What the Hell Happened to Rebecca De Mornay?

Rebecca De Mornay

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.

de mornay - risky business

Rebecca De Mornay – Risky Business – 1983

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.

de mornay - risky business 2

Rebecca De Mornay – Risky Business – 1983

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.

de mornay - testament

Rebecca De Mornay and Kevin Costner – Testament – 1983

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.

Next: Runaway Train and A Trip to Bountiful


Posted on October 27, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 99 Comments.

  1. re: Frankly, most of her movies were pretty terrible.

    You kind-of summed it up right there. Further, “The Winner” is one of the WORST movies I’ve ever seen — GREAT cast, AWFUL script, and it’s one of those wants-SO-BADLY-to-be-cool Tarantino knock-offs. In this, if Ms. RDM was any more wooden, she’d be a coffee table. And she was a producer, too.

    She’s a mediocre actress. Of course, that hasn’t stopped many mediocre actresses from having successful careers, but RDM has managed to say “yes” to cinematic turkey after turkey, movie bomb after bomb. Maybe she’ll have better luck with TV.


    • I backed off making any kind of judgement on her acting abilities. I do think she has talent. But she definitely has limitations as well. If you want someone to play a crazy blonde, De Monray’s your top pick. Icy, self-serving call girl – call De Mornay. Beyond that… I dunno.

      Clearly her taste in material skews towards the terrible. And I get the impression that as a producer she took movies that could have been good and pushed them in the wrong direction. Also, I think she chose some roles based on whether or not they would allow her to sing which probably isn’t the best criteria.

      But I do think she has a future on TV.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I stand by what I said: If Ms. RDM were any more wooden in “THE WINNER”…

        And her “FEDS” is one of the few movies that I’ve rented that was SO BAD I COULD NOT FINISH IT…I didn’t even bother to fast-forward to see how it ended. (Gosh, that movie buried Mary Gross, didn’t it?)

        Still, I wish for her all the best icy-blond luck on the small screen.


        • You have me curious to check out The Winner to see just how bad it really is. 😉

          Feds crushed Gross before she even had a chance. Not that women had much of a chance coming off of SNL back then. Hollywood didn’t even know what to do with Gilda Radner.


        • “It’s SO bad it’s almost worth a rental…Whaley’s overacting makes William Shatner seem restrained by comparison.”

          Funny. You keep making me think I need to check it out. Come on Netflix! Add this soon.


        • I guess because I’ve seen Whaley give brief but great performances (in “PULP FICTION” and “HOFFA”) that his showing here stands out in its I-can’t -believe-what-I’m-seeing scenery-chewing! I half-expected him to start doing a Cagney impression and saying, “Yoor the durty rat what killed my bruthah!” But then, the whole movie is a study in turkey-town badness. (For a good slice-of-weirdness gambling movie, rent “HARD 8.”)

          …and try to keep from either laughing or vomiting when D’onofrio says with Archie ‘n’ Jughead earnestness, “You’re like a bit of Heaven on Earth!” to DeMornay.


        • I remember watching Hard 8, but it’s been a long time.

          I’ve seen Whaley in a lot of stuff. At one point, I thought he was going places. What I have seen of his performance in The Winner is way, way over the top. But in a so bad I want to see it way. I’m sure the movie is awful. But it doesn’t look boring.


      • As much as Rebecca De Mornay has grown on me (I mean, I came to to call her Becky!), I agree, her film material isn’t mighty (maybe Mighty Taco, or Taco Bell). Okay, no more “The Slugger’s Wife” for Rebecca De Mornay (I like films from the 1980’s, and even that one doesn’t get past the roadblock for me, and I’m the same person who thinks “Streets of Fire” is an awesome concept. I still do think it’s an awesome concept:-).
        I actually like a few Becky films that most people don’t like: the film she did with Don Johnson, “Guilty As Sin” and that remake of “Mother’s day” (I thought Becky was fierce there; scary, I felt). I find “Never Talk To Strangers” okay, but not a total favorite.


  2. Another great entry in the What the Hell Happened series!

    I watched the Sara video and had such bad 80’s flashbacks that I couldn’t stop alternatively laughing and cringing long enough to focus. However, I think Wiki summed it up well: “The music video for “Sara” prominently features actress Rebecca De Mornay and Thomas in a storyline about a relationship ending, on a dust bowl farm in the midwest, with frequent flashbacks to what is presumably Thomas’s character’s childhood and the tornado that wrecked his home.”

    What struck me is that the woman who plays Thomas’s mother looks like Thomas, only he’s wearing more makeup than she is. So you could say in this video he’s like his mother in drag, which is kind of disturbing and again, I blame the 80’s.

    I have to agree with Shemp regarding DeMornay’s talent level. She always seemed kind of stiff and stilted to me, but as he said, many have had success with even less.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Mom stuff in the Starship video really confused me and creeped me out. It looks like the black and white footage from the Wizard of Oz. How old is this guy? Was he 8 years old in the 1930’s? And why is he equating his mother who apparently disappeared in a tornado with the fiesty drunk blonde who keeps knocking over his furniture? Seriously, this dude has some issues! Totally agree that he looks like what I assume is supposed to be his mom in drag. Just gross.

      I thought she had a real presence in Risky Business. But then, that role played to her strengths. In both RB and THTRtC, it was okay to be stilted.


