Australian Biography - Diane Cilento

Shot Vision Audio In Point
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Animated Film Australia Logo

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Fade up from black:
Australian Biography Opening GFX Sequence
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Music

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Fade up from black

Diane

Super over freeze frame:
Diane Cilento
Born 1932, Brisbane
Actor

Dissolve to:

Diane sync: I mean when I do look back on my life, I do see that it is very bizarre. But all these things have happened and they have been part of my own journey, which I know is not ordinary, but to me it seems to have flowed along in a completely right way, a completely cohesive way.

Music

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Photo. Diane's mother in academic cap and gown

Diane v/o: Both my parents were doctors and my mother had her surgery

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Photo. Diane's mother sitting with man's hands on her shoulders.
Tilt up to Diane's father

in the house. And so there were six children, and they always had

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Photo. Diane's mother. Tilt up to baby

a few friends staying and my mother had a few little people she kept under her wing. My mother held her surgery every morning,

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Magazine article featuring Diane's mother.

so there were a whole huge mass of people came in then. And it was,

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Detail of previous article, showing photo of Lady Cilento

I suppose, compared with other people's houses, it was just a

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Photo of Cilento's house

hugely milling about sort of anthill, comparatively.

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Diane

Diane sync: I used to go into other people's houses, other kids' houses and I always used to go back and say to my mother, 'Why don't you ever ask me where I'm going and when I'm going to be back and when I'm going to be there?' And she looked at me and she said, 'Why, dear?'

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Photo. Diane as young child

Diane v/o: And I said 'Well, because everybody else's mothers do that.' But she never did.

Interviewer o/s: How did a child

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Photo. Two children, girl leaping from sand dune

so used to freedom get on at school?

Diane v/o: Ah, well

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Photo. Diane as young child in school uniform

we come to the first part of my misdemeanors. When I went to Yeronga State School

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Photo. Diane in costume

it was okay, but I was always a little bit flighty I suppose. And then

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Photo. Diane and brother. Pan right across a number of photos of Diane as child

my dad went away and I was sent to boarding school in Toowoomba, and I didn't like it at all, so I sort of rebelled. You're not the boss of me. That's the oldest

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Diane

Diane sync: Australian statement that my brother said that I had said to him as I threw an inkwell at him. You're not the boss of me.

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Photo. Cilento family. Slow zoom in to Diane

Diane v/o: It was something to do with authority that I didn't cotton to very well. I mean I was quite out of hand.

Interviewer o/s: And so they packed you off to your

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Form with 'Expelled' stamped across it

father, Sir Raphael Cilento, who'd been posted to New York to work for the U.N.

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Photo. Sir Raphael Cilento

there. Was he able to bring you into line?

Diane v/o: You see, then again I didn't behave very well there.

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Archival. From above. New York skyscrapers

I was sent to PS83, Washington Irving High School, on 17th and 3rd Avenue.

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Diane sync: I never went.

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Archival. New York street

Diane v/o: What I would do is I'd take the money to go

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Archival. People on New York street

to school and then I'd go, and I'd go

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Archival. People crossing road outside Macy's

to the Museum of Modern Art,

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Archival. People beside buses

I'd go to the Metropolitan,

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Archival. People entering New York subway

I'd go to movies on 14th

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Archival. New York taxis

Street, old movies.

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Archival. New York street

And I would walk

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Archival. New York street

around that town. They found out

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Diane

Diane sync: -- I mean after the first term that I'd only been for the three days.

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Photo. Diane and other girl in tutus

Diane v/o: The solution to it was that I'd been dancing, I was in

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Detail of previous photo. Diane

dancing and I had done a lot of ballet. And I used to go to

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Diane

Diane sync: Carnegie Hall to my class. And I used to go up in the lift with all these people who were going to the American Academy of Dramatic Art, who would all be talking about these amazing things and I used to listen. And then one day I just kept on going and went up in the lift. And when I got there, they thought I'd come for an audition. And so they gave me these audition pieces.

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Photo. Staircase with statues

And they took me on straight away.

Interviewer o/s: And then you won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. What did RADA teach you?

