Cannes, France, May 20, 2024 —

Demi Moore’s new film, the feminist body horror “The Substance,” directed by Coralie Fargeat, has created a significant buzz at the Cannes Film Festival. During a press conference on Monday, the 61-year-old actor opened up about the challenges and vulnerability of performing several full nudity scenes in 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. “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.”

In “The Substance,” Moore portrays a fading celebrity who resorts to a black market drug to create a younger, better version of herself, played by Margaret Qualley. This drug, a cell-replicating device, results in Moore’s character sharing her life with this new entity, necessitating periods of dormancy to allow the other to thrive. An early scene features Moore studying her nude body before using the drug, leading to Qualley’s character’s emergence and her subsequent marvel at her new form.

Moore credited her co-star Qualley, who was not present at the press conference due to another commitment, for making the intense scenes more comfortable. “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,” she shared. “But ultimately, it’s just about really directing your communication and mutual trust.”

As the narrative unfolds, Moore’s character suffers disfigurement from the abuse inflicted by Qualley’s character, leading to a dramatic transformation reminiscent of Anjelica Huston in “The Witches.” Reflecting on this transformation, Moore remarked, “It was very strange seeing myself in the prosthetics both on set and at the premiere. One thing that helped was that my dog still recognized me. It was my touchstone of reality.” Her dog, Pilaf, has recently become a social media sensation, making appearances with Moore at various events.

“The Substance” received an 11-minute standing ovation at its Sunday night premiere, the longest of this year’s festival. Director Coralie Fargeat highlighted the film’s feminist themes, noting that body horror serves as a powerful medium to express the violence of women’s issues. She hopes the film will contribute to the ongoing #MeToo movement in France, saying, “It’s a little stone in the huge wall we still have to build regarding this issue, and to be honest, I hope my film will also be one of the stones of that wall. That’s really what I intended to do with it.”