Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
Talking Heads -

View in ParlView

(generated from captions) She's been a brilliant actress, including to '007' Sean Connery, had three marriages taken her from the silver screen and made a spiritual journey that's of north Queensland. to the tropical rainforests is Diane Cilento. This week's talking head THEME MUSIC to have you on Talking Heads. Diane, it's lovely Thank you very much for coming. Thank you. Thanks. is called 'My Nine Lives'. Now your autobiography Why NINE lives? Mmm. I've always identified with cats. I think partly because (Chuckles) the title actually myself. I didn't make up and they said about the book, Someone in the publishing company you've done and lives you've led, "My God, all these things "it's sort of like my nine lives". And so that was what it became. at your life too, is to say, One way of looking meaning of the word 'Bohemian'." "Well, you are a bit in the real that's lived by their own rules. That is someone Yeah, I think that's true. wanting to be like that. I don't mean that I started out I'm put together. I think it's just the way That I've never been able, with rules and authority. quite to cope I don't know, I just sort of...

It does something funny to me. a pretty interesting half hour. Well, this is gonna be So you came from renowned parents. Mmm. Let's take a look. great professionalism in our house, There was a sort of air of that any of the children in that it wasn't expected than professional. would be anything less and my father was a doctor. My mother was a doctor

My father was also a lawyer. for being difficult. I was sent to boarding school And then I got expelled from there. from Brisbane to the seaside Well, I couldn't wait to get away or even sometimes much longer. every weekend that sort of suburban life But I think that's because has never appealed to me ever. to the Glennie Memorial School Then I went to Toowoomba and got expelled. And then they said,

parental control in America". "Look, she's got to go over and have So I went to America and I never went there either. and then I was sent to school to be with my father I was sent to America of a steadying hand. and have some sort in the United Nations My dad was then the American Academy of Dramatic Art and I've discovered up on the top floor I first got interested in acting. and that's where was going back to Australia And then my mother through England I went and did an audition for RADA and while I was in London and got a scholarship to RADA. Sir Alexander Korda saw me and he signed me up. but I never did. He wanted to change my name 'Helen of Troy' part, I got this amazing I met this young Italian guy run away from his family who'd actually and sort of fell madly in love and we got married very quickly my mother and father. without telling It all went pear-shaped. Everything sort of crumbled. to do far too much. I was just being asked to see me before this, Tom? Why haven't you been Molly, I, er... that our lives had drawn apart Andrea and I had realised jumped back into his family. and he had suddenly I did 'Anna Christie' for television When I got pregnant of great note, playing my dad with Leo McKern, an Australian actor and that was Sean Connery. and a young Scottish actor, a love affair or anything But it wasn't it was just he looked after me to have this child. and then I had to go to Australia But all the time I was in Australia in this incredible handwriting he wrote me letters with about five words on one page. I got married to him after 'Bond' People always think but actually I didn't. he did the first 'Bond', But then quite quickly but nobody knew then that that film a whole huge still-running series. was going to create as a perfect one in show business, Many people regard your marriage if such a thing can exist, what is the secret of your success? SEAN: I'm such a lovely fella. And Sean by that time, had completely reversed. obviously the positions and I was this person who was He was the big star suddenly Mrs James Bond. of becoming the wife of James Bond, And I think I was not capable if you see what I mean.

to explain that a bit further. Mmm, I'm going to get you be the wife of James Bond? Now, why couldn't you the sexiest man on the planet? Isn't he supposed to be (Laughs) where James Bond gets married? Have you read the one She's dead within about 10 seconds. not allowed to be married. Because James Bond's

about James Bond's approach to women. There needs to be something serial Well, I mean, yes, that's right. an entanglement He can't sort of have and bed anyone who's moving. where he can't be free to whip off No. Not at all. Well, was that the problem? really you were married to, Because it wasn't James Bond it was Sean Connery. in each other's way, were they? But I suppose the two were getting Well, it wasn't his fault, of everybody who met him it was the fault to be anything but that figure. because they didn't want him also threw a shadow over your, But his fame at that time. really outstanding achievements the prop, didn't you? You became in a sense

