x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

The purse monkey's big adventure

Demi Moore appears in the lounge of her suite at the Emirates Palace hotel and produces a pinkish Beanie Baby, which she identifies as 'purse monkey'.

ABU DHABI // Demi Moore appears in the lounge of her suite at the Emirates Palace hotel and produces a pinkish Beanie Baby, which she identifies as "purse monkey". "This is just a silly something that somebody gave me and it literally lives in my purse," she explains. It is a few hours before she is set to tackle the red carpet downstairs, bringing in a dose of North American star power to the opening night of the Middle East International Film Festival.

The stuffed toy, she says, even looms large in holiday snaps, most recently when she and her husband, Ashton Kutcher, took an anniversary safari vacation in Kenya. "I had purse monkey with an incredible pride of lions behind, so close that it was just breathtaking, and orphan elephants," she says. "So, anyway, purse monkey's been travelling. Quite dirty from its adventure." Moore is almost as famous for her Twitter followers - more than two million - as her husband, most recently providing them with online updates about her African adventure.

At interview time yesterday, perhaps too busy, she had yet to post about arriving in the UAE. Moore and her husband, who did not tag along on her Abu Dhabi trip, are among the most avid celebrity users of the networking site. They post photos of each other, chat amongst themselves and generally baffle, not least by their vocal support for the Britain's Got Talent contestant Susan Boyle. It showed a loopier, if also rather more beguiling, side to the star best known for icily driven roles in GI Jane and Disclosure.

"I think it's an incredible platform for being able to reach people directly," she says of the website. "You're creating conversation as opposed to it being a one-sided dialogue. "I find that there are aspects to my personality that people are able to see that are maybe different from just seeing a grumpy face when the paparazzi are hounding me." The pair have also used Twitter to spread awareness of their social campaigning, recently announcing an organisation to tackle human trafficking and sex slavery to be known as the Demi and Ashton Foundation, or DNA.

"It's a cause that we're extremely passionate about," she says, "and again, it's something the more we delve in and try to educate ourselves on this issue, it is an enormous global problem." The campaigning has not stopped Moore completing several films, including a David Duchovny satire on consumerism, Meet the Joneses, and Bunraku, an effects-laden Samurai western that she describes as a "big action adventure".

"It has tremendous special effects," she enthuses dutifully. But the slavery issue is clearly what commands her interest at the moment. "I have been asked to participate in, I don't know if you know the book Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn?" she says, referring to a compendium of accounts of prostitution and abuse. "They are taking some of the stories that are in Half the Sky that are of particular women, and doing it as a docu-fictional series.

"They've asked me to direct one of the pieces, and I'm looking at that as a possibility." It would be a departure for Moore, whose directorial experience begins and ends with last year's short Streak, made for the Glamour Reel Moments film series. More than 25 years into her career, it appears she is still discovering her power to startle. elake@thenational.ae