Leonard Cohen and Rebecca De Mornay Go Steady, Get Engaged, Break Up


For five years or so (accounts, as they tend to do, vary) in the early 1990s, Leonard Cohen and Rebecca De Mornay were in a relationship that progressed through a phase “a press officer call[ed] ‘an exclusive dating situation'”1 and into an engagement that was eventually broken off because, according to Cohen, “finally she [Rebecca De Mornay] saw I was a guy who just couldn’t come across. … In the sense of being a husband and having more children and the rest.”2


  1. The Joking Troubadour of Gloom by Tim Rostron. The Daily Telegraph, April 26, 1993 []
  2. Leonard Cohen: Several Lifetimes Already By Pico Iyer. Shambhala Sun. Sept 1998 []

“Some moments in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle were as fine as anything I’ve seen by you [Rebecca De Mornay] or anyone else” Leonard Cohen

In 1993, Leonard Cohen, the singer-songwriter and poet who was perhaps the world’s greatest interviewee, switched roles to interview Rebecca De Mornay, the gorgeous movie actress who was, for a time, Mr. Cohen’s fiancée. The following excerpt is from From Knowing Rebecca de Mornay Like Only Leonard Cohen Can by Leonard Cohen with William Claxton. Interview magazine. June 1, 1993:

Leonard Cohen: What would you say was your finest moment on the screen?

Rebecca De Mornay: What would you say?

Leonard Cohen: I thought some moments in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle were as fine as anything I’ve seen by you or anyone else, such as the moment where you beat up the bathroom with a shovel. Or was it a plunger?

Rebecca De Mornay: It was a plunger.

Leonard Cohen: I thought that was a rare moment of a woman’s anger onscreen.

Rebecca De Mornay: It’s a very difficult thing for people to accept, seeing women act out anger on the screen. We’re more accustomed to seeing men expressing rage and women crying.

Leonard Cohen On Rebecca De Mornay – After Their Breakup

People think of her as this beautiful bosomy blonde, but she’s a very brilliant woman. She’s a good songwriter and an excellent singer.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

From A Purple Haze To A Purple Patch by Adam Sweeting (The Canberra Times: July 24, 1994)

Leonard Cohen Blames His Decreased Reading On LA Times & Identifies “The Last Book [He] Really Studied” 1992

The “very, very brilliant” woman he’s seeing who does the LA Times crossword every morning is Rebecca De Mornay.

Leonard Cohen Reading List

The book referenced by Leonard Cohen, I Am That is a compilation of talks on Shiva Advaita (Nondualism) philosophy by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, a Hindu spiritual teacher who lived in Mumbai. I Am That is the latest entry to the Leonard Cohen Reading List, a compilation of books commended by the Canadian singer-songwriter.

The quotation is from An Interview With Leonard Cohen by Rob O’Connor (Downtown, Feb 12, 1992). This article was contributed by Dominique BOILE. Photo of crossword by Brian Aydemir. Originally posted Aug 6, 2012 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Leonard Cohen On Rebecca De Mornay, Crazy To Love You, & Songs That “Illuminate The Moment”

[Love] is a risky business. In fact Rebecca De Mornay [Leonard’s ex-fiancée] just visited here. I just played her the record, just a couple of hours ago. She liked that song ‘Crazy To Love You,’ ‘I had to go crazy to love you, I had to go down to the pit, I had to go crazy to love you, I had to let everything fall. I had to be people I hated, I had to be no one at all. Tired of choosing desire, I’ve been saved by a blessed fatigue, the gates of commitment unwired and nobody trying to leave.’  So that’s the way I describe the moments in a certain process ‘Thanks for the dance, thanks for all the dances, it’s been hell, it’s been swell, it’s been fun. Thanks for the dance, thanks for all the dances – one, two, three, one, two, three, one.’ So. You know, whether that will illuminate the moment, that moment that you listen to something and hear something that illuminates you, whether that happens or not, I don’t know – it did for me, with those songs. quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


Leonard Looks Back On The Past (unedited interview for Norwegian Radio) by Kari Hesthamar, Los Angeles, 2005. Accessed at LeonardCohenFiles

The Making Of The Leonard Cohen Closing Time Video: Outrageous Vamping, Go-Go Dancing, Erotic Gazing


quoteup2  That was fun

Leonard Cohen

Rebecca De Mornay’s Offstage Mock Striptease

The roles played in the making of the official Closing Time video, winner of the 1993 Juno Best Video, by backup singers, Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen, and by Cohen’s paramour at that time, Rebecca De Mornay, are so delicious as to demand describing. This excerpt is from “Growing Old Disgracefully” by Ian Pearson (Saturday Night, March, 1993):

At the video shoot of “Closing Time,” the joy was starting to flow around 10 p.m., eight hours after the star’s arrival. Cohen and his band were on stage, lip-synching the song while the camera pored over their faces. The band was getting giddy. Cohen planted himself as solidly as a tree in centre stage, clenching his fists, mouthing the lyrics, and staring resolutely into the mid-distance. The back-up singers — Perla Batalla and Julie Christensen — were vamping outrageously beside Cohen, dancing provocatively and shooting delicious come-hither looks at him every time he glanced their way.

“Oh we’re drinking and we’re dancing / and there’s nothing really happening / the place is dead as Heaven on a Saturday night,” Cohen sang, and Rebecca De Mornay trapped his stare as she danced seductively behind the camera. He continued: “And my very close companion / gets me fumbling gets me laughing / she’s a hundred but she’s wearing something tight.” De Mornay, who was in her early thirties and wearing a tight green sweater and a snug linen skirt, suggestively started toying with her fingers at the edge of her lips. As his very close companion continued to swoon and gyrate, Cohen broke up on stage. “You guys were really beautiful,” Cohen said in a lounge-singer homily at the end of the take. Unlike a lounge singer, he really meant it.

The director, Curtis Wehrfritz, was pleased, but he wanted a close-up of Cohen putting a bit more emotion into the song. De Mornay had a plan. She asked for a pair of wooden crates to be placed in front of the stage beside the camera. The camera started rolling and the tape began playing. Cohen started a deadpan delivery of the song, more in his prophet than in his playboy mode. De Mornay and Perla Batalla kicked off their shoes, climbed onto the crates, and started gyrating like go-go dancers. A metre or so away from his face, De Mornay fixed her blue eyes on Cohen and pumped her hips. “The women tear their blouses off / the men they dance on the polka dots…/ it’s closing time,” sang Cohen, and De Mornay took the words as cue for a mock striptease. She pulled out the front of her sweater from under her skirt and then tantalizingly gestured with her hands in front of her chest.

The singer responded with an intensely erotic gaze. He sang every word to De Mornay, and came up with a true performance under the most artificial of circumstances. The song ended, and De Mornay turned to Wehrfritz and laughed, “We really put a sparkle in his eye.”

Cohen climbed off the stage. Ever the gentlemen with Old World manners, he bent down to put on De Mornay’s shoes for her. The gloomy-poet-turned-bard-of-the-bedsits looked up at his friends and the crew and pronounced, “That was fun.”

Leonard Cohen – Closing Time
Official Video: 1992

Note: Originally posted Feb 20, 2013 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric