Their marriage came to an unhappy end almost a year ago, but Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, it turns out, can still present a united front. Attending a private fund-raiser hosted by investor Ron Conway in San Francisco earlier this month to combat human trafficking, the exes came together to support a cause they have long championed. “They were both as beautiful as Hollywood movie stars should be,” blogged ex-San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, who was there. And yes, they got along just fine. Says a source in Moore’s circle: “There is interaction [between Demi and Ashton] on a very amicable, friendly level.”
Surprising, perhaps, for a couple whose November 2011 split, in the wake of two cheating scandals that publicly engulfed Kutcher, 34, kicked off Moore’s own annus horribilis. Two months after the breakup, the actress was hospitalized for what multiple sources told PEOPLE was the result of an escalating addiction to prescription drugs, and since then she has faced intense scrutiny of her physical and emotional health. Now, as her milestone 50th birthday approaches on Nov. 11, the actress is working to forge a new path. “She was struggling, and she was sad,” acknowledges a source. “There were things she had to work on. But she is not in a pool of tears on the floor every time something happens.”
While a low-profile Moore focuses on her health, charity work and her film and business projects, her 34-year-old ex has very publicly moved on with 29-year-old actress Mila Kunis. What began as casual dating in early June has evolved into prolific PDA, with the former That ’70s Show stars sharing a romantic autumn in New York City while Kunis shoots The Angriest Man in Brooklyn. “I would have never believed Ashton could get serious this fast,” says a source close to Kutcher. (Multiple friends and business associates close to both stars spoke to PEOPLE but declined to be identified.) “He was so happy to get out from under the stagnant relationship with Demi that he was overeager to play around and have fun. But it didn’t take long to bring him home again.”
How does Moore feel about the blossoming romance? “Jealous and frustrated,” says someone who knows her. “She’s not in a good frame of mind.” Not true, says another source. “There’s no part of her that’s saying, ‘Mila Kunis is so beautiful and young, this is so humiliating.’ What was humiliating was having her husband cheat on her in such a public way. But once that happened, she has not looked back.”
Still, there have been “bumps in the road,” acknowledges the source. The actress herself has spoken about her insecurities, telling Harper’s Bazaar after the split that her biggest fear “is that I’m going to ultimately find out at the end of my life that I’m really not lovable, that I’m not worthy of being loved.” Plagued by self-doubt during her marriage to Kutcher, Moore “was always worried about not being able to compete [with younger women] and hold her sexy image,” says a source close to the Two and a Half Men star. “Ashton wasn’t bothered by their age difference. Demi was.” Multiple sources close to her circle say some friends are worried Moore hasn’t fully recovered. Her thinness is still raising concerns, says one source: “Her friends aren’t convinced she’s all better.” At a recent L.A. dinner party, “she barely spoke,” says another.
Meanwhile Moore and Kutcher have yet to finalize their divorce. The Moore source blames legal red tape: “Attorneys take a long time. She is not stalling that process at all.” A Kutcher source, meanwhile, says details of the prenup have complicated matters-and that the actor has not wanted to push “amidst all of Demi’s personal crises.”
Still, Kutcher has made it clear that he has moved on with Kunis, introducing her to much of his Iowa-based family. “Ashton really wants kids of his own and loves being around them,” says the Kutcher source. “It seems like Mila’s the same.” It’s a sensitive subject for Moore, who wasn’t able to have the children she and Kutcher both yearned for. “It was something they discussed in their relationship,” says a source.
While Kutcher and Kunis heat up, Moore spent part of her summer shooting Very Good Girls in N.Y.C. (She also traveled to Europe to promote Oriflame cosmetics, and The Conversation, the talk show she executive produced for Lifetime, is in talks to return for several specials.) At a performance of the play Dogfight in late July, “she seemed very healthy,” says an observer. Attending the ’80s-themed birthday party for her close pal Soleil Moon Frye in August, she went in costume as her St. Elmo’s Fire character, Jules, and “was quiet, a little more subdued than she’s been in the past,” says a partygoer. In August a source said Moore had begun dating again, but another source close to her says the actress “needs to find some peace within herself before she has another relationship.”
As for her relationship with her daughters Rumer, 24, Scout, 21, and Tallulah, 18, she hasn’t stepped out with them publicly since an awkward appearance at Tallulah’s high school graduation in June, where she sat apart from her daughters and ex-husband Bruce Willis, 57, before leaving abruptly. Moore and her girls talk and text, but “their relationship with her has changed,” says a family friend. “They respect Demi, they love her, they’re still trying to help pick up the pieces as much as they can. But they can only do so much for her.”
Meanwhile Moore is leaning on close friends and her Kabbalah faith. (She and Kutcher recently attended Yom Kippur services on different days in L.A., while Kunis has attended at least one Kabbalah event with Kutcher.) On Oct. 17 Moore was set to step out again in N.Y.C. at a benefit for GEMS, an organization that helps victims of sexual trafficking. As for her upcoming 50th birthday, the source in her circle says she has no big plans to celebrate-but isn’t dreading the milestone either. “She’s not unhappy about turning 50,” says the insider. “She looks beautiful and is feeling good after a really, really tough year.”