By Linda Shortman
I met Diane Ladd when I was a volunteer driver for the Newport Film Festival. Before I left to pick her up, someone commented to me that they heard she could be demanding.
I was nervous driving to the airport, but the woman who stepped off the plane was lovely, friendly, charming, and funny. I was relieved. On our ride to Newport, we got acquainted and talked about the day’s film screening and awards ceremony.
There was a special screening of Rambling Rose and a book signing that afternoon. She was also receiving a Pell Award for her contributions to the arts. When I was the first person she thanked in her acceptance speech, referencing Rhode Island hospitality, I was taken aback and flattered.
When all of the formalities were over, she looked at me and said, “Now I can play, please show me this lovely city.” I took her on a ride around Newport’s Ocean Drive and the historical landmarks in town. She stepped into a local shop and pick up a new hat. She and her husband invited me to dinner that night along with a screening of the closing night film.
After the film, she asked, “Is there anywhere to get ice cream around here?” Looking at me over her ice cream at the creamery, she smiled and said, “I am having such a good time!” Back at the hotel, as we said our goodbyes, I received a warm hug, a gift, and best wishes from a very talented actor that I’d had no need to fear. Since then, I have enjoyed seeking out and rewatching a lot of her work. Here are five of my favorite Diane Ladd performances that I think are worth renting.
An ex-con reunites with his girlfriend. Her mother is played by Ladd, who wants to keep them apart and hires a hit man to kill him. The chase is on when they set off on a crazy road trip with twists, turns, sex, and violence.
A story centered on the woman who founded a business dynasty based on a mop. Joy (played by Jennifer Lawrence) becomes the boss of the family and the business. Ladd is great in a cameo as her grandmother.
Working for a family in the south during the depression, a young woman struggles with her sexuality. Ladd plays the maternal figure of a young woman who is played by her real-life daughter Laura Dern. The two earned the rare distinction of a real-life mother and daughter nominated for Oscars playing mother and daughter in the same film.
The investigation into a man’s activities in 1930s Los Angeles, turns up a lot of surprises in this classic thriller. Ladd plays a “working girl” trying to mislead the investigation. The twists and turns make for high drama. Politics and a surprise ending makes this one of the best films ever made.
When a young woman’s husband dies, she is forced to find a new life for she and her son. Following her dream to be a singer, she takes a job as a waitress in a diner to pay the bills. There she meets another waitress, Flo, played by Ladd. At first, the relationship is contentious, but it proves to be a compass for Alice in her new life.