      • I like Starship, and always followed their career (I think Grace Slick is cool; I prefer Jefferson Airplane though:-), and yeah, I felt the music video was difficult to understand. Even early in the morning, one needs focus, or have Priscilla Barnes as a psychic (ha ha, have to throw film references around, plus I think Priscilla Barnes is fun on “Three’s Company”; now, she’s a hot blonde as well, still?).


  3. Her movies were by and large pretty terrible but I can’t say she’s not a good actress. “Cradle” especially should prove she’s got acting chops. I’m kind of at a temporary loss for words, as this WTHH subject has not been discussed here, and which, definitely, is an excellent choice for the series. 80s was such an interesting decade….


    • I have to admit, I sort of forgot De Mornay existed. Which is weird because I was a pretty big fan back in the day. I saw more of her terrible movies than I am comfortable admitting.

      I was watching TV and saw a clip from RB and nearly fell out of my chair. “What the hell happened to Rebecca De Mornay?!?” I demanded of no one in particular. And then I thought, “Someone should really write an article to answer that question.” Then I remembered that I actually do that and decided to make De Mornay my next subject immediately.

      When I dug up her story, I was actually a little disappointed. There wasn’t anything especially juicy there. Turns out she continued working. She even appeared in some pretty high profile TV shows. But her movie career died a quick and uneventful death.

      Still, my mind was made up. Frankly, De Mornay fits a certain profile that I find is very successful around here. Val Kilmer aside, the most popular articles seem to be actresses from the 80s and 90s who haven’t been heard from in a while. It’s actually better if they weren’t TOO big of a star. If I write about Bridget Fonda or Thora Birch, I’m more likely to end up on the front page of a Google search than if I write about Meg Ryan or Demi Moore. So I’m always kind of looking for the next Phoebe Cates to write about.



      Damn, I forgot how scary Rebecca is in this!! Also, someone named Julianne Moore is in it as well, but I doubt she’ll have a career after this.


  4. How come her career didn’t reignite after Hand That Rocks The Cradle???

    Sun Jun 10 2007 11:23:38

    The Hand the Rocks the cradle did very well at the box office, it was number one at one point and a very high grossing film. Her choices after that were not great, which contributed to her career stall, plus she took time off for her personal life.

    Wed Jun 20 2007 15:56:41

    I did read that Rebecca did turn down a lot of femme fatale roles after The Hand That Rocks The Cradle because she didn’t want to be typecast. Her roles in fare such as Blind Side in which she played the victim. I’d love to have seen Rebecca in Demi Moore’s role in Disclosure for example and wonder why she isn’t cast in some of these other roles which she would be perfect for.

    Fri Jul 27 2007 10:26:25

    I don’t think Angelina is taking any roles from Rebecca. I think _Risky Business_ didn’t do for Rebecca what it did for Tom, even though Rebecca had the harder role (in my opinion), because Rebecca was playing a “loose woman” in a puritanical country. Same happened with Sharon Stone and Demi Moore after _Basic Instinct_ and _Striptease_. People love them for a second, but at the end of the day they’re rejected as prostitutes.

    I think there’s also something to be said for talent here, though. Very few actresses can take on a highly sexual character and live to tell about it, unless they have the chops to immediately transform into a less tawdry character. Glenn Close, for example, survived _Fatal Attraction_ by taking on _Dangerous Liaisons_ the next year. Sure, she played another villain, but not a naked one, and that awesome performance helped dilute the memory of her getting it on with Michael Douglas in a sink, an elevator, etc.

    De Mornay, Moore and Stone, on the other hand, while all fine actresses, are no Glenn Close when it comes to range. De Mornay could never escape her iciness, which can also be said of Stone. And Moore…well, she tries.

    Tue Dec 25 2007 18:54:00

    The January release of THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE was a double edged sword because it probably became a hit because there were no other good movies playing against it (unlike if it played in the summer against all the blockbusters) but then it was as far away as possible from Oscar season and the Oscar voters rarely remember a movie that opened in the first half of the year.

    Just look at ZODIAC which was supposed to be released late last year but got pushed to January and, instead of getting Oscar nominations for Robert Downey Jr. as Best Supporting Actor for example, it’s been forgotten.

    What Kathleen Turner said is true. Once a woman in Hollywood hits 40, the roles dry up and only the mother and grandmother roles come. I mean, Rebecca was playing the grandmother of a 13 year old at the age of 47 on that show on HBO this year.

    Meanwhile, Harrison Ford is jumping around in another INDIANA JONES flick at 70!

    At this rate, it’d probably be a good idea to do Dancing With The Stars so she can get her face in front of a lot of people’s eyes (other actors on that show had mini comebacks from doing DWTS).

    I always say that Alfred Hitchock would have known what to do with Rebecca’s iciness. She’d have followed the Grace Kelly/Janet Leigh/Tippi Hedren lead well.

    Wed Feb 13 2008 06:25:20

    She has a huge body of work and I’ve been in love with her every since Risky Business but just looking for pics of her today on the net. There really isn’t much out there about her… It’s like she’s a recluse or something.

    Either she has a bad manager or a lousy publicist or she actually is as crazy as alot of her roles are. Or she has booze or drug issues or is the biggest bitch in town.