Diane v/o: Well I had what they call

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Photo. Rehearsal room with man at piano

a hybrid accent. When I came from America, I'd been in the Deep South [in southern accent] and I had a right,

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Diane

Diane sync: sort of, talked like that a bit. And I had a bit of Australian stuffed in there. So I had this weird hybrid accent, which they thought was quite funny, so I learnt to speak standard English.

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Photo. Two women fencing. Slow zoom in

Diane v/o: I learnt to breathe properly with my voice, and project. But that wasn't where I really learnt to act. I had a

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Photo. Diane and two men in performance. Zoom in to Diane

teacher after that called Yat Malmgren who asked to teach me when I was in a play with Michael Redgrave. And I went every day with him

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Diane

Diane sync: and learnt to take the stage and to become, to have control of what I was doing. And I learnt the theory of movement. Which I still teach sometimes. And I was very, very ambitious then to learn a skill.

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Photo. Publicity shot of Diane as young woman.
Slow zoom in to ECU

Diane v/o: I suddenly cottoned on to Shakespeare and got interested in plays and fascinated by people, fascinated by watching what they did exactly.

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Diane

Diane sync: And that's obviously the best part of learning any profession, is when you're really going through those huge stretching escalated times of learning and energy,

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Photo. Publicity still of Diane

Diane v/o: when you want to do it so much.

Interviewer o/s: How did you get your first film role?

Diane v/o: I was at RADA.

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Diane

Diane sync: And someone saw me and cast me - wait for this -- as an angel.

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Photo. Still from 'The Angel Who Pawned Her Harp'

Diane v/o: And I did a film called The Angel Who Pawned Her Harp. It was a very sweet film with some very good people.

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Diane

Diane sync: And Alexander Korda saw it and reedited it, and signed me up to a contract, a seven year contract immediately. So I didn't really have any of that time of rushing around and trying. It was all there on a big plate for me.

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Photo. Diane smoking cigar

Diane v/o: I then got the leading role in lots of plays on, in the West End, and I got the role of Helen of Troy in Tiger At The Gates, with Michael Redgrave.

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Diane

Diane sync: And then of course, off we went to America. And I thought it was going to be a huge flop. And it wasn't. It lasted for over a year and I won the Critics' Award. So suddenly I had a huge amount of success, just bang, very quickly, very young, and very, without really looking back or trying. I was just suddenly

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Photo. Diane

Diane v/o: lifted into another sphere. Actually, if the truth be known,

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Photo. Diane holding dove.

the most surprising thing for my mother and father was when I was

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Photo. Diane

actually earning more money than them by the time I was about 18. Because

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Diane

Diane sync: I think they thought that I was going to be the juvenile delinquent, the ne'er do well who they'd have to keep worrying about and clearing up this wake of shit that went behind me, the terrible things that I'd done, and suddenly there I was

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Photo. Diane in dressing room with her mother

Diane v/o: quite in another bracket of, you know, I just think it was very -- I mean

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Photo. Detail of previous. Diane's mother. Tilt down to Diane

they must have had a huge shock.

Interviewer o/s: Now about this time you got married to an Italian, how did that happen?

Diane v/o: It was frightfully

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Diane

Diane sync: sort of Romeo and Juliet. I mean he stood under my balcony as it were. And

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Painting of Diane's first husband

Diane v/o: I just fell madly in love for the first time in my life. And I'd never really had that sort of feeling. And

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Photo. Diane and her first husband

we sort of got married without telling anyone much, not my mother or anyone, and they were all rather surprised.

Interviewer o/s: And then, right away,

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Photo. Diane and her first husband

you left to go to New York for a year with a play you were in.

Diane v/o: It was a stupid way to begin a marriage, very,

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Diane

Diane sync: very silly. And it really didn't work at all. So when I came back, I mean everything had changed a bit. We'd all sort of... and

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Photo. Diane and a co-star
Zoom in to Diane

then I was sort of having a problem with my mother in law and husband

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Diane

Diane sync: and affairs, and everybody wanted to sort of jump on me somehow, and I didn't quite know how to handle any of it.

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Photo. Publicity still of Diane in magazine. Slow zoom in to ECU

Diane v/o: I kept, I suppose, feeling this huge discrepancy between what everyone expected me to be like and what I was really feeling underneath.

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Diane

Diane sync: I think this happens a tremendous amount. We have a huge amount of words written about what people want to read about celebrities.

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Diane on cover of Picture Post

Diane v/o: And you know, I lost, sort of lost my

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Diane

Diane sync: cool, I became panicked about who I was with and what I was doing

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Photo. Publicity shot of Diane in magazine

Diane v/o: and what was happening to me.

Interviewer o/s: What did you do?

Diane sync: Well I suppose

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Diane

Diane sync: -- and I really have never talked about this -- I just couldn't see any way out of any of it. I just thought I can't, just can't cope with any of it. And so I sort of made an attempt to get help by trying to kill myself. And it was all rather dramatic and mad and then I ran away, with my Italian maid, to Sicily. [laughs] And then somehow -- I don't know how -- my husband found when I came back, he was waiting at Naples for me. So it was very strange. And then we went back to Rome and then things sort of settled down for a bit. And then I really couldn't stand that sort of incarceration of the Italian wife.

Music

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Archival. Diane alighting from plane.

Diane v/o: And I just didn't want that, so off I went to Australia.

Newsreel Narrator: Brisbane born film star,

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Archival. Sir Raphael at airport

Diane Cilento, arrives back home,

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Archival. Sir Raphael greets Diane.

her lovely blonde hair flying in the breeze.

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Archival. Lady Cilento kisses Diane

She is met by her parents, Sir Raphael

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Archival. Sir Raphael and Lady Cilento. Tilt down to Diane in car

and Lady Cilento, who are obviously thrilled to see their famous daughter.

Diane v/o: I went to Australia to have Giovanna with my mum,

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Archival. Lady Cilento nursing Giovanna

because she wanted me to and -- that was her job.

Interviewer o/s: You took Giovanna back to live with your

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Archival. Lady Cilento hands Giovanna to Diane

husband's family in Italy. what brought that marriage to an end?

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Archival. Diane in bed

Diane v/o: I sort of see it as a Romeo and Juliet

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Diane

Diane sync: thing, but I, having played that part, I actually think that Romeo and Juliet would have had a dreadful marriage. Just like mine was in a way. It wasn't dreadful, it was just incompatible.

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Photo. Diane with nappy pin in her mouth. Tilt down to Giovanna on change table.

Diane v/o: Because I had a lot of things to do, and he was a sort of playboy in a way. And you know, Italian mamas

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Photo. Diane and Giovanna on beach

are very closely packed with their sons.

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Diane

Diane sync: So that's really what was the problem in the end, I think. You know, looking back on it now.

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Photo. Sean Connery, Diane and others at table. Zoom in to Sean and Diane

Diane v/o: And the next part of my life was when I sort of knew Sean and we were all working on all sorts of things and the Royal Court and the National Theatre

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Diane

Diane sync: and lots of films and...

Interviewer o/s: When you met him, Sean Connery was trying to

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Photo. Sean in orchard. Zoom in

break into acting, whereas you were well established. Were you able to help him ?

Diane v/o: Oh yes, of course I was. He did a lot of work, because he had a lot of work to do.

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Diane

Diane sync: Because I mean he was absolutely non-acceptable by all that crew of people as an actor on the stage.

Interviewer o/s: Why?

Diane sync: Because he had a terrible accent... [in Scottish accent] 'He talked like that.'

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Photo. Sean playing golf

Diane v/o: And he was also working class, which at that time I think still -- and I still think -- England needs

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Photo. Sean playing golf

its class distinctions. They wouldn't know what to do without them. They like it.

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Photo. Sean being licked by dog

And I mean I also thought it was a terrific joke. I loved it

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Diane

Diane sync: that he was so sort of rough diamond compared with all those creepy actors that I knew. [laughs]

Interviewer o/s: What was happening with your career

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Excerpt from Tom Jones [8 shots]

at that time?

Diane v/o: Tom Jones. It was the nicest film I've ever been on. But I was already very pregnant, actually, even though I played a pregnant lady and I had to wear a huge thing, I was pregnant. And I really didn't want to get married. But -- so I upped again and went to Spain with my sister.

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Diane

Diane sync: What I realise is that I probably am a person who skips off when things get a bit difficult and I can't hope to get them into order. I think I'm better at it now though. But I was a bit of a bolter. But then it all worked out, and we did get married and I did -- then I went and had this baby. And after that then Sean got to be very successful.

