Julliard trained, Venora moves effortlessly between theater, movies, and TV. She holds her own on the big screen with powerful men such as Russell Crowe and Al Pacino in The Insider, Clint Eastwood in True Crime, Richard Gere and Bruce Willis in The Jackel, Forest Whitaker in Bird, Anthony Hopkins in Surviving Picasso, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro in Heat, and Ethan Hawke in the newly released Hamlet.
We met before rehearsal one morning. A petite woman dressed in black with a freshly scrubbed face, Diane Venora has that thing--that absolute simplicity and purity good actors radiate.
THEATERMANIA: Did you ever play Lady Macbeth before?
DIANA VENORA: No. The play always bothered me. It's so dark--the images--it's unnatural. Against nature. The covertness is so deep. It's wanting something so badly that you would kill for it.
TM: Why did you do it?
VENORA: I wanted to complete playing all three roles--Juliet, Gertrude, and Lady Macbeth--and see [Shakespeare's women] from a different lens. You can never "do" a Shakespearean play and think you are finished with it. As you grow older, new things come into your life. It's always going to be about something more in your life.
TM: How do you move so effortlessly between theater, TV, and movies?
VENORA: I think of the British who do it, who work constantly. Look at who is on Broadway right now: Gabriel Byrne, Sinead Cusak, Stephen Dillane, Derek Jacobi, Roger Rees, Patrick Stewart, and David Suchet. They were trained to move effortlessly between the various media. That's the craft. I say, "I've got to be in that play. I've got to work with Cherry Jones. I need to work with Marian Seldes."
TM: You stopped acting for a while?
VENORA: I left acting to raise a family for seven years after working on Bird with Mr. Eastwood. I see what staying home and caring does. My daughter is in college now. She has written a book and dedicated it to me. I'm very proud of her. In 1994, I started again. That was difficult. My first job I got in five months: a TV sitcom with Ed Asner. And then from there, di dit di dit de doo! I attribute it to the craft. It can't be about great looks. I don't have them. It cannot be about youth, cause I'm not Peg o' My Heart. One can create the illusion; depend on imagination and craft.