    It’s a mystery, but I love her regardless. I just want to get her on a subway:-)

    Sun Mar 30 2008 19:03:31

    While The Hand That Rocks The Cradle was a huge hit, grossed a lot, and was a fantastic star vehicle for Rebecca, I don’t think it was ever going to be a role she got an oscar for. Although she did great, showed a lot of range, and finally found a director who utilised her talents, it was more of a popcorn movie than an oscar contender. Along the same lines as a Scream, or Single White Female.

    It was a great role though and she should have been able to capitalise and run with that success. I think some bad decisions and bad luck contributed to this happening though she has remained steady. Blindside was a weird follow up choice, i guess chosen so she could play a victim instead of the heavy. While it was a decent thriller, it was a TV movie so got limited exposure. Guilty as Sin and The Three Musketeers were supposed to be her capitalising hits. Seeemingly good choices on her part, Sidney Lumet is an amazing visionary director, The Three Musketeers a proven hit with an all star cast. Guilty as Sin was generally critically panned and didnt sell at the box office, and The Three Musketeers, while a reasonable hit, didnt really do anything for or against any of it’s actors, it just kind of got ignored.

    Getting Out was a great role and a fantastic script, but again for cable TV so not much exposure. Never Talk to Strangers was supposed to be her next big movie, looked a good choice with a great stage director, crazy twist ending, and the smoking hot Antonio Banderas as her co-star, and Rebecca executive producing, but again a bomb and not the best performances and quite a lame thriller. Then The Winner was a new sort of role for Rebecca, a quirky black comedy with a great ensemble cast and Independent director (Alex Cox), but it got lost into DVD obscurity as there were huge director and producer clashes in the cuts, edits, and score for the film, resulting in Alex wanting to remove his name from the film and refusing to promote it. So this was real bad luck and a lot of people didnt get to see this new side of Rebecca. So a combo of bad roles, bad movies, and bad luck halted her capitalisation over the few years following Hand.

    From there, 1997, it had been 3-4 years since a huge hit for Rebecca and by that time it was a bit too late to capitalise on this success as she was only lukewarm once again. She also had her first and second children following this so took more breaks and time off for this. She spent the remainder of the 90s and early 2000s alternating between the stage, TV, made for television dramas and thrillers, and mini series, still doing well as a mini star, but by no means at the level she could have been.

    As others have said, a change in agents a few years ago has seen her swap from starring roles on TV movies and direct to DVDS, to supporting roles in studio movies with a lot more exposure, Identity, Lords of Dogtown, Raise Your Voice, The Wedding Crashers. These all led to her getting John from Cinncinati’s female lead which though cancelled after 1 season was highly debated for HBO. She has also been making a lot more appearances at premieres and events since this agent change. So a lot more exposure recently (including her drink driving charge which was probably exposure for the wrong reason), and I would say she is probably hotter now than she was around 97-02 though not as much as she was around 83-86 or 91-94. i’m excited to see what happens next for her.

    Wed Sep 24 2008 16:17:19

    She just never got the roles that could have made her a superstar a la Michelle Pfeiffer.
    The Three Musketeers was not a good movie,although De Mornay was not bad as Milady, she was not as good as Faye Dunaway. To be fair, the changes made from the Dumas novel destroyed the character, and De Mornay did not have the chance to be villianous the way Dunaway did.

    She just never got the follow up roles she needed.

    Mon May 17 2010 09:13:49

    Can’t speak about her 80’s career, but post cradle..she picked too many TV movies a lot of them were meaty roles for female characters which is prob why she did them, but diving to TV after such a big cinematic hit was a sure way to kill things off..

    Also though Don Johnson is a great actor he was never a big box office star so Guilty as Sin really was a bomb that didnt help either.

    She looked so different in Identity i didnt even recognise her (still smoking though).

    Thu Jul 7 2011 01:28:39

    Rebecca’s body of work speaks for itself. Most projects had strong central female characters which showed some integrity on De Mornay’s part, and I think she wanted more creative control and money. With that you take a hit on whatever happens personally to a greater extent, and basically that’s where her career has taken her. I like the choices she’s made, and I certainly thought she was great in Mother’s Day basically reprising her role in Cradle. It could have been so much weaker yet De Mornay carried the pic with a limited budget and made it very good.

    Not everyone becomes Tom Cruise-one of her first co-actors in Risky Business. She also still is around while many of her contemporary acting peers are long gone-especially the women.


    • re: Meanwhile, Harrison Ford is jumping around in another INDIANA JONES flick at 70!

      It’d be funny to see Indy’s whip get tangled in his walker!

      As far as aging male actors “in action” go, this is truly hilarious:


    • The Hand that Rocks the Cradle:

      She did a string of films after …Rocks the Cradle, some good, some forgettable. I always say that Rebecca had two high phases to her career: Risky Business made her famous and led to a string of movies, and then she had a second go of mega-fame with …Rocks the Cradle.


      reply 29 03/12/2012

      Rebecca would be utterly forgotten now if not for this movie! It definitely reignited her career for a time. She did the thriller with Don Johnson “Guilty as Sin” and played Milady de Winter in “The Three Musketeers” (being practically the only thing decent in it.) She headlined a miniseries, too. Then receded away again…


      reply 31 03/13/2012


      • Episode 179 – The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

        On this week’s episode, the gang gets skeeved out by the ultra-white, 90s, domestic thriller, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle! How in the world did the news station show our protagonist’s picture on TV? Why do they keep singing lines from The H.M.S. Pinafore? And why won’t this husband get mad?! PLUS: How you don’t act at a surprise party.

