There is something about her, perhaps a sense of vulnerability wrapped around an inner core of intelligence and strength, that applies to virtually everything she has done. So although the roles and characters may be different, and she has that remarkable capacity to make each character unique, and uniquely her own, there is in some sense a continuity as well. This is what marks her as a special talent: there is something an audience identifies with that is consistent over many roles, but Neve makes each particular role a discrete performance, in and of itself. That is why she may walk down any street and be recognized in such a strong way not only as the actor, but as a character she has played. It seems to be a recurring theme, that the general public truly identify with her characters, including the aforementioned Daisy from "Catwalk", Julia from "Party of Five" and Sidney from the "Scream" films.
For Neve, the point is not acclaim or fame; it is about the challenge. "I love working with artists. To learn from them is a special privilege." She should know. She has worked, for example, with director Alan Rudolph on the film "Investigating Sex", co-starring Nick Nolte and Dermot Mulroney. "Alan taught me—taught all of us who worked on the project, I think—how important the experience of working on a film is. He included everyone in watching the daily rushes, and that means the caterers, the janitors, the electricians. Anyone who wanted to look at the dailies was welcome to do so, and he was always open to comments." She shakes her head in obvious admiration.
Alan Rudolph was mentored by Robert Altman, with whom, notably, Neve has worked twice. But most remarkably, she convinced him to direct a project she had had in her mind "from the time I was 22 or so. I always knew it was a film I would need to make. I loved The Red Shoes, but I wanted to show it [the industry] from the inside, about the craft of dancing." That film was "The Company", a beautiful, intimate and telling look at a dance troupe. Altman directed it at Neve's request. "But I have to say, it's not like I just asked Bob to do it.
There were many months of exchanges, plenty of time for him to consider it. He needed to know what I wanted to do, what kind of statement it would be, if it was something he could identify with somehow." She pauses, smiles and says, "Most people said to me, 'Someone like Bob Altman would never want to direct your little ballet film.' I guess that made me say, 'Oh, really?' And he did agree to do it, eventually, I think because he liked the idea of exploring an ensemble working towards an artistic goal."
Neve's career choices have tended toward something a bit outside the mainstream. "I do love independent film. The big-budget films have so many people involved, and the script is pretty much always rigorously adhered to. It is someone's investment, after all, so it is understandable." Thinking back to her start in film, she remembers, "In the beginning, I felt I was guessing a lot, trying to find the right note, but I had an interest in foreign films, and took a lot of cues from there." And somehow, that seems appropriate.