Demi Moore Is the “Sociopath Next Door” in Her New Movie With Jessica Williams
"She’s toxic and using everything to her own advantage. At the same time, she really believes that what she’s doing is the for the good of all."
“Comedy is not considered to be in my wheelhouse,” says Demi Moore, who plays Lucy Vanderton, a tyrannical, self-obsessed, and, yes, hilarious CEO of a “game-changing” edible cutlery company in Corporate Animals. The savage satire of workplace dynamics — rife with dark humor and an alarming amount of cannibalism — hits theaters on Friday, Sept. 20. (Consider yourself warned.)
She certainly had some help from an all-star cast, including Ed Helms, Isiah Whitlock Jr., and Nasim Pedrad, not to mention an ongoing snappy repartee with 2 Dope Queens’ Jessica Williams, who plays Jess, her ambitious, disgruntled assistant with the potential to become the “Beyoncé of business.” Adds Williams: “I’m rolling my eyes right now. She’s funny.”
Equal parts wicked and delusional, Lucy forces her employees to partake in an ill-advised staff retreat to the New Mexico desert in an attempt to bond. At the boss lady’s behest, their quirky guide (Helms) leads them on a daring expedition into a cave, where they eventually wind up trapped and without a leader (spoiler alert) or food, forcing them to resort to the unthinkable: eating each other to survive.
Ahead of the premiere, InStyle sat down with Moore and Williams to discuss the cringe-inducing film, millennials, and (sort of) working with Britney Spears.
Have either of you ever had a terrible boss?
Jessica Williams: Absolutely. I used to work at the To Del Amo mall in Torrance, Calif. I had a few bosses who were very, very rude.
Demi Moore: I’ve encountered a lot of people like Lucy, who have that disconnect from reality and a narcissistic sense that everything in their life is only about what affects them.
JW: A lot of people in Hollywood come to mind. [Laughs]
Lucy’s inherent selfishness extends to her hiring choices, too. She runs a diverse company, but that’s a calculated choice for her.
DM: Exactly. It seems like she’s hired everyone for a socially conscious purpose of coming together at a female-led organization, but it’s all so that she can get certain kickbacks and benefits and tax exceptions. She’s toxic and using everything to her own advantage. At the same time, she really believes that what she’s doing is the for the good of all. She’s the sociopath next door.
Britney Spears makes a brief vocal cameo. Did you get to meet her on set?
JW: I had no idea about it until the premiere! Unfortunately, she never came to set. I would’ve loved if she popped up in Santa Fe. We would’ve had breakfast burritos together.
There’s a clear generational divide between Lucy and Jess — the baby boomer and the millennial. What did you learn from each other while making this movie?
JW: Working with [Demi] was so cool… she’s so legendary. She comes in, she knows what she wants, she knows what she’s gonna do, but she’s also very giving and makes sure everyone is taken care of. She’s a badass.
DM: You’re missing out on life if you don’t show up to learn from everyone that’s around you. It was definitely mutual — there’s a different kind of energy and view that’s coming from where you sit, not just as a comedian, but how you see the world. Listening to what’s important to you, what you’re thinking about, the voice that you guys have that you’re putting forward to creating change inspired me to want to be much more present and attentive.
Demi, you’re relatively new to Instagram. What made you to take the plunge?
DM: I was at Princess Eugenie’s wedding, who I’ve known since she was a little girl, and it was so magical and sweet, from the love that had come my way and Stella [McCartney] helping me with my dress. I just figured, OK, if I’m gonna ever do it, now is the time! I think [social media] has a wonderful place, but it can also become toxic and finding the right balance is important. There’s so much in life that you don’t want to miss by being on your phone — there are subtleties and rich moments that you miss when you’re worried about capturing it on an image to then be able to post.
We need to make sure that we live in what’s real and not illusion. And that’s not to say that we should only be gravitating and seeking that which we can hold, because ultimately what we’re looking for is not tangible—we all want happiness and love and connection, and that we can’t fake.
What was Ed Helms like on set?
JW: Chewy. [Laughs] His days were numbered… we shot for 18 days and he had four, at the very end of filming. By the time he came to set, there had been about eight of us shooting in a cave for 14 days, so we all knew each other pretty intimately.
DM: We spent all our days off together. We went to this art installation called Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, we got drinks, we got dinners. When Ed came, it was like, “Oh, outsider.” He was the outlier.
The cast was basically covered in dirt for every scene, but one of you manages to whip out an impressive sheet mask out of nowhere.
DM: That would be me. The thought was, we’re down in this cave, we should have nothing with us, it’s a day trip. But for some reason, in my little bag I’ve got a makeup kit, a light-up mirror, and a facemask.
JW: Meanwhile, everyone else is literally deteriorating.
DM: Everyone else is getting dirty and I’m still looking good! [Laughs]
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The Charlie’s Angels reboot hits theaters in November. Demi, as a former cast member, you have any advice for the new regime?
DM: Just have fun and don’t stress. It’s amazing that this show that was on when I was a kid is now having its third life. I mean, Farrah Fawcett and that hairdo and that body in the bathing suit? The smile — the whole deal.
JW: I loved the Charlie’s Angels movies. For my generation, the one [Demi] was a part of is forever seared in my mind. You, Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, that Destiny’s Child rollout. Iconic!