persona. That does sound seriously adorable.
Working on Once Upon a Time. In Hollywood was a dream come true for Rumer Willis
As of 2020, one of Rumer Willis’ most exciting roles was her turn as Joanna Pettet, Sharon Tate’s friend, in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time. In Hollywood. The film also starred Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Leonardo DiCaprio. For Willis, the project was a total dream come true. With the cast and director, it’s not hard to see why!
Apparently, Willis auditioned for two other roles in the film but wasn’t cast in them. As she told Access, she got the call about playing Joanna a few days before turning 30. “I was like, I will do anything, I will PA on this set, like whatever, I just want to be part of this movie,” she quipped. Willis also confessed that she had massive crushes on both Pitt and DiCaprio growing up. Wow, talk about a total dream job!
Rumer Willis showed off her singing chops on The Masked Singer
In 2019, Rumer Willis appeared on the reality competition show The Masked Singer, in which well-known personalities dress up and perform for judges. Willis was transformed into “The Lion” for the show. She was eliminated one episode before the finale, but she still wowed judges and audiences with her voice. As judge Nicole Scherzinger said after one performance, “I am shocked because she can sing . I felt like I know this voice.” The judges were shocked when her identity was finally revealed. When asked why she did the show, Willis said, “I knew how to dance, and I — everybody kind of figured out that I could do that, but I wanted everyone to know I could sing, too.” Well, she certainly proved herself!
In an interview with E! News, Willis explained that it wasn’t exactly an easy experience. Despite being “very comfortable singing on stage,” Willis said that her mask was “10 or 12 pounds” and she couldn’t see past her nose. “There were times when I did some choreography where I was right by the edge of the stage and I was just praying that I didn’t fall,” she said.
In 2019, Rumer Willis came down with a mysterious and scary illness
For Rumer Willis, 2019 ended up being a pretty scary year. The actor revealed in a since deleted Instagram post (via the Independent) that she’d been struggling with some awful symptoms. Apparently, Willis had stomach pains throughout most of August, which originally began as a result of food poisoning. However, it eventually became clear that the problem was something worse; Willis described being unable to eat, as it felt like her “stomach was on fire.”
Willis finally realized that she had to pay more attention to what her body was trying to tell her. “I have been in so much pain and kept trying to fight it and be angry and sad, but what I realized was that I was trying to control it,” Willis wrote. It’s pretty amazing to see the strength that Willis had in overcoming her mystery illness.
Rumer Willis hopes to become a positive role model for women
Despite being raised by two members of the Hollywood elite, it’s pretty clear that Rumer Willis hasn’t always had the easiest life. But she’s learned a lot over the years, and she’s focused on becoming a positive role model for other young women.
Back in 2009, when Willis was promoting Sorority Row, she told IndieLondon, “One of the most important things that I would love to do. is to set a really positive role model for young women about their body image and about eating.” More recently, in 2019, Willis told HuffPost that her goals hadn’t changed. “I think the most important thing for me is doing my best to lead by example,” she explained.
And that’s exactly what Willis is doing. Her Instagram is filled with inspiring posts discussing her own struggles with mental health and body image, and encouraging others to be more positive as well. One post reads, “This is just an appreciation post for my body because I think it’s important to celebrate ourselves” (via Yahoo). What an amazing message this young actor is sending out!