What the Hell Happened to Rebecca De Mornay?
Rebecca De Mornay starred opposite Tom Cruise when they were both young actors on the rise. Cruise went on to star in Top Gun and became the biggest movie star in the world. De Mornay, on the other hand, struggled to capitalize on her early success.
What the hell happened?
In 1982, De Mornay was an extra in Francis Ford Coppola’s musical, One From the Heart.
One From the Heart starred Terri Garr and Raul Julia. Coppola had intended to make One From the Heart on the cheap after going over budget on Apocalypse Now. Instead, he insisted on building costly sets which caused the budget to balloon from $2 million to over $25 million.
Unfortunately, One From the Heart grossed just over half a million dollars. As a result, Coppola declared bankruptcy. He has said that the movies he made in the 80′s and 90′s were done to pay off the debts incurred by making One From the Heart.
In 1983, De Mornay starred opposite a young unknown, Tom Cruise in the sex comedy, Risky Business.
Cruise played an over-achieving high school student trying to get into Princeton. When his parents leave him home alone for the weekend, Cruise’s character engages in a little rebellion by raiding the liquor cabinet, cranking up the stereo and dancing around in his underwear.
But his best friend is unimpressed. He takes it upon himself to call a prostitute for Joel against his wishes. Soon, his carefully planned future is turned upside down by one night with a call girl played by De Mornay.
Up until this point, Cruise was just one of the up-and-coming Brat Pack actors. He hung out with the rest of the guys while making The Outsiders. But once he was cast in Risky Business, Cruise knew there were bigger and better things in his future.
I have often said that Cruise rarely has chemistry with his leading ladies. De Mornay in Risky Business was one of the exceptions. The co-stars also dated in real life.
Reviews were positive and Risky Business was a big hit at the box office. It made Cruise a star if not yet a household name. And it put De Mornay on the map. All she needed to do was find the right role to put her over the top.
Later that year, De Mornay appeared opposite Kevin Costner in the Cold War drama, Testament..
If you grew up in the 80′s you remember the being afraid of nuclear war. A month before Testament was released, the TV mini-series The Day After aired on ABC. Both the movie and the mini-series depicted the fall-out from a nuclear war.
The English counterpart to Testament and The Day After was a TV movie called Threads. As much as The Day After scared the hell out of me as a kid, Threads sounds so much scarier.
De Mornay’s role in Testament was a small one. She and Costner played a young couple who decide to leave town after losing their baby.
Testament was originally filmed as a an entry for the PBS TV series, American Playhouse. It received a small theatrical release before eventually airing on PBS. Reviews were mostly positive.
In 1985. De Mornay had three at-bats. The first was the Neil Simon written baseball comedy, The Slugger’s Wife.
De Mornay played a singer who fell in love with a baseball player played by Danny Noonan (aka Michael O’Keefe who apparently continued working after Caddyshack). Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back and hits a home run. Sound familiar?
Reviews were terrible and the movie flopped at the box office. It was nominated for a Golden Raspberry for Worst Song “Oh Jimmy” sung by De Mornay. How awful was “Oh Jimmy”? You be the judge.
I only made it half way through.
Director Hal Ashby was canned during post-production. He encouraged his actors to improvise which did not sit well with the famous playwright.
Later that year, De Mornay appeared opposite Jon Voight and Eric Roberts in the thriller Runaway Train.
Voight and Roberts starred as two men who had escaped from an Alaskan prison. They board a train which has no brakes and no driver. De Mornay played a railway worker who helps them try to stop the runaway engine.
Originally, Tom Berenger was cast in the Eric Roberts role. But when Berenger dropped out to film Platoon, Roberts stepped in. De Mornay replaced Karen Allen from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Animal House.
Reviews were positive and the movie was a hit at the box office. Voight and Roberts were both nominated for Oscars. There wasn’t a lot of glory left over for De Mornay.
De Mornay ended the year with a supporting role opposite Geraldine Page in The Trip to Bountiful,
Page played an elderly woman who wants to return to her home town. Her son and daughter-in-law won’t let her travel alone. She attempts to travel by train, but the train no longer runs to Bountiful. Which is probably just as well given De Mornay’s history with trains. Instead, she boards a bus where she meets a young woman played by De Mornay.
The Trip to Bountiful was a big screen adaptation of a 1953 teleplay. Page won an Oscar for her performance.
In 1985, De Mornay starred in one critical and commercial disaster and had supporting roles in two well-reviewed hits. Oh, and she did this too:
One could say storms were brewin’ in her eyes.
What’s up with the old timey black and white footage and the tornado? If someone could explain the story of Starship’s Sara video to me in the comments section, it would be greatly appreciated. So far all I can figure out is that De Mornay gets drunk and knocks over lamps while attempting to dance 80′s style.
Posted on October 27, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened? and tagged entertainment, movies, Rebecca DeMornay, Risky Business, the hand that rocks the cradle, tom cruise, TV. Bookmark the permalink. 37 Comments.