        The Hand That Rocks the Cradle stars Annabella Sciorra, Rebecca De Mornay, Matt McCoy, Ernie Hudson, Julianne Moore and John de Lancie; directed by Curtis Hanson.


  5. Danielle Charney

    Ultimately, as you and others always say- the public makes the star- it’s not like she hadn’t gotten her shots- they didn’t stick- as you compared the lack luster career of Tea Leoni – who I love and think is so talented- as for Runaway Train- no one could have starred over that incredible script- think is was George Malichevich and directing- MIlos Foreman- if anyone stuck out beyond that and the relentless beat it was Voight- Eric Roberts is another one- very competent – good looking- never really caught on – sorry for not double checking the facts and spelling on RT- or Kursawa reincarnated – Rebecca was in the player- briefly as I remember- she just never did a thing for me- neither did Greta Saatchi who everyone thinks is great- bland to me – both of them


  6. Danielle Charney

    is there an edit button? so sorry – next time I will edit- and fact check – forgive me – raging fever


  7. I saw her on a guest spot on Hawaii Five-O a few new nights ago. I thought, wow, that woman looks like Rebecca De Mornay. It was!


    • I was surprised by how much TV work she has been doing in recent years. You would think it would make entertainment headlines for an 80s movie star to be appearing on so many TV shows. But apparently no one cares.

      She looks absolutely fantastic. So I think if she gets on a halfway decent evening soap, she’s got a real chance at a TV comeback.


      • That’s a good point! She has that “steely” look. She could definitely play the ‘evil queen/matriarch’ type on a prime time show. Although it might not pan out if it’s a knock-off show of … “Revenge” (not that I watch the show, I just see Madeline Stowe playing the mean matriarch…what the hell happened to her?!)


  8. ABC Family is adapting “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”:

    The 1992 film starring Rebecca De Mornay is poised for a remake.


    • There was barely enough story to fill a movie. There is no way this can be good.


    • RIP Curtis Hanson

      It is. I just meant that genre was becoming tired at that point in time. The same year saw the release of Unlawful Entry and Single White Female, so the whole “psycho stalker” trend that started with Fatal Attraction was played out.

      But Hand That Rocks the Cradle surprised me. The first 10-15 minutes really does an effective job setting up Rebecca De Mornay’s mental state and why she targets that family. If anything, it’s more of a revenge thriller than a psycho stalker flick(although it has elements of the latter, of course). The twist is that where we usually follow the protagonist on their quest for payback, here the main character is the villain.


  9. Is ABC Fam becoming the new Lifetime/LMN,perhaps????


  10. Another excellent article, with a wrothy subject.

    I think De Mornay’s problem was that, while talented and good-looking, there was something icy about her looks.

    It worked perfectly in “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”, but otherwise she looked “unwelcoming” as an actress.

    Funny enough, her father Wally George had a warmer screen presence than her.


    Side note since she was mentioned:

    Is Hilary Duff the only Disney starlet to not whore out?


    • Glad you liked it.

      She was definitely the icy blonde. Hitchcock probably would have loved her. Problem was while she made a lot of thrillers, she didn’t have Hitchcock-level directors. Curtis Hanson was decent, but other than that she was mostly working with hacks.

      On Duff: No, she’s not the only one. There are a lot of Disney Channel actresses out there. But most of the ones who have gone on to any level of success have felt the need to do something to show how “edgy” they are and to break away from their Disney image. I suppose Duff should be congratulated for not going that route.


  11. “In 2004, De Mornay appeared opposite Hilary Duff in Raise Your Voice. Remember Duff? Raise Your Voice was supposed to establish her as a movie star. Instead, it bombed and all of her roles went to her rival, Lindsay Lohan.”

    And yet Hilary is pretty much in a better place than Lindsay nowadays. Funny how things turn out.


    • In her personal life, I’m sure that’s true. Professionally, I think Lohan is still a bigger earner. She has more trouble getting insured, etc. But she’s still more in demand than Duff.


      • re: (La Lohan) in demand

        AS WHAT? I can hear the lunchtime conversation now: “Sid, we need an actress we’ll have trouble insuring, plus she’ll have to be a snotty diva that shows up LATE to the set and can’t get along with ANYone, ever America Ferarra. What are our options…besides Kath Heigl, I mean?”


        • I absolutely don’t buy the notion that Lindsay Lohan is in greater “demand” now a days than say Hilary Duff. Lindsay is of course, in the news more often due in no small part to her personal problems. However, how exactly is Lindsay otherwise in “demand” (other than her negative notority creating an immediate “buzz” so to speak) when she otherwise has trouble getting insured and has already developed a reputation for being a diva? To me, that argument sounds really counterproductive.


        • But what has Duff got going on?

          I will say this, Duff has more stuff on tap for 2014. But she’s been off everyone’s radar forever. Lohan can still deliver an audience. Duff can’t. For now at least, Lohan wins.


