Daria Nicolodi was born in 1950 in Florence, Italy. The daughter of a Catholic mother and Jewish father, she started acting in various theater companys when she was fourteen. At the young age of seventeen, she ran away from home.
Graduating two years early from the Swiss-German School in her home city, Nicolodi entered Rome's Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1967. While there, she met Luca Ronconi, a director who gave her the opportunity to make her debut a year later in the International Theatre Festival in Venice.
Nicolodi's first film appearance was as a nurse in 1970's Uomini contro (Many Wars Ago) but she first gained recognition in Elio Petri's La proprieta non e piu un furto AKA Property Is No Longer a Theft (1973).
Despite a healthy resume, Nicolodi is best known for her roles in five Dario Argento films. The first was Profondo Rosso (Deep Red), and it was during the filming that she and Argento became romantically involved. She was terrific as the journalist Gianna Brezzi, and was set to star in Argento's next film, Suspiria (1977).
However, the American distributor wanted an American for the lead role of Suzy and Daria was relegated to the secondary part of Sara. Unhappy with this situation, she used an accident during the filming of the dance routine as an excuse to bail out of the part.
Her consolation was receiving credit for writing the screenplay along with Argento. She based the treatment, in part, on stories her grandmother used to tell.
She was the lead in Mario Bava's Shock (also '77), which was later given the misleading title of Beyond the Door II. She played the mother of a possessed son in one of the many Omen-influenced pictures so popular at the time.
Nicolodi had a role in 1980's Inferno, a follow-up of sorts to Suspiria, but it would prove less successful and was not widely seen.
1982's Tenebre AKA Unsane was a better showcase for her talent. She portrayed Anne, an agent for a successful mystery writer plagued by a series of murders patterned after his book.
The film contains one of our favorite moments. Anne enters an apartment to find out what happened to a police officer who has gone in to investigate. Opening the door, she knocks over a sharp edged sculpture and kills the murderer (her friend), whom she thought was already dead.
The last shot of Tenebre has her standing in the doorway in the rain as she screams non-stop for what seems like an eternity. A realistic reaction to a horrific situation.
There was an over-the-top performance in 1984's Phenomena (Creepers), and in Opera (1987), she played yet another agent. In a particularly memorable scene in the latter, she is looking through a peephole...when the killer points a gun through it and shoots her in the eye.
Even when underused, as in Lamberto Bava's 1987 middling giallo Foto di Gioia, Nicolodi is still a consistent joy to watch. Perhaps this is because she is a fan herself of the genre and her enthusiasm shows through.
When asked why she thought horror films are followed by legions of film fans all over the world and why they're loved by so many people, she responded, "For the simple reason that they manage to make you feel such strong emotions...emotions that other genres don't give you."
Asia, the daughter Nicolodi had with Argento, has followed in her mother's footsteps and continues to star in films.