The sidekick? you could say it like that Well, I suppose but it wasn't really like that. want me to work at all It was just that he didn't really done anything else but work and I had never and do things in the theatre. Mmm. Let's go right back to the beginning. Your parents, they were really like Queensland royalty, weren't they? both of them. They were extraordinary people, were very individualistic And they, both of them,

their children to be anything else. and they didn't expect has a global image of things When a person it's a very different thing than worrying about what's in your little patch and only thinking about that. I think both my parents came from a type of idealism that you don't see around much any more. That sort of thing about really working for the good of other people and sticking by the Hippocratic oath. My parents never led us to believe that we were anything else but potentially the best at everything. Did you feel as successful at success, film after film, stage production after stage production, did you feel giddy with this success? It must be very hard for a younger... A person in their 20s, they're babies really. Well, yes. I did sort of get out of my depth a couple of times

and I did get ill. Because I never really, as a headstrong person, which I think I was certainly very much, I never took any notice of anything like going to bed early or looking after myself really.

I just didn't know what that was all about. I just thought life, you know, boom into it. I didn't really... Well, you got into the bath once quite determined you weren't gonna get out. Yeah, that's true. But... Well, that speaks about more than being run-down too.

No, that's speaks about oddly enough, as a counterpoint to what you just asked me. About my idea of success, let's say. I actually got to a point where, and that was a nadir, that I thought I was a total utter complete failure. And that, I couldn't take. It wasn't there. I couldn't do it. I didn't want to be there anymore. So there is this other undercurrent. I think so. And these things aren't overnight phenomena. No, I think that there is a spectrum where you go from that to that. But I think mostly if you are up there and reaching for things all the time, when you get dumped or it dumps you or whatever happens I don't think there's very many mattresses. You just go bonk onto cement and there's nothing there to stop you hitting the rocks. And that's what happened to me then.

Was that a bad performance on stage? No. It was to do with... I think tiredness, run-downedness, trying to do too much, trying to be married to someone, trying to have a household and run everything and trying to be Superwoman, but not being able to be at all. Because too much spread too thin. All of this speaks in a sense of, what as an outsider seems entrapment. I mean, I thought I could have a career and do everything and be married and be free. Well, you can't. You have a different... If you're married to someone it's different. Now, of those things you say, including being free, what is the most important one to you? (Chuckles) Which one do you think? Mmm, the last one. Being free. Yes, I have a feeling that's more my nature and I don't think I ever thought I would be entrapped. Let's see what happened when you left Sean Connery. When I left my marriage, more or less immediately I went back to school. I went to a school in Gloucestershire called the College of Continuous Education, run by a philosopher called J.G. Bennett. And this, I think,

it was an offshoot of many different philosophies.

And what it said was, "Forget everything you ever have been told "because it ain't like that and it never was. "Turn it upside down". But I lived there and I took 14 people with me when I left there and we bought a farm in Wiltshire to try to see if these ideas actually worked in a modern world. Because what's the use of going to a school and learning all that stuff if you come away and you never know whether it works because you don't actually live it. The experiment at Scott's Farm was working

except for one important thing in this day and age, and that was money. So I had to make some films. I'm afraid you'll have to have a search warrant or permission from Lord Summerisle himself. So I went up to Scotland and shot 'The Wicker Man' with Anthony Shaffer. He became totally entranced by the lifestyle and he used to come back to Scott's Farm and then he met J.G. Bennett and he became fascinated by the philosophy. My dad had had a heart attack. I decided to go off, leave and come back to Australia.

And I had said yes to the Queensland Theatre Company

to do Kate in 'The Taming of the Shrew'.