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Archival. Diane. Fast pan right to Sean at press conference

Interviewer o/s: Yes, what was it like - that time of Sean's celebrity

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Archival. Sean at press conference

as James Bond?

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Archival. Diane at press conference

Diane v/o: A sort of dream I suppose.

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Archival. Sean. Pan left to Diane

It was like a mad dream. People would be waiting outside the door and hiding in bushes and sitting up trees.

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Photo. Sean as James Bond

I mean when my dad was staying with us then, we found a ladder up the back and a girl climbed up it into his bedroom.

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Diane

Diane sync: He was very shocked and at the same time quite sort of, thought it was pretty extraordinarily nice.

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Photo. Billboard on front of Leicester Square Theatre for movie with Sean and Brigitte Bardot. Zoom out to people gathered outside cinema

Diane v/o: Lots of people used to do stuff like that. And there were lots of stunt men around and people trying to sell things and buy things through Bond,

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Photo. Sean with Princess Margaret

and we were sent caviar and Dom Perignon champagne, cases of it,

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Diane

Diane sync: until you loathed it. Yes, you did!

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Newspaper article headed: 'Diane flies back home' showing photo of Diane and baby

Diane v/o: At first it was sort of funny. And then it wasn't funny. And

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Newspaper article text

then we had lots of robberies. It was like living in a fishbowl really, but worse, because fishes at least are

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Diane

Diane sync: -- have got the glass and we didn't.

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Photo. Sean and Jason

Diane v/o: When we were by ourselves it was so totally different than in public, because

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Diane

Diane sync: he was sort of going bald and had to wear a rug on his head, and

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Photo. Sean sitting shirtless in garden chair

I had to sort of shave his back and do all those sort of things

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Photo. Sean, Diane and Jason on boat near Sydney Opera House

so that he could appear as this totally unreal -- and people started

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Photo. Detail of previous. Sean. Pan right to Diane and Jason

-- and that was the worst thing -- started calling him, you know, Bond and things, instead of Sean.

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Diane

Diane sync: I suppose there are people who can really get used to that and love it. But it wasn't me, that person, that could do that.

Interviewer o/s: So

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Photo. Sean and Diane

what finally went wrong between you and Sean?

Diane v/o: Sean was over in New York,

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Photo. Diane

I was at this house that we had by that time, because we'd moved from that house where we'd had all those robberies, it was too vulnerable.

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Diane

Diane sync: And my little son by this time was about six or something, had gone out and gone to Wimbledon Common and I don't know exactly what happened, but he came back and he had been sort of attacked.

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Photo. Jason with microphone

Diane v/o: And I just felt desperately vulnerable again. So I moved again, and I moved to another house.

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Diane

Diane sync: And when Sean came back I wasn't there. I just left.

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Photo. Jason and other boy

Diane v/o: So I just -- because he didn't really take any notice of what was going on with us.

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Photo. Jason on ladder

And what was going on was that Jason was in a problem, in that he had been severely shocked

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Diane

Diane sync: and he needed to be reassured by the male figure. And I don't think, I don't think Sean was occupied with thinking about that. And that's why I realised that it wasn't working, and I just left.

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Photo. Diane in glamorous dress

Interviewer o/s: You left Sean in 1970, was that the beginning of a whole new direction for your

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Photo. Diane in aviator goggles

life?

Diane v/o: I think there's a time in your life when you ask two questions. Who am I?

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Diane

Diane sync: And the other one is what am I doing here? Because once you've had all that stuff and it's what the world says you're supposed to want -- fame, anything you want, stuff being given to you, people taking you here and there and all that -- once that's happened, and it isn't -- and you think oh, is that what it was, is that it? Is that the best thing they've got to offer. Well I don't really, I don't really think that's enough. I want more than this. I can't make sense of this because it doesn't satisfy me. And it isn't because you want more, at least in my case it wasn't, it's just because you want a different quality of things.

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Photo. Meditation class

Diane v/o: And then I started going to classes and

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Photo. People in white gowns doing meditational practice

meditational practices and I would never have pursued it. In fact, the first three times I thought

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Diane

Diane sync: this'll make a great story for all my friends, meeting all these bizarre people. But then the proof of the pudding happened in that I began to do it and it began to work. I mean I had a different sort of energy.

