The Wild Life Diane Neal Leads Is Something To See - Exclusive

Diane Neal takes on her most twisted role yet in Lifetime's Circle of Deception, portraying former beauty queen Peggy Sue Thomas, who uses her charm and penchant for remaining on top to run a ring of lies around her lover, her best friend, and her friend's husband who's mysteriously shot within the film's first few minutes. Still, sometimes life is stranger than fiction and Neal, who's a survivor of domestic abuse and a high-profile breakup, knows better than anyone else. "All those Dateline episodes and Lifetime movies [have] got to come from somewhere," she told Nicki Swift in an exclusive interview.

The film marks Neal's first role since 2015's Blue Bloods, but that doesn't mean the Law & Order: SVU alum hasn't been busy. As her more than 95,000 followers on Twitter know, Neal is an avid pop culture fan and politically active, even running for Congress in New York's 19th congressional district as an independent in 2018. "It was the most insane thing I've ever done," Neal admitted. "Because [I was] like, 'I'm going to do this and I'm going to go as high brow as humanly possible. Nothing negative. I'm even going to get rid of all party affiliation because we're too factionalized.'" She continued, "What an error in judgment. It was like the ultimate smackdown everyday."

But a run for office isn't the only offbeat path Neal has ventured down, and the esteemed actor — and Harvard grad — is filled with stories about her wild life.

Diane Neal registered one of the largest voting blocs

Although Diane Neal finished with one percent of the votes in her 2018 run for Congress, it wasn't a total loss by any means. According to Neal, she helped register nearly "75,000 people to vote in [her] district." Her political turn, which she jokingly called "the dumbest smartest thing" she's ever done, also allowed her to explore her more intellectual side.

"The progressives are really terrible at breaking down complicated policy into sound bites," Neal explained. "I found really fun, easy ways to talk to them because I got rid of the party thing." Her campaign championed "empathy and reason," and though a lack of party affiliation might have affected her voter turnout, it also meant she got to speak to groups that typically might not give a Hollywood actor the time of day, including the NRA. "It was wild," Neal said, adding that she "got to go everywhere" though her focus now is to "just keep working" as an actor.

Diane Neal is an accidental cat person

Considering Diane Neal is "crazy allergic to cats," she never thought she'd have a spot in her furry family — which consists of dogs Charlie and Winnie — for a feline. However during our interview about her latest film Circle of Deception, she found herself stopping mid-sentence and bursting out laughing. "I don't know if you heard that," she said. "That was the cat using the toilet." Suffice to say, she changed her tune.

It all happened after she decided to take in an outdoor cat during the winter while living "up in the woods." After Neal brought the cat to the veterinarian, she learned her newest addition was pregnant. "I made these birthing centers all around my house [and] researched everything you could research about cat birthing," Neal said. "Anyway, she ended up not using any of the birthing centers that I'd made but ended up giving birth in my evening gown closet." Yikes! 

It's not hard to see how Neal fell in love with cats. Her current cat Velvis is a constant fixture on her Instagram account, and he looks pretty good in a toupee if we do say so ourselves.

This serious actor has a funny side

Diane Neal has brought to life some of the most bad*ss and determined women in television history on shows like Law & Order: SVU and NCIS, but her turn as Peggy Sue Thomas allowed her to add a skosh of biting humor in what reads as a very dark character on paper. 

As it turns out, the red headed actor has a fiery sense of humor and a passion for standup. "Comedy is my favorite thing on earth," Neal told us, explaining that she never had an opportunity to showcase her comedic side on television because "all the drama [show] pilots would book first and then the [sitcom] auditions would happen." Because her dramatic prowess got her quickly booked, she never made it "to the comedy" auditions.

"I just resorted to doing standup which was incredibly fun because it's one of those things that ... even when it's bad, it's really fun," Neal said. "Every time I see standup comedy [on stage], I'm like, 'Oh, let me up.'" The Circle of Deception star also knows her respective audiences well, quipping that when she's in Los Angeles, she's dropping lines like, "Alright, let's talk about Goop," and when she's hitting the stage in New York, she's opening up with, "Did everyone listen to NPR this morning?"

Diane Neal has found a very interesting way to connect with fans

Between taking care of her furry family, making, and binge watching television — her absolute favorite is Showtime's The Borgias — Diane Neal always has something on her plate, but she's found a surprisingly enjoyable way to stay connected with fans through Cameo. "I thought they were going to be full cheese ball [but] it has been so beyond fun to hang out with fans," she explained, adding that she was assisