Australian Biography: Diane Cilento


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2002, 26 Minutes

Diane Cilento achieved international acclaim as a stage and screen actor in the 1950s and 60s. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, she won a Critics Choice Award for her theatre role in Tiger at the Gates in 1956 and an Academy Award nomination for Tom Jones in 1963. That was also the year her celebrity reached its height, with her husband Sean Connery as James Bond attracting feverish attention the world over.

It was far removed from her days growing up in Queensland as one of six children to Lady Phyllis and Sir Raphael Cilento, both eminent doctors. But not necessarily surprising. Diane had been a rebellious child. Expelled from her school in Australia, she went to New York with her father, where she secretly spent her days at the museum and the movies instead of in the classroom, and where she discovered acting. Young Diane was impetuous, passionate, dramatic. Her early life was marked by intense peaks of emotion: her elopement with a romantic Italian at the age of 23, a nervous breakdown and suicide attempt, and twice fleeing marriages without warning.

These days, Diane talks about balance. She has a happy marriage, spiritual contentment and a magnificent Queensland property where she runs a theatre amidst the rainforest. It’s a place she has reached after turning her back on stardom in the 1970s and beginning a journey of self-discovery.

In a very candid interview, Diane talks about what she has learnt from her roles: as an actress, as wife and mother, and as someone seeking spiritual fulfilment.

A Film Australia National Interest Program. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

Free Teachers’ Notes - Download here

NB The Australian Biography series (1-11) are only available for sale within the territories of Australia and New Zealand.


Producer/Director: Robin Hughes

Interviewer: Robin Hughes

Year: 2002

Running Time: 26 Minutes

Classification: Exempt from classification

Curriculum Links: SOSE/HSIE, Studies of Religion, English, Drama, Film, Cinema and Screen Studies.


SKU 199901901
Brand Film Australia

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