Rumer Willis: What Most People Don't Know About Bruce And Demi's Famous Daughter

The following article includes mentions of sexual abuse allegations and addiction.

Rumer Willis is the daughter of Hollywood royalty: "Die Hard" actor Bruce Willis and "G.I. Jane" star Demi Moore. Unfortunately, the badass action movie icons couldn't protect their firstborn child from becoming a tabloid target.

By 2009, Rumer was blossoming into a star in her own right. However, she knew that her burgeoning career in the entertainment industry had little to do with why she was making regular appearances alongside the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Jennifer Aniston in the gossip glossies. "The amount of work I've done is not necessarily equal to the amount of media attention that I get," she told But when her parents named her, they weren't being prophetic. According to The Virginian-Pilot, her namesake is Rumer Godden, the acclaimed author of "Black Narcissus" and "The River." Still, there was a time when Rumer was not a fan of her uncommon moniker. "When I was 12 and had crushes on guys, I'd put my first name with their last name, but it never sounded right. Rumer Depp? Nope," she told Page Six in 2008. "In school, kids would sing, 'Rumer, Rumer with a big hairy tumor.'"

Rumer grew up in Idaho, where she was safely tucked away from paparazzi and mean-spirited celebrity bloggers, but she told, "At a certain point in Idaho you reach a limit of growth, especially in regards to the creative arts that I wanted to pursue." In following her calling, Bruce and Demi's famous daughter has lived a rather extraordinary life.

Rumer Willis' mom initially thought joining DWTS was a bad move

Instead of simply following in her parents' footsteps, Rumer Willis quick-stepped out of their shadow by signing on for Season 20 of "Dancing with the Stars" in 2015. With the help of her pro partner, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, she hit the ground running — or, rather, foxtrotting — and earned the best score of the competition's first night. "I don't feel we have a lot of competition," Rumer told ABC News after their dominant performance.

In front of the "DWTS" cameras, Demi Moore admitted that she initially wanted to talk Rumer out of joining the reality show's revolving cast. "My whole insides, I have to be honest, were screaming, 'No,'" she said, per People. However, she quickly became one of Rumer's biggest cheerleaders. Moore joined ex-husband Bruce Willis in the audience for the premiere, where the proud parents watched Rumer face off against competitors including Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin, "Shark Tank" star Robert Herjavec, and legendary singer Patti LaBelle. Moore even dusted off the ol' Twitter account to ask her followers to vote for her talented daughter.

Rumer went on to win the mirror ball trophy, but it wasn't the only prize she took home. She told Glamour that her participation allowed her to show people who she really is, and in an interview with Page Six, she revealed that she learned a valuable life lesson: "The only way to find true happiness is to find self-confidence and value from within."

She barely made it to Broadway before Bruce Willis

After discovering her ability to captivate audiences with her dance moves on "Dancing with the Stars," Rumer Willis told Page Six that she was setting her sights on Broadway — specifically, the role of murderess Velma Kelly in the musical "Chicago." In addition to her newfound knack for learning choreography, she had acquired other skills that shaped her into the ideal candidate for a job on the Great White Way. Per Near North Now, she spent two years of her young life studying theater and opera at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan.

In 2015, Rumer's Broadway dreams came true, but instead of being cast as the vampy Velma, she played her plucky rival, Roxie Hart. "I think that I'm much more Velma at heart," Rumer said on "Today." Unfortunately, her first performance had to be delayed when she injured her foot during the "DWTS" tour, but she still managed to make it to the Broadway stage mere weeks before her dad starred in his first-ever Broadway role.

Speaking to Vulture about their disparate roles, Bruce argued that he had it much easier than his daughter. In "Misery," he portrayed an author who gets held hostage by an obsessive fan, and he spent a great deal of his time on stage bedridden. "Rumer's part is factored by five, you know?" he said. "I just have to remember a lot of words."

Rumer Willis and Demi Moore appeared on Empire together

Rumer Willis told Elle that she harbored acting aspirations as a young child, but if it's true that she landed a role as an extra in Bruce Willis' 1988 action classic "Die Hard," as he's claimed, she's too young to remember the experience. At age 7, she appeared alongside Demi Moore in the 1995 coming-of-age film "Now and Then." This was followed by another job working with her mom, and this time, she played the daughter of Moore's character. "Rumer overheard me telling the story of 'Striptease' to someone and said she wanted to be in it, too," Moore recalled to The Morning Call. But the part wasn't handed to Rumer, who had to audition and beat out over half a dozen other young hopefuls.