        • Is her reputation toxic? Yes. But she’s also getting more high profile gigs than Duff. When’s the last time Duff hosted Saturday Night Live? Lohan frequently gets big ratings when she makes a TV appearance. Her Playboy issue broke records. Let’s compare their IMDB entries for the last two years:


          Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (TV Series)
          – Episode dated 26 September 2013 (2013) … Stephanie
          2013 The Canyons
          2013 Anger Management (TV Series)
          Lindsay Lohan
          – Charlie Gets Lindsay Lohan Into Trouble (2013) … Lindsay Lohan
          2013 Scary MoVie
          Lindsay Lohan
          2013 InAPPropriate Comedy
          2012 Liz & Dick (TV Movie)
          Elizabeth Taylor
          2012 Glee (TV Series)
          Lindsay Lohan
          – Nationals (2012) … Lindsay Lohan

          Two and a Half Men (TV Series)
          – Cows, Prepare to Be Tipped (2013) … Stacey
          2013 Raising Hope (TV Series)
          – The Old Girl (2013) … Rachel
          2012 Wings
          Windy (English version, voice)
          2012 Foodfight!
          Sunshine Goodness (voice)
          2012 She Wants Me
          Kim Powers

          I’m not saying Lohan’s career is especially vital right now. But Duff is basically stuck in direct-to-video/TV movie land. Lohan can still generate some big money in the right project.


        • Why Hilary Duff’s career hasn’t gone further beyond “Lizzie Maguire”, I really don’t know? I think it was generally excepted or believed that Lindsay Lohan was going to have a more successful career as an adult actress. If I had to make a guess, I would say that Hilary never really had her “Mean Girls” (which on its own, helped Lindsay be able to make a hit movie w/o Disney’s help) to serve as a platform/bridge for more edgy or adult roles. It seemed like Hilary kept “playing it safe” (I think her mother had a huge part in managing her career) w/ otherwise bland chick flick type movies. By the time Hilary tried to cross over into something considerably edgier (e.g. “War Inc.”), her main fan-base had more than likely grown up and moved on.


  12. Actors/actresses who blew their careers (movie, TV shows, character):

    Faye Dunaway took a big career dive after starring in Mommy Dearest. Until then, she was having a long-lasting and hot career, but her character was so hated it rubbed off on her.

    Another near career killer was Angela Landsbury’s wicked mother in the Manchurian Candidate. Until then, Landsbury had always been the sweet lady, and was often in musicals. Her son in the movie was actually only 3 years younger than she was, but her she played her role so convincingly, was so deeply evil, it took her a long time to come back.

    Rebecca DeMornay and Jamie Lee Curtis also played crazy/evil moms. DeMornay’s career suffered, but Curtis’ career didn’t. I think Curtis’ girl next door demeanor and looks possibly made the difference.

    Villain roles played by women often make or break a career if the movie is a hit and the actress really does a good job. Psycho female portrayals often can make or revive a career, but if the role is too close to most people’s real life experiences, it sometimes hurts them a lot. Male actors, for whatever reasons, don’t suffer this nearly as much.


  13. I agree that she can make a comeback, and the way for them to do that is to cast her as what she is, a very sexy woman who looks great for her age. Don’t try to be what you aren’t, though that’s what acting is all about, right? Still, the way back is for her sexiness to be used, such as Stiffler’s evening the score.

    From there, she can maybe play more serious roles. But the turht is, why go for one or the other…many sexy women can be serious at the same time. Look at her in that picture with Stiffler. Now, pull her hair back into a ponytail and put some glasses and a lab coat on her. Instant sexy older scientist working on a cure for an ongoing pandemic, right?


  14. WTHHT Becky DeM~? This, sadly — I haven’t seen it but LOOK at the reviews!

    I only learned of this because I scanned the ‘new releases’ display at the Redbox by the supermarket near my house…jeez.


    • Yeah. Really bad reviews even for this kind of movie. But at this point in her career, a gig is a gig. I feel worse for Mischa Barton who surely didn’t see her career going this far south this fast.


  15. Kathleen Turner and Rebecca De Mornay: From Here to Maternity:

    They were two of the ’80s hottest sex symbols, breaking out in Body Heat and Risky Business. But movie stardom is a truly risky business, and now Kathleen Turner and Rebecca De Mornay find themselves fiftysomethings, and big-screen leading roles are few and far between. Still, this Mother’s Day weekend, they’re back with a vengeance as very different Moms from Hell in new movies debuting simultaneously in theaters and on VOD: Mother’s Day and The Perfect Family.

    Like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, who went from femme fatales (The Letter, Mildred Pierce) to mére fatales (The Wicked Stepmother, Strait-Jacket), Turner and De Mornay have been making this transition for years in films like Serial Mom and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. And while the tones of their new films vary wildly—Mother’s Day is a gory horror flick and The Perfect Family is a calm domestic dramedy—their characters have shocking similarities. They’re both powerfully intimidating matriarchs who are determined to maintain an idyllic facade despite the rampant dysfunction among their offspring.

    Turner’s Eileen Cleary has a pregnant lesbian daughter (a well-cast Emily Deschanel), a soon-to-divorce son (Parenthood‘s appealing Jason Ritter)—and a skeleton of her own in the closet. She’s been nominated as Catholic Woman of the Year, and you can’t help but imagine Turner channeled some of her own frustration with the Oscars to understand her character’s determination to win. She’s been nominated only once, for Peggy Sue Got Married, despite award-worthy turns in Body Heat, Prizzi’s Honor and The War of the Roses (and if they’d ever given out Oscars for voiceovers, she should’ve won for Jessica Rabbit). The Perfect Family is a minor film, but Turner’s presence—and performance—are major.

