“When I met Rebecca [De Mornay],” Leonard Cohen told Pico Mayer in 1998, “all kinds of thoughts came into my mind, as how could they not when faced with a woman of such beauty?”
Cohen and De Mornay met around 1987, and by 1992 were seen together at various Hollywood functions while De Mornay’s star rose and Cohen underwent one of his periodical “rediscoveries” by critics and the wider public, with his songs being placed in Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, and Kurt Cobain name-dropping him in Nirvana’s “Pennyroyal Tea.” At one point, they were engaged.
Putting dates on the pair’s relationship is difficult, though a good hard stop might be Cohen’s growing interest in Buddhism and subsequent disappearance to a Buddhist monastery, where he was ordained a monk in 1996. But De Mornay still thinks of her ex-fiancé only with fondness.
“Leonard Cohen was one of the greatest poets, but for me, he was also one of the most important people in my life, and losing him is like losing a limb,” the actress, 57, tells PEOPLE in a statement.
“He was my ground, he was my aerial, as he wrote in his song ‘Treaty.’ I really cannot fathom what life will be like without him in it. At least I was able to spend time with him in his last year. He faced death as he faced life: straight on, with honesty, grace, and breathtaking depth of perception. He enjoyed the quiet, simple moments with friends, and being immersed in working on songs. He said in his last interview that he was ready to die, and he said in his last public outing that he would live forever. Both are true. There was no one like him, and there never will be.”
Cohen died Monday at the age of 82 and was buried in a traditional Jewish rite next to his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, according to his wishes.
Reporting by SARAH MICHAUD