When she got a bit older, Rumer landed larger roles in movies and TV series, including "The House Bunny," "Sorority Row," and "90210." Her impressive vocal skills also helped her get cast in "Empire" as the talented diva Tory Ash, whose story was based on the tragic life of Amy Winehouse, per The Hollywood Reporter. Moore was later offered her own role on the Fox series, which she accepted after getting the greenlight from her daughter. In a 2017 appearance on "Today," Rumer said that she hadn't shot any scenes with her mom, but they were spending a lot of time with each other. "She's actually living with me in my apartment, which is definitely interesting," Rumer said with a laugh.

The gifted singer had to lie about The Masked Singer

Years before getting cast in "Empire," Rumer Willis impressed her "Sorority Row" castmates with her powerful pipes. "In the hotel, after a long day of shooting, we'd all get together around the piano in the lobby, and Rumer is phenomenal. She's got a voice," Jamie Chung marveled to The Virginian-Pilot in 2009. Willis scored a residency at the Sayers Club in 2014, and the following year, she danced to her own cover of the Britney Spears classic "Toxic" on "Dancing with the Stars." By the time she won the dance competition, she had established herself as a singer with a big enough fanbase to merit her own tour. "Music, I feel like, has always definitely been my first love," she told Smashing Interviews Magazine while discussing her "Over the Love" tour in 2016.

Willis got another opportunity to showcase her vocal abilities when she signed on for "The Masked Singer" in 2019. But while speaking to People that January, she had to insist that it was not her wearing the golden lion mask on the show. She was unmasked during the semi-finals, however, and Rumer later told E! News that she didn't just lie to keep her identity a secret — she also didn't let her dad know about the gig. "I feel like he would have just been so proud at some point and been like, 'Hey, my daughter's doing this show! You should go watch her on it,'" she said.

Rumer Willis doesn't believe that she's a nepotism beneficiary

Don't you dare call Rumer Willis a nepo baby. In a 2016 interview with the Tribune-Star, the multi-hyphenate insisted that her success in the entertainment industry has little to do with a majority of Hollywood knowing that she's the daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. "In the end, if you're talented you'll get work, if you're not, you won't, so it doesn't really matter who you know," she said. But who she knew most definitely played a part in how she got cast in the series "Medium" in 2009. The show's executive producer, Glenn Gordon Caron, worked with Bruce when the actor starred on "Moonlighting," and he became a close family friend. In an interview with 13WTHR, Caron recalled hanging out at Bruce's place one day and telling Rumer that he would be on the lookout for a part for her.

Speaking to, Rumer admitted that she got a heads up about another role, and she dropped out of school to pursue it. "My Dad was shooting 'Hostage' and he told me there was a part," she said. Either her confidence, her connection, or both paid off, as she ended up getting the role in the 2005 film.

While Rumer believes that her family name doesn't give her a leg up, she did tell The Guardian that she consults with her parents about her career. "They're extremely supportive," she said. "I couldn't ask for anything more."

She experienced horrific online bullying

In 2009, Rumer Willis told The Guardian that she avoided reading any online gossip about herself, but some of the trolls who mercilessly mocked her became impossible to ignore. Perez Hilton was among the most vocal of her attackers, giving her the nickname "Potato Head" and making other meanspirited comments about her appearance. "She's not conventionally pretty or talented, but thankfully mommy and daddy have big names!" he wrote in a 2008 blog post.

While Willis did her best to put on a brave face, it was clear that the cruelty got to her. When Page Six asked her about appearing on People's 100 Most Beautiful People list in 2008, she said of the honor, "After being compared to Jay Leno for so long, you don't think of yourself in that way." Willis also spoke about the bullying on "Dancing with the Stars" in 2015, saying that she came to believe that changing her appearance with cosmetic surgery or by losing weight was the solution to her woes. "I don't think I really felt comfortable in my body or with how I looked, and people were nasty," she recalled, per People.

But speaking to Glamour in 2015, she revealed that competing on "DWTS" boosted her self-worth in a healthy way. "When you conquer something you didn't think you could do, energy and confidence radiate out of you, and that's more beautiful than if you were skinny or had the perfect face," she said.

The most buzzworthy Rumer Willis dating rumors

Like any celeb worth her weight in tabloid ink, Rumer Willis has been the subject of dating rumors. There was the usual showmance speculation that came with appearing on "Dancing with the Stars" in 2015, but when Willis appeared on "The Howard Stern Show," she insisted that she was not dating her dance partner, Valentin Chmerkovskiy. That same year, tabloids also linked Willis to a fellow contestant, Chris Soules of "The Bachelor" fame. Soules helped fan the flames when he shared an Instagram photo of the twosome watching the Knicks play at Madison Square Garden. "Can people not go to games with friends anymore?" Willis said of the speculation (via Page Six).

Another "Bachelor" star, Nick Viall, entered the picture in 2018 after Willis posted a since-deleted Instagram snapshot of the two of them chilling poolside. Viall, who is also a "Dancing with the Stars" alum, later told People that he and Willis were just close pals, and he said that they had a conversation about her post. "I was like, 'Just so you know, people pay attention to who I'm dating or not,' and she was like, '[I] don't care,'" he recalled.

In 2020, Willis and actor Armie Hammer were photographed with their arms around each other. This was before the allegations of sexual abuse and a reported cannibalism fetish killed Hammer's career. "She's really grateful she didn't get caught up in the Armie nightmare," a source told OK! in 2021.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Rumer Willis defended her racy photos

In addition to acting, singing, and dancing, Rumer Willis' Hollywood résumé includes a modeling entry. In 2020, she raised a few eyebrows by posing for a provocative photo series masterminded by professional photographer Tyler Shields. In one image, Willis wore a black latex bodysuit and placed the end of a riding crop inside her mouth. In another, she was pictured naked on her knees with her wrists bound. In response to the Instagram followers who let her know that they found the images triggering, she wrote, "My only intention was that of celebration and empowering the female form." 

When discussing the BDSM-inspired images on "The Talk," she confessed that she was a bit taken aback by the response to them. "I knew that it would probably bring up a lot of comments, but I was not at all prepared for the amount of negativity," Willis said (via Yahoo!).

The following year, Willis had to defend herself again after she modeled intimate apparel for CUUP. This time around, she addressed those who didn't understand her view that being photographed in the undergarments was a way for her to promote body positivity, saying that she found their critical comments upsetting. "This is not about sex, it's not about staying relevant or garnering attention. I truly could care less about those things," Willis wrote on Instagram, explaining that she found the photoshoot therapeutic after being bullied over her appearance for so many years.

She crushed on Ashton Kutcher

When Demi Moore started dating "That '70s Show" star Ashton Kutcher in 2003, she put poor Rumer Willis in the most awkward of positions. Speaking to the Daily Mail in 2009, Willis confessed to once having Kutcher's likeness plastered on her wall, so it came as a shock when her mom told her about the new man in her life. "I kind of freaked out a little bit. I definitely blushed," she recalled. Willis became Kutcher's stepdaughter when he wed Moore in 2005, and they eventually adjusted to their new roles. "It was definitely weird for a minute, but I have to commend him. He was a really great stepfather," Willis said on "The Howard Stern Show." She even told the Daily Mail that Kutcher helped instill a strong work ethic in her by getting her hired at his dad's construction business.

On "Red Table Talk," Willis confessed that she found it upsetting when Moore and Kutcher began trying to have a child of their own, and even after Moore had a miscarriage, it was difficult for her to let go of that bitterness. "I literally was just like, 'Why are you so desperate to have another kid?' I couldn't stand the idea," said Willis. The mother and daughter eventually mended their relationship, and Willis maintained a friendship with Kutcher after he and Moore divorced. "I reached out to him when he [and Mila Kunis] had the baby, which is so awesome," Willis told Access in 2014.

Rumer Willis feared she would witness her mother's death

In 2012, TMZ reported that Demi Moore had to be rushed to the hospital after inhaling nitrous oxide and experiencing seizure-like symptoms. According to the outlet, one of the actor's friends witnessed her convulsions and called 911. But it was actually Rumer Willis who picked up the phone, leaving Moore's side while she talked to a 911 operator. "I'm like, either my mom is gonna die and I'm not gonna be in the room, and I'm gonna feel the guilt of that for the rest of my life, or I'm gonna be there and see this image of my mom that I will never get out of my head," Willis recalled on "Red Table Talk." She said that she also found herself imagining the aftermath of her mom's death, realizing that she would be the one telling her sisters that they would never get the chance to speak to their mother again.

Before the frightening health scare, Moore had fallen off the wagon after being sober for two decades, revealing that she started drinking again because she convinced herself that Ashton Kutcher wanted to be with someone who could drink with him. The close call was the wakeup call Moore needed to get sober again, and she believed that some good could come out of the pain her actions caused her daughters. "My hope is that, in understanding me, that they would better understand themselves and love themselves," she told ABC News.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

She got sober and stopped smoking

On "Red Table Talk," Rumer Willis revealed that her struggle with alcohol use began when Demi Moore relapsed. Willis and her siblings found their mother's drastic personality change disorienting and distressing and eventually cut off contact with Moore. This is when Willis really became unmoored. "I literally started getting anxiety attacks about how bad I was gonna feel the next day. So I would be drunk and ... start hyperventilating and freak out," she recalled.