    As for Mother’s Day, well, if you can’t say something nice… Sadly, it doesn’t seem like De Mornay or Turner will be finding movie vehicles worthy of their talents anytime soon. As Turner revealed during her uproarious recent Q&A at the Montclair Film Festival, she has no film projects planned and will continue to concentrate on stage work. And De Mornay—who had an uncredited cameo in American Reunion—has only the unpromising Apartment 1303 3D and Escort Service coming up. Of course, she started out as an escort in Risky Business, but what a difference 30 years makes. To quote the movie, “Sometimes you’ve gotta say, ‘What the f***?’”


  16. My grandfather had an old pickup truck with a heavy duty four speed manual transmission. Every morning in the summer we would head off to work in the truck. My grandfather would first grind on the starter to get the motor started; grinnd, griiiind cough, cough wheeze before the engine started. The the gears would grind when putting it into first gear. Grind, grind lurch as the truck began to move. Then grind, lurch, cough as the truck reached second gear. And so it went all for the lack of a little maintenance and repair.

    It appears as though the beautiful and talented Rebecca De Mornay needs better professional guidance to help smooth out her career. Maybe a little more care in her selections, and a little more work on her acting skills to help her attract the better roles. All that being said I really like her.

    Just like my grandfather’s truck, she can’t seem to get things into gear.

    Brad Deal


    • She’s moving on to TV which I am hopeful will be a good fit. She looks absolutely stunning. I’m not even going to say “for her age”. I think TV audiences may rediscover DeMornay.

      Let me just say that I love the style of your comments. You don’t just make a point. You tell a story. I would never have thought to compare DeMornay to an old pickup truck, but it works.


  17. Starship’s Sara video is about a man who’s relationship with his love is failing. The video harkens back to his youth where the family farm is located in the Dust Bowl. He loses his mother and his home to a devastating tornado. The memories of these childhood events are brought to the surface as his current girlfriend leaves the farm, and him behind. The similarities between losing his mother and girlfriend combine to increase the emotional pain. The part where the girlfriend is dancing in color are the recent memories of the happy times spent together.

    Or maybe it has something to do with Toto and the yellow brick road?


    • That’s the closest anyone has come to a sensible explanation of the Sara video. I’ll take it! It actually makes sense. There’s a decades-old mystery solved. Now I can move on to obsessing over something else. Maybe Ah-Ha’s Take On Me video. Thanks!


      • What’s not to understand.. a beautifully done video (love the song) using both B&W and color…. the comic book hero comes to life, and the lucky girl gets to go and live in his world instead of returning to this one…


  18. When I think of Risky Business…I remember Rebecca in that role…NOT Tom…she smouldered…that is all….


  19. 10 Actors Who Profited From Films That Ruined Careers:

    1. Tom Cruise – Risky Business

    It might seem to many as if Tom Cruise sticks himself on autopilot and plays nothing other than the near-flawless action hero these last two decades, but earlier in his career he was known for playing slightly more varied roles. His first, Risky Business, is a far cry from the chisel-jawed stunt-performing characters we’re more familiar with.

    Risky Business’s satirical slant on the greed and materialism of the 1980s remains every bit as relevant today as it did back then (perhaps even more so), and Cruise’s performance was energetic and memorable enough for the studios to take note. Cocktail, Rain Man, The Colour Of Money and a seemingly endless string of hits soon followed and Cruise’s bankability hasn’t really wavered since.

    While Risky Business can be said to have been something of a breakthrough role for co-star Rebecca DeMornay (if you’re feeling particularly generous), her career ended up nowhere near as profitable, and it’s unlikely you’ll be familiar with anything she’s been in over the last twenty years.


  20. Rebecca De Mornay joins ‘Hatfields & McCoys’ pilot, January 17 2015


  21. Nostalgia Critic: The Shining Mini-Series

    Let Nostalgia-ween begin with the always classic Stephen King Mini-Series!


  22. By the time you get to De Mornay after you’re done on Steve Guttenberg, there’s also the 1990 HBO flick By Dawn’s Early Light as well as her appearance in 2010’s Flipped, alongside fellow WTHH alumni Penelope Ann Miller among other recent stuff she has done.


  23. I caught about the last 45 minutes of “Runaway Train” on the Escape channel. Wow, I forgot how much I liked that film, and have to catch it in its entirety the next time it’s on and I’m available. “The Slugger’s Wife” was mentioned in the “Awesome Facts You Need to Know” on “Fright Night”, and “Runaway Train” was released the same year as both pictures. It’s not a starring vehicle for De Mornay, but she plays an important role in the plot, and it is so much better than ol’ slugger (love those Braves uniforms though).
    It’s a role (“Runaway Train”) I haven’t De Mornay play very often: dressed down and gritty, and this was early in her career. Later on she mostly played Femme Fatales, Sexpots, or Cougar time.


    • The timing of this comment is funny. Last night I was preparing a future article on De Mornay that talks about some of these movies. Coming soon…


      • I have to give credit to the Escape channel and the “Fright Night” awesome facts article for the timing. It really got my mind on track, like a runaway train.