From then on Tony sort of never left my side for several quite long years. And then finally we got married. After that play where I was pretty exhausted I came up here to Port Douglas to shoot a documentary

about how this funny little place had attracted so many eccentrics and individuals who had come to the end of the line. Little did I know that I was going to become one of them. Anyway, Tony exercised his desire and bought a restaurant called the Nautilus, which became a great success. Opened by the famous Joh Bjelke-Petersen and became the best restaurant in Queensland, second best in Australia. So even though we had to bend over backwards to get people to come at first, and give all these strange Sunday brunches and think up all sorts of plans, it was a wonderful thing. It set a benchmark in this area. I put a downpayment on 200 acres of rainforest backing onto a national park, Daintree National Park. With two waterfalls and two rivers and just everything that Mr Bennett had talked about, about having its own water, perfect clean air, clean water, everything. That this was what we were looking for to begin our future community. We'll go back to Karnak in just moment and talk about that, but what was it that made you leave theatre and film so completely? It's very consuming, acting. I wanted to have more of my life that I could do. I wanted to try things.

I wanted to actually do things with land and grow things and look at other places. The inside of a dressing room is lovely for about some of your life, but then you really need to move, I think, move out of that and become more sort of... ..more open to everything. Well, what was it about you, as distinct from him, which attracted you to the ideas of Bennett? Well, J.G. Bennett was a philosopher who'd come through the war and he was physicist and... ..a person who had actually lived through the First World War, been a spy in Turkey, had done a whole lot of things that were... ..mellowing and getting him into a position where he didn't care anymore about whether he had a school or students. He just really was determined to try and pass on the knowledge that he'd accumulated. So do you see him as a sort of guru? No.

And that's a much-abused term. I know it is. There are so many words that carry so much baggage now and that's one of them. I think he was a person who was very much ahead of his time in a way. He'd taken from everything. A lot of people that call themselves spiritual may be, but it's still pretty much at the periphery of their life, whereas with you it seems like the spiritual's at the centre of your life. It is. But I don't like to talk about being spiritual, because, again, that's another one of those words. (Chuckles) But I think really, I mean, everything is extraordinarily potent. Let's call it that rather than spiritual. Everything is filled with its own sort of extraordinary energy and life force. And you've tapped into being able to not have anything between you and it, or, say, you and other people most of the time, of course you have to be discriminating, but at the same time once you've allowed it to become part of your life like that it makes life so much more exciting all the time because you have enough energy to cope with it. A lot of the time we just give up because we're stuffed. But this is a philosophy which reanimates you and reanimates your energy. That's one of the things that I am more interested in than anything else, is the idea of the way we manage energy. Now Karnak is at the centre of your life. Let's see what you've done there. The Karnak Playhouse came about because Tony missed the theatre. So we decided to build one. We had built a stage so that people could demonstrate what they did. Dancing and movements and different things and playing a guitar, but people liked it so much and we had lots of people came and stayed with us and they said, "But we want somewhere to sit "and we want a bar and we want to be able to eat something. "What are you doing?" So that's what we did. We built it. This is the stage at Karnak Playhouse. And tonight there's a performance of 'The Impossible Dream'. 14 years since it was built and I'm still here. Nobody would believe it, me least of all. But here I am. And here it is. And it's pretty exciting, the whole thing. Yes! It starts at eight but you have to be here a bit earlier and you can have gourmet sandwiches and there's a full bar. They just fit right. They look good enough to eat even. Of course, what one doesn't realise when one starts a thing like this, in a shire like this, especially then, was that you just come against such a huge barrage of people not wanting you to do anything. It's very restrictive, so we came against the Douglas Shire Council, we fought it for years. I think we had all sorts of very unpleasant things happen to us. And finally in 1992...

..the then-premier Wayne Goss opened it. I understand I'm to warm you up for the play. It wasn't as though it was a sudden instant success, although 'Bulletin' magazine called it a national treasure. Interestingly enough no-one ever forgets coming to Karnak, or especially to Karnak Playhouse, because it's a place where hazard is at the top of the list. I mean, it might rain but then again it might not. Are they arriving, people? And then extraordinary things happen, because bats flit across and choruses of croaking frogs and ducks walk in and dogs...