During a 2021 Instagram Live with American Addiction Centers, Willis revealed that she was also using alcohol to boost her mood and her self-confidence. "And it's a lie, it's completely a lie," she said of how alcohol made her temporarily feel. By the time Willis realized she was drinking excessively, everyone else in her family had gotten sober. "I was like, 'Man, I can't be the only one left here. This sucks,'" she recalled to Monument (via SheKnows). The actor-singer told American Addiction Centers that she eventually decided to give sober January a shot, and Willis celebrated six years of sobriety in December 2022, per Instagram.

Willis also decided to stop smoking in 2013, telling Elle that she realized how much of a strain it was putting on her voice when she signed on to star in the musical "For The Record: Baz Luhrmann." She later admitted to SheKnows that she found it hard to drop the bad habit, but she always tried to quit again each time she gave in to the urge to smoke.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Inside Rumer Willis' relationship with her blended family

In a 2009 interview with The Guardian, Rumer Willis praised her mom and dad's healthy co-parenting relationship. "Our parents made the priority us," she said. "I feel so grateful and so lucky that I've never had to have split holidays and we can all go as a one-unit family." That unit later gained some new members. In 2012, Bruce Willis and his second wife, Emma Heming, celebrated the arrival of their daughter, Mabel. The couple welcomed another girl to the family, Evelyn, two years later.

After their divorce, Bruce and Moore remained on such good terms that they both quarantined with their kids in 2020. Per ET, Rumer even got her parents to dance together for a goofy Instagram video. Heming and her daughters eventually joined the group in Idaho, and she shared an Instagram video of Rumer helping Evelyn learn how to ride a bike without training wheels as the rest of the family cheered.

By all appearances, Rumer has a warm relationship with her stepmother. "Hey people please give some love to my gorgeous and talented stepmomma," she tweeted in 2011. And while Rumer was performing on Broadway, Heming showed up to support her. "Beaming with pride! Still buzzing from her performance last night," she wrote on Instagram. But poor Bruce started feeling a bit outnumbered. "He, over quarantine, was like, 'So I'd like for you to have a son because I need some male energy in this group,'" Rumer said on "The Talk."

Her sweet way of cheering up her dad after his devastating diagnosis

In March 2022, Rumer Willis and her family members announced that Bruce Willis would be retiring from acting. "Our beloved Bruce has been experiencing some health issues and has recently been diagnosed with aphasia, which is impacting his cognitive abilities," read their joint message on Instagram. According to Mayo Clinic, aphasia can cause impaired speech and other communication difficulties.

People with aphasia can benefit from singing, according to the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute, and that May, Rumer revealed that she was brushing up on her guitar skills to treat her dad to her own special form of music therapy. "Out of practice but trying to play some tunes for my Daddio," she wrote on Instagram.

According to Rumer, her father is who instilled a deep appreciation for music in her. "He was always singing or playing music for my sisters and I. Especially lots of jazz, blues, classic rock and roll," she told The House that August. "It shaped so much of how I sing and what I listen to." Speaking to Smashing Interviews Magazine in 2016, Rumer revealed that she performed some of the timeless tunes her dad introduced her to during her "Over the Love" tour. And in an interview with The Virginian-Pilot, she praised Bruce's harmonica skills, saying, "He's actually really good. I'm wholly proud of him."

Why Katherine Schwarzenegger was thrilled by Rumer Willis' pregnancy

A lot of people celebrated with Rumer Willis when she announced that she and her boyfriend, Derek Richard Thomas, were expecting their first child together. "Still cant believe I am currently cooking a little person in my belly right now," Rumer wrote in a December 2022 Instagram post. "I'm so grateful this little soul chose me to have the privilege of being their mama." 

The couple's child will grow up surrounded by music, as Thomas is the frontman of the band Vista Kicks. And there will likely be no shortage of friends and family members offering to babysit, judging from the reactions to the couple's happy news. Moore reposted a photo carousel of Rumer's baby bump on her Instagram page and added a caption reading, "Entering my hot kooky unhinged grandma era," while Emma Heming congratulated her stepdaughter by writing, "Baby news is happy news!!! ... We are elated over here!"

Thanks to the baby announcement, fans learned that Rumer was friends with another daughter of a famous action star as a kid. "So happy for my dear friend @rumerwillis," Katherine Schwarzenegger captioned a since-deleted Instagram post (via People). "Can't wait for our kids to grow up together like we did." Bruce Willis, who starred alongside Katherine's dad, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in "The Expendables 2," was reportedly elated, as well. "He is happy about becoming a grandpa," a source told People. "He loves having a big family."