        • I’m finding that by writing more articles on a wider variety of subjects there are synchronicities where topics feed into one another. Some of it is planned. Obviously the fact I am writing about horror this month will automatically involve some overlap. But some of it is just dumb luck. That or the fact that if you take a shotgun approach you’re going to hit something.


        • Here’s something else: Rebecca De Mornay & Eric Roberts were both in “Runaway Train” and also had a segment on the A&E series “Celebrity Ghost Stories”. I ask, how come all these celebrities see ghosts, and I can’t see boo?


        • Lol. They may have some kind of assistance that isn’t available to folks like us. 😉


        • Maybe that’s it then:-). I thought this was worth mentioning since it involved ghosts, so it also fits within the theme of the month.


  24. weird article. she is a bigger star and has been in more movies and proved herself a better actress than tom cruise many times over. very strange! tom cruise is like a pop culture icon.. the same thing as a brand name on a clothing line even if a $500 shirt falls apart and is made in china… she is a much better actress! most stars that aren’t in the limelight all the time are better at their craft.thats well known.


    • I like her and think she’s a fine actress, but she’s definitely not feel a headliner for at least two decades. That doesn’t really matter to me, and I’ve gotten the impression that she’s learned to live with how her career has gone. besides, I think sometimes it’s better to be a working performer than someone that is highly sought out by the media and has zero alone time.


      • what prompted me to come here was that I just watched her in “getting out” on youtube and it was an excellent performance. it got better and better as the movie went on too…


  25. Holy Sh**!! I did not recognize Rebecca De Mornay in “Jessica Jones”!!-i-did-not-recognize-rebecca-de-mornay-in-jessica-jones-

    Rebecca De Mornay appears in three episodes of “Jessica Jones” on Netflix. She plays Jessica Jones’ adoptive mother.

    I did not recognize her at all. On the third episode, I thought, “I wonder how old that actress is?” So, I looked up the episode to check the age of the actress, and I saw it was Rebecca De Mornay! I was like, “Holy Sh**!”

    She is virtually unrecognizable! She looks nothing like the Rebecca De Mornay from Risky Business or Peyton Flanders.

    It’s too bad she’s stuck doing these recurring guest starring roles. She doesn’t even get any “Special Guest Star” billing. What happened to her? How come she doesn’t have the career that Tom Cruise has?

    —Anonymous (728 views)

    29 replies 2712/30/2015


  26. Apparently she shaved three years off her age. Didn’t come out until after her career fizzled. Otherwise this would’ve been escandaloso, ala Jessica Chastain or Rebel Wilson recently.


  27. Best and Worst of 2016 – Bad Movie Beatdown

    Go to the 3:41 mark, where “I Am Wraith” w/ Rebecca and John Travolta is discussed among 2016’s worst movies.


  28. My best guess on the story for the “Sara” music video is that when Sara leaves Mickey Thomas’ home, for him it conjures up images of how lonely & lost it must’ve felt for people living on secluded farms during the Dust Bowl, which is how he is feeling now that Sara is gone.


  29. My wild summer with Tom Cruise: Women, Sean Penn and the making of ‘Risky Business’


    • I’m not trying to dog the Cruise cruise here (I had braces as a teenager, AND had extra teeth in my mouth that had to be removed. Hot!), but when Curtis Armstrong mentions his perfect teeth, that was bridge work, so he shouldn’t have felt so self-conscious.


    • Tom Cruise’s VERY Risky Business: Co-star claims A-lister juggled ‘B*** j*** and Bible study’ on set of cult classic movie AND had an affair with costar Rebecca De Mornay

      Tom Cruise had a romance with Risky Business co-star Rebecca De Mornay. This comes from Curtis Armstrong, their co-star in the 1983 movie. The actor made the claim in his new tell-all book Revenge of the Nerd. ‘It’s no secret that Tom engaged in an intense affair during the shooting with De Mornay,’ he wrote. At the time the beautiful blonde was dating actor Harry Dean Stanton, who was 33 years older than she.


      • I don’t know if there’s greater detail in that book, but Armstrong mentions the Cruise cruise & De Mornay being hot & heavy, then drops it for discussing. Harry Dean Stanton hanging around the set and swimming in the pool, all the while Cruise adjusts his sights (and his package) by running a string of females through his room (and being touchy, defensive, and hypocritical about the whole thing; I guess he didn’t change much). I don’t know, I like De Mornay’s choice of men like Harry Dean Stanton and Leonard Cohen (it’s closing time!), but the Cruise cruise, the little I know about him, it seems to me that the guy has always lacked a core identity, and maybe that’s the secret to his Hollywood success, other than his drive, that there’s nothing real to him other than being a movie star.
        Anyway, De Mornay said in that Movieline interview that Cruise and her got together AFTER “Risky Business”, so I’ll stick with that, since the book excerpt doesn’t say anything to debunk that.


