“I suppose a lot of what I’m acting out comes out of various areas of distress,
of something mysterious I don’t understand in myself that I’m interested in
finding out about.” Rebecca De Mornay
Versatile actress Rebecca De Mornay has constantly demonstrated herself skillful
at nearly any genre and equally influential no matter how unusual every role
perhaps. The arresting performer with impossible strawberry-blonde hair and
piercing blue eyes who rose to fame with her role as the ambitious call girl in
the runaway box-office hit Risky Business (1983, opposite Tom Cruise), De Mornay
gained even more acclaimed and recognition after portraying the nanny-from-hell
in the highly successful thriller The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992), where
she took home a Cognac Festival du Film Policier Award and a MTV Movie Award.
Other impressive performances include in The Trip to Bountiful (1985), the
thriller Runaway Train (1985), the action Backdraft (1991), Getting Out (1994,
TV), Range of Motion (2000, TV), the miniseries “A Girl Thing” (2001) and Salem
Witch Trials (2002, TV). Her more recent films are the action Lords of Dogtown
and the Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn comedy Wedding Crashers (both 2005), and
she is scheduled to appear in Music Within (2005), Summerhill (2005) and
American Venus (2006). Aside from acting, De Mornay is a director of an episode
of “The Outer Limits” (1995) and an executive producer of the thriller Never
Talk to Strangers (1995).
The fluent French and German speaking actress has shared her life outside the
limelight with her husband of 11 years, Patrick O’Neal, and their daughters,
Sophia and Veronica. The family currently resides in Los Angeles. De Mornay was
formerly married to the writer of 1991 novel “Force Majeure” Bruce Wagner, but
the marriage only lasted for 10 months. Her love life has also been involved to
superstar Tom Cruise (lived together for 2 and a half years), musician-song
writer Leonard Cohen (together in early ‘90s) and actor Harry Dean Stanton.
Summa Cum Laude
Childhood and Family:
Daughter to Wally George (West Coast radio and TV personality), Rebecca George
was born on August 29, 1961, in Santa Rosa, California. Her parents separated
when she was two and her mother was soon remarried to Richard De Mornay. Three
years later, young Rebecca was adopted and changed her last name to De Mornay.
Rebecca is the granddaughter of actress Eugenia Clinchard (born in 1904).
Growing up in Europe, Rebecca attended England’s prestigious Summerhill Boarding
School and earned high school degree in Kitzbuhel, Austria, in which she
graduated summa cum laude. Leaving America at age 5, she returned home in 1980.
She then enrolled in the acclaimed Lee Strausberg Institute in New York.
In 1989, Rebecca met novelist-screenwriter Bruce Wagner at Cannes Film Festival
and they immediately married. However, the couple called it quit ten months
after their wedding. In 1995, Rebecca was married to sportscaster Patrick O’Neal
(born in 1967), the son of actors Ryan O’Neal and Leigh Taylor-Young. With
second husband, Rebecca has two daughters, Sophia (born in 1997) and Veronica
(born on March 31, 2001).
An America-born, Europe-raised Rebecca De Mornay had her acting training at the
New York’s Lee Strausberg Institute, and quickly got a part as an understudies
in the 1982 Francis Ford Coppola’s romantic drama One From the Heart. Within a
year, she made a big move to a leading lady when Paul Brickman paired her with a
green Tom Cruise as a ruthless hooker named Lana in the comedy/crime Risky
Business. The film was a box office hit, and an up-and-coming De Mornay attained
a reputation for herself as a foremost actress.
Her budding talent was established with subsequent roles in Testament (1983) and
The Trip to Bountiful (1985). Still in 1985, De Mornay offered a glamorous
portrayal opposite Jon Voight and Eric Roberts in the Andrei Konchalovsky-helmed
thriller Runaway Train (1985). After making TV movie debut as Claire Dupin in
The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1986), she wrapped out the decade with
performances in such disappointing films as And God Created Woman (1988), Feds
(1988) and Dealers (1989). Also in 1988, the actress hit the stage for the first
time with appearances in “Born Yesterday” at Pasadena Playhouse.
In early 1990s, following roles in television films the Cold War thriller By
Dawn's Early Light (1990) and ABC’s An Inconvenient Woman (1991), the play
“Marat/Sade” (1990, as the frantic Charlotte Corday) and the Ron Howard
star-studded action movie Backdraft (1991, gave a tough supporting turn as Helen
McCaffrey), De Mornay attracted the attention of public with her powerfully
psychotic performance, as manic, implacable nanny Mrs. Mott/Peyton Flanders in
the surprise hit The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992), costarring Annabella
Sciorra. For her efforts, De Mornay was handed a Cognac Festival du Film
Policier for Best Actress and a MTV Movie for Best Villain. She also received a
nomination at MTV Movie for Best Female Performance.
De Mornay then played Jennifer Haines in Guilty as Sin (1993), appeared as
faithless Lady Sabine DeWinter in the enjoyable updated version of The Three
Musketeers (1993) and delivered a strong starring turn as Arlene Holsclaw in the
TV adaptation of Marsha Norman’s play Getting Out (1994). The next year, she
made her TV directorial debut with an episode of the revival of “The Outer
Limits,” where she also had a guest appearance as a woman, and was cast opposite
Antonio Banderas as a multiple personality disorder woman in the thriller Never
Talk to Strangers, which also marked her first credit as executive producer. She
also starred in such films as the thrillers The Winner (1996) and Ron Senkowsk’s
A Table for One (1999), the action Thick as Thieves (1998, with Alec Baldwin),
the comedy The Con (1998, TV, with William H. Macy), the drama Night Ride Home
(1999, TV), and joined Steven Weber in the ABC mini Stephen Kings The Shining
(1997). In 1999, De Mornay had a touching portrayal as Noah Wyle’s cancer
survivor love interest in five episodes of the NBC popular series “ER.”
A starring role opposite Kiefer Sutherland, as a private detective who falls for
the man she was hired to trail in the thriller The Right Temptation (2000) is De
Mornay’s opening film in the new millennium before she finely portrayed Lainey
Berman in the made-for-TV drama Range of Motion (2000), giving evidence she was
in fact proficient of greater things. The gifted actress continued with superb
performances in the miniseries “A Girl Thing” (2001) as one of trio sisters
whose lives are thrown into turmoil when their calculating mother passes away
and the telepic Salem Witch Trials (2002). In 2003, she once again tasted the
waters of thriller genre with the James Mangold-directed Identity, starring John
Cusack, Ray Liotta and Amanda Peet, and the next year, she joined the cast of
ABC’s “The Practice” in the final four episodes as Hannah Rose, a lawyer in lieu
of Alan Shore (James Spader) in his wrongful-termination charge. Still in 2004,
she appeared in the Hilary Duff teen drama Raise Your Voice.
The heartwarming actress teamed up with John Robinson and Emile Hirsch in the
action film Lords of Dogtown (2005), playing Jay Adams’ mother, and was briefly
cast opposite Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in the successful comedy Wedding
Crashers (2005). The 45-year-old De Mornay is set to play roles in Music Within
(2005), Summerhill (2005) and American Venus (2006).
Cognac Festival du Film Policier: Best Actress, The Hand That Rocks the
MTV Movie: Best Villain, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, 1991