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).
After graduation, Venora performed extensively on the stage, particularly in Shakespearean plays. 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 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. 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).