Diane Venora

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Diane Venora
EducationBoston Conservatory
Juilliard School (BFA)
Years active1979–present
(m. 1980; div. 1989)

Diane Venora is an American stage, television and film actress. She graduated from the Juilliard School in 1977 and made her film debut in 1981 opposite Albert Finney in Wolfen. She won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress for Bird (1988). Her other films include The Cotton Club (1984), Heat (1995), Romeo + Juliet (1996), The Jackal (1997), The Insider (1999) and Hamlet (2000).

Early life[edit]

Venora was born in East Hartford, Connecticut, one of six children of Marie (née Brooks) and Robert P. Venora, who owned a dry-cleaning business.[1] She graduated from East Hartford High School (class of 1970), where she was active in musicals and plays. She studied at Boston Conservatory of Music and two years later won a scholarship to Juilliard School in New York City, where she graduated in 1977.[2] At Juilliard she was a member of the drama department's Group 6 (1973–1977),[3] which included Kelsey Grammer, Harriet Sansom Harris and Robin Williams.[4]


After graduation, Venora performed extensively on the stage, particularly in Shakespearean plays.[5] She made her film debut alongside Albert Finney and Gregory Hines in Wolfen (1981). In 1983, she starred in Joseph Papp's production of Hamlet at the New York Shakespeare Festival in the lead role, the first woman to play the role at the prestigious showcase. She has a long history with Hamlet, having played the title role, as well as Ophelia opposite Kevin Kline, and Gertrude onscreen opposite Ethan Hawke.

In 1988, her critically acclaimed performance as Chan Parker in Clint Eastwood's Bird earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination and the New York Film Critics Circle Award.

In 1994, after taking five years off to care for her daughter, Venora landed a starring role in the TV series Thunder Alley, followed by a recurring role as plastic surgeon Geri Infante in the TV series Chicago Hope.

In 1995 she starred opposite Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Heat, earning high regard from critics and audiences for her portrayal of Justine Hanna, the Pacino character's troubled wife.[5] Her other performances include Gloria Capulet [Juliet Capulet’s mother] in Romeo + Juliet (1996), The Jackal (1997), The 13th Warrior (1999), The Insider (1999), and All Good Things (2010).

Personal life[edit]

Venora was married to cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak in 1980; they divorced in 1989. That year, she took time off from show business to spend more time with her daughter Madzia, then eight. During her hiatus, Venora lived in New York City, teaching disadvantaged children and acting in an occasional play. In 1994, she and her daughter moved to Los Angeles.[2]

Stage credits[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1981 Penguin Touquet Other (Same) Woman
Miss Julie
1982 A Midsummer Night's Dream Hippolyta
Hamlet[6] Prince Hamlet
1983 Uncle Vanya Yelyna
1984 Peer Gynt Green Woman
Messiah Rachel
1985 Tomorrow's Monday Dora Allen
1986 Largo Desolato Lucy
A Man for All Seasons Lady Margaret More
The School for Scandal Lady Teazle
1989 The Winter's Tale Hermione
1990 Hamlet Ophelia
1998 Tongue of a Bird Mother
1999-2000 Hamlet Gertrude
2000 The Seagull As director
Macbeth Lady Macbeth
2001 Celebration
The Room
2001-02 Necessary Targets Zlata
2002 God of Vengeance Sara
2003 The Burning Deck
2012 As You Like It Jaques
2016 110 Stories



Year Title Role Notes
1979 All That Jazz Extra Uncredited
1980 Getting There Melanie Short film
1981 Wolfen Rebecca Neff
1984 The Cotton Club Gloria Swanson
1985 Terminal Choice Anna Lang
1986 F/X Ellen Keith
1987 Ironweed Margaret 'Peg' Phelan
1988 Bird Chan Parker New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Sant Jordi Award for Best Foreign Actress
Nominated- Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress– Motion Picture
Nominated- Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
1995 Three Wishes Joyce
Heat Justine Hanna Nominated- Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
1996 The Substitute Jane Hetzko
Surviving Picasso Jacqueline Roque
Romeo + Juliet Gloria Capulet
1997 Seed: A Love Story Julia Short film
The Jackal Maj. Valentina Koslova
1999 True Crime Barbara Everett
The 13th Warrior Queen Weilew
The Joyriders Celeste
The Young Girl and the Monsoon Giovanna
The Insider Liane Wigand
2000 Hamlet Gertrude
Looking for an Echo Joanne Delgado
2001 Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 Gabriella Francini
2002 Heartbreak Hospital Sunday Tyler / Andrea Harmon
2004 Stateside Mrs. Hengen
2005 Self Medicated Louise Eriksen Phoenix Film Festival Copper Wing Award for Best Acting Ensemble
Touched Carole Davis
2008 Stiletto Sylvia Vadalos
Childless Mary
2009 Follow the Prophet Red
Little Hercules in 3-D Hera
The Ministers Gina Santana
2010 All Good Things Janice Rizzo
2021 Star-Crossed: The Film House Mother / School Administrator / Demonstrator


2022 First Love Aunt Irene


Year Title Role Notes
1981 Nurse Ellen Brill Episode: "Rivals"
1982 A Midsummer Night's Dream Hippolyta TV movie
1983 Cook & Peary: The Race to the Pole Marie Fidele Hunt
1985 A.D. Corinna TV movie
1990 Great Performances Ophelia Episode: "Hamlet"
1993 Law & Order Mara Feder Episode: "Night & Fog"
1994 Thunder Alley Bobbi Turner Recurring role
1994–95 Chicago Hope Dr. Geri Infante Recurring role
1996 Special Report: Journey to Mars Lt. Tanya Sadavoy TV movie
2000 Race Against Time Dr. Helen Steele
The Practice Margaret Wakefield Episode: "Appeal and Denial"
2004 Class Actions Justine Harrison TV movie
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Marilyn Nesbit Episode: "Home"
2005 Threshold Andrea Hatten / Angela Hatten 4 episodes
C.S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia Joy Gresham TV movie
2006 Criminal Minds Doris Episode: "The Fisher King: Part 1"
2007 Medium Sarah Jane Levitt Episode: "Very Merry Maggie"
2008 Eleventh Hour Lea Muller Episode: "Resurrection"
2009 Private Practice Sharon Episode: "Second Chances"
NCIS Shada Shakarji Episode: "Outlaws and In-Laws"
2010 Grey's Anatomy Audrey Taylor Episode: "Push"
The Wish List Brenda TV movie
2016 The Victorians Mary Rutherford


  1. ^ "Venora. Robert P. Venora, Sr". Hartford Courant. February 23, 1997.
  2. ^ a b Lang, Steven (December 8, 1997). "Second Act: Having Once Left Acting to Care for Her Daughter, Diane Venora Takes a Run at Stardom in The Jackal". People.
  3. ^ "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. November 2007. Archived from the original on November 11, 2011.
  4. ^ "Alumni News". The Juilliard School. September 2007. Archived from the original on November 11, 2011.
  5. ^ a b Diane Venora- Biography
  6. ^ Rich, Frank (December 3, 1982). "Theater: Diane Venora Stars in Papp's 'Hamlet'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 25, 2019.

External links[edit]