It's quite mad. I didn't actually want it to rain but seeing as it has, what can I do? It's still an experience. PRODUCTION SCORE PLAYS We've got a play about a man who is probably just about as cracked as we were called Jose Paronella who built a castle in the rainforest. It was almost as though we did the impossible dream and that's what this play is called, 'The Impossible Dream'. You look like a Parisian gangster. I must say I love that, the idea of the play along with the croaking frogs and the ducks walk in. Is Karnak also an impossible dream, in the sense of really the place that you were trying out, the idea of the sustaining community, the Bennett ideas?

Yes. That's true. And one day it will.

It hasn't arrived at that place yet but it's beginning to clear. I can see how it can do it. What are the underlying principles? Do they work? I mean, that's the bigger question, isn't it? I think they do. I've just had a residency with writers and this has happened before and I know that they need that place to come to and completely... No telephones, no anything, just 'cause we're out of range of even cell phones, I mean, mobiles. And they come there and they all that I have met, have really worked terribly well there. Now towards the end of his life, Tony spent a lot of time in England. Some. And you made the painful discovery that there was another woman. To tell you the truth I didn't actually take it very seriously because he was... He didn't, he didn't. That's the whole point. What was painful to me was that I wasn't there when he died. That still is painful for me. Just in a practical sense,

the will has been subject to back and forth and a court action. With this layer upon layer of complexity about these financial affairs and so on, does that really threaten your financial underpinnings? Well, yes. But I haven't let it because if I did I couldn't function properly. In talking to you, one thing which is very apparent is that you're very centred as a person, and very deeply thought through about all manner of things in your life. So, how do you think about future chapters in your life?

Are the things you turn to next, are they very important?

Or do they not matter much?

I think everything in your life matters. I think that the unfolding of your life, the chaptering of your life, let's call it, is something extraordinarily exciting. I mean, I don't think... I do think despair probably is the greatest sin.

It has been called that, it wasn't me that said it. But I don't feel that my life is in that vein at all. I think it could be if I had gone in another way and not had all my going back to school and learning about all sorts of things. I think that I am in a situation, as you just said, of being able to actually handle a lot of things I wouldn't have been able to handle before.

It's all grits to the mill, isn't it? I mean, it's all a wonderful unfolding of new and extraordinary things every day.

I think that's the best thing about life. Otherwise you might as well roll over and get out of it. What a great pleasure it's been spending this last half hour with you. It's lovely to meet you too. I've always been a fan of yours, you know that. Diane, thank you very much. Diane Cilento. And that's our program for this week. We'll be back with another Talking Heads at the same time next week. In the meantime if you'd like to look at our website, we're at: And I'll see you again soon. THEME MUSIC Closed Captions provided by Captioning and Subtitling International Pty. Ltd. And next week on Talking Heads, Margaret Court. SPECTATORS APPLAUD I said, "God, if you're really there, where are you? "There must be a greater relationship "that I can have with you than what I know". Wednesday, Maggie, Simon and the cook and the chef who have inspired them. Don't be cheeky. Stephanie Alexander and Chong Liu. And actually make it visually exciting. That's the Cook and the Chef, Wednesday 6:30.

This program is not subtitled This program is captioned


Tonight John Howard gets a

lashing at the Pacific for

yum. This is typical of his

arrogant at truth of your

people, your leader. A

leading forecaster says it is

full speed ahead for

Australia's economy. The

woman who defied history to

save her family. And has

science solved Australia's

greatest sporting mystery?

Good evening. Welcome to ABC

News. In continuing fallout

over the Julian Moti affair

leaders of Melanesian

countries at the Pacific

Islands forum have condemned

the actions of Australian

police who raided the Solomon

Islands Prime Minister's office last week. They have