  30. Actors/Actresses Who Were Once Big/Almost Big But Now Have Seemingly Vanished

    Rebecca DeMornay. Huge hit with Risky Business (and lots of attention for dating Tom Cruise), then basically disappears. Then pulls off a near miracle by headlining another huge hit a decade later, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, and disappears again.


    reply 41 6 hours ago

    [R41] – I was a big fan of De Mornay’s after The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (the first thing I remember seeing her in before tracking down her back catalogue) and the reason her career didn’t take off is that, as she said during an interview in Movieline magazine, she was happy to be a “mini-star”. I don’t think she ever really felt obliged to do what it takes to be a huge star like her Risky Business co-star Tom Cruise. Plus she didn’t want to be typecast and so turned down quite a few roles (including Joan Cusack’s role in Addams Family Values) because she didn’t want to repeat herself which is a shame as she’s great at playing psychos.

    When she signed on for multiple episodes of The Practice, it was in her contract to continue with the spin-off Boston Legal which she never ended up doing and it’s never been explained why. According to an interview she did while shooting The Practice she seemed to enjoy the experience and I would have thought her bitchy character would have created plenty of drama on the spin-off. Instead, they inserted Monica Potter who had nothing to do because David E. Kelly never bothered to create a character for her. They just replaced one blonde with another before Potter finally got fed up enough to quit.


    reply 48 6 hours ago


  31. I’ve decided that Rebecca De Mornay is my fourth favorite actress (Diane Lane, Nicole Kidman, and Sharon Stone are my top three).She sounds smart & cool.


  32. Still a blonde bombshell! Risky Business hottie Rebecca De Mornay steps out with lookalike daughter in LA


    • My goodness, I can’t agree. Who out there looks Rebecca De Mornay? Even better, who acts like our Becky?


    • So, I studied the photo a bit; yeah, Rebecca De Mornay has sired a good daughter, but I’m still more into Rebecca!


      • Has she commented on Harry Dean’s passing? Interesting that she was in long relationships with two geezers then ends up having kids by a guy 8 years her junior.

        Never thought Becky was beautiful, blonde hair blue eyes yes but not beauty. Just like Debbie Reynolds, Jenny Mccarthy etc. Many would say so about Uma Thurman but I actually disagree there.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh no, I didn’t hear that Becky commented on Harry Dean Stanton; maybe it’s a private thing? I don’t know. Maybe they lost touch (I never like that)? My mom, she ran a restaurant with this older Greek guy, so I can understand young ladies liking older guys.


        • I think Diane Lane is beautiful, but Becky here? Very attractive to me:-)


  33. ER All Episodes Talk: What’s Up Doc?

    ON 8/2/2017 AT 6:18 AM, CPCATHY SAID:
    What is up with Rebecca DeMornay’s character? Her acting is horrible, I thought she was supposed to be insane (missed a few episodes). Does she just have some sort of breast cancer? In a scene yesterday with Carter, Noah Wylie was good but she was awful!

    The entire storyline was weird. She was terrible, seemed to be drugged or something. She played a woman who was the ex-wife of one of Carter’s cousins and, when she came to the ER after a fender bender, she and Carter had a fling. In the midst of that, she turned out to have breast cancer and Corday did a mastectomy. Carter violated her privacy all over the place when he happened to see her going to see Elizabeth for a preop visit, which was very creepy. Then, despite the fact that it was merely a fling, Carter stalked her postop and came to her apartment without invitation to make out with her, which somehow led to her feeling better about losing her breast. She then went to Europe and wasn’t seen again. It was a really creepy storyline, IMO.


  34. The scary twins from The Shining thought the made-for-TV remake was “crap”


  35. Why did Rebecca De Mornay struggle to capitalize on her early successes like Risky Business and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle?

    Omar Judah, DADA (MA); MS;HOM (Ph.D) Defence Against Dark Arts & Muggle Studies, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wiza…
    Answered Wed
    It could be a number of factors: attitude, work ethic, incompetent agent, Hollywood hierarchy/privilege, family issues, etc. I was going to pass on this answer because I assumed the “answer” was obvious. But I pondered & realized not so. I put a lot thought to this answer & this is what I remember:

    What I remember & know from my previous Hollywood-obsessed days, is that De Mornay still had to face off against the Big 4 of that era: Michelle Pfeiffer; Molly Ringwald; Meryl Streep; & Sigourney Weaver .

    Rebecca struggled to capitalize on her hit movies because there were a minimum of 4 dominant women in the game with equal or bigger hits than Risky Business & The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. Another prime factor is that only in Cradle was Rebecca the dominant, stand-out performance. Unlike Michelle in Married to the Mob, Tequilla Sunrise, & Dangerous Liaisons; Molly in Sixteen Candles & Pretty in Pink; Sigourney in Aliens (no, not Alien), Working Girl; & Gorillas in the Mist; and Meryl in pretty much every movie she was in during the 80s.

    Rebecca De Mornay was a victim of circumstance, not that she doesn’t have talent—she does. There were simply 3 greater actresses on the scene & at least one over-hyped sensationalized actress that Rebecca had to compete with. She was outnumbered and not part of the bigger blockbusters of that era.

    Keith Hisey, Researcher, Explorationist, Manager at Geology
    Answered 4h ago
    Not everyone aspires to be a “star” and earn millions. Rebecca had two daughters along the way, in 1991 and 1997 and stayed pretty busy along the way. I would compare her career to Jennifer Aniston. Rebecca has been in 33 movies and 23 TV shows a total of 56 in 31 years. Aniston has been in 62 movies and or TV shows in 29 years. Not too big a difference, and Anniston gave up a marriage so as to NOT have kids.


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