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Archival. John Godolphin Bennet taking class

Interviewer o/s: You went to a school for a year with a man called John

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Archival. Bennet standing in front of class
Super:
International Academy of Continuous Education
Gloucestershire

Godolphin Bennet. What was the philosophy he taught?

Diane v/o: Well, it was, I suppose the

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Archival

discipline of Sufism.

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Archival. People in Sufi practice.

And it sort of taught an enormous amount of being able to in fact take on any

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Archival. Sufi class

job or any task without panicking and

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Diane

Diane sync: with a sort of clearer eye to what it was about, it is about. And it was a lot of meditational practices too, which were practical.

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Archival. People tending vegetable garden

Diane v/o: It was a

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Archival. Chickens. Man tending vegetable garden in b/g

basis in living really.

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Archival. Diane in kitchen cutting marrow

And then I took 14 people and I'd bought a sort of farmhouse,

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Archival. Farm

a very run down one, and we all went there, and

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Archival. Farmhouse
Super:
Scots Farm
Wiltshire
Car drives through gateway

began to build it up, and reconditioned all the houses. But we were still very institutionalised

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Diane

Diane sync: in a way. We sort of had little bells going all the time [laughs].

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Archival. Diane leading horse on farm

Diane v/o: And when I think of it now, I resented it being institutionalised and it took me about a year to get out of being institutionalised. And then I had this weird thing, I had a sort of a desire that came into me. I don't know how.

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Diane

Diane sync: I'd never seen whirling dervishes in my life. But I had this sort of dream, and I wrote to a sheikh that I knew

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Archival. Dervish's feet. Tilt up to whirling dervish

Diane v/o: and I said, I would like to make this film. So off I went to Qonya, and filmed solidly for a week. They all looked after me, because of course I had that connection. Because they are Sufis.

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Archival. Orchestra in f/g. Whirling Dervishes in b/g

And it was put on and won a couple of prizes.

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Archival. Dervishes whirl in f/g close to camera. Sufi man in b/g

And was at the -- it was put on on BBC 2.

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Archival. From above. Whirling Dervish on striped carpet

And it was really I thought now, I know what I want to do, I want to direct films

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Diane

Diane sync: and be in that side of things. But I really, I suppose, as I always do, had too many fingers in too many pies. I had

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Photo. Sir Raphael and Lady Cilento

Diane v/o: -- my dad got sick so I came back to Australia and I bought this piece of land here and I didn't know what

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Diane's land
Super:
Karnak
North Queensland

Diane v/o: to do with it, and I decided to go on a lecture tour of Australia. And I'd use this place as a sort of, a school,

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Diane

Diane sync: and try to bring out these ideas from all that I had worked on.

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Photo. Man standing in front of half built farmhouse

Diane v/o: And we, three of us, came here and worked and worked and worked to get those things done by the first course.

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Photo. Aerial shot of theatre building

People joined us, of course, and helped. They were having to work very hard,

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Diane

Diane sync: building house and slashing and building gardens and all that. And it wasn't -- I mean the whole thing wasn't like a community where people just went and dropped, sort of flaked out.

Interviewer o/s: During that time when people were coming here to study , Antony

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Photo. Antony Shaffer in car

Shaffer, the English playwright, came to join you but then he was

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Photo. Shaffer and man standing in front of house

diagnosed with a brain tumour. what happened with that?

Diane v/o: It was

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Diane

Diane sync: operated on and was completely cleared. But I suppose I thought after that, that as he had -- [laughs] -- I was casting, or trying to cast, Rudolph Valentino for a film then. Another one that fell through. But he sent me from the hospital, a picture of himself with a completely shaven head, with this awful scar, and about -- he weighed about sort of nothing. And he said, this is -- my name is so and so, Joe Bloggs, I'm going for the part of Valentino, would you consider me. And I mean anybody that does that in the height of their awful illness has got to be a terrific person, got to be funny. I mean he really is, and he's got -- he's got just the sort of right temperament for me. Actually, if the truth be known, he doesn't take any nonsense from me either. So

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Photo. Diane and Antony's wedding photo

Diane v/o: we got married here. And that's when really,

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Photo. Diane and Antony with dog beside dam. Slow zoom in

as we were spending a lot of time here, we had built a stage for people to do their movements and things on. And people started loving it so much. So I thought this'll be for

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Karnak theatre set amongst rain forest. Zoom out to EWS
Super:
The Karnak Playhouse

everyone, and I'd build a thing that would have a bar and a restaurant and everything else. And I think it will catch up. I mean the public will catch up with this different view of entertainment and ecology and being in a place that is very special.

Interviewer o/s: In the course of your life,

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Dam in rain forest. Pan left to WS Diane on grass cutting tractor

you've written a couple of novels, you've directed plays and films, but you were really very successful as an actor. Yet you left that career really when you were still in full flight with it, weren't you? There were still lots of possibilities for you?

Diane v/o: Oh yes.

Interviewer o/s: Why?

Diane v/o: Well,

10:22:05
153

Diane on grass cutting tractor

I think I sort of OD'd on going to the theatre for six days a week and performing eight times, and I think I also didn't need it any more. I think I had

10:22:21
154

Diane

Diane sync: arrived -- you see, I mean in looking at this in retrospect, I think when you are down the family line and all the others are doing this, you sort of have to prove yourself in a way that makes your life sort of have meaning from a skill point of view. If your family is full of people who are skilful at various different things, and you want to have approval. I think that's part of it too. I think actors need approval.

10:22:34
155

Photo. Diane on stage

At least all the actors I've ever met.

Interviewer o/s: And what got you to the point you didn't need that any more?

Diane v/o: I think because I had arrived at a place where I was more sure of who I was, and I didn't need to be told that it was okay to be like me.

10:23:09
156

Diane

Diane sync: Because I -- you know, one always feels as though one's a bit of a freak. I mean I think I probably am, but anyway.

10:23:25
157

Photo. Tilt up from Diane's hands to face

Diane v/o: We spend a lot of time worrying about ourselves. And I think what happened was, I changed my point of reference. I stopped

10:23:33
158

Diane

Diane sync: looking out of the old bigger persona maniac's eyes and starting looking -- I changed my balance.

10:23:41
159

Diane walking through restaurant to light at back of theatre. Pan right to theatre stage

Interviewer o/s: But you're still very much a risk taker, I mean right now you're staging a laser show in your theatre?

Diane v/o: I think risk is part of being alive and I think if you don't take risks, I think you sink into a sort of crystallised, cemented state, and you may look wonderful or be wonderful, but at the same time you can't move out of that, and I think that's the beginning of death.

10:23:50
160

Diane

Freeze frame on last words. Fade to black

Diane sync: I mean I think our lives are divided into three things anyway. We do honestly have a time when we really don't know what's happening, and we're all -- then we do have a voyage of discovery. And then I think the interesting part, which I think I'm in now, is a sort of consolidation of being able to somehow be much more creative as far as innovating things and bringing things out. And sort of living your own vision.

10:24:17
161

Credits roll up from black over stamp size shot of laser show at Karnak

Interviewer
ROBIN HUGHES

Editor
KIM MOODIE

Director of Photography
STEVE ISAAC

Sound Recordist
WARWICK FINLAY

Production Manager
JO ROSE

Sound Post Production
MICHAEL GISSING
DIGITAL CITY STUDIOS

Online Editor
ROEN DAVIS
LENA BALOUT
VISUALEYES

10:24:49
162

Credits continue

Research
JO ROSE

Transcripts
CLEVERTYPES

Production Liaison
SALLY CREAGH
KAREN SKEA

Business Affairs Manager
SALLY REGAN

With Thanks To
ABC FOOTAGE SALES
FILMWORLD
CHANNEL SEVEN
NEWS LTD
EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS
COURIER MAIL NEWSPAPERS
SESH RAMAN

TOM JONES
„ 1963 WOODFALL FILM PRODUCTIONS
All Rights Reserved
Courtesy of MGM

10:25:04
163

Credits continue

Produced and Directed by
ROBIN HUGHES

Executive Producer
MARK HAMLYN

Made in association with SBS TV

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Fade up from black:

A Film Australia National Interest Program
© MMI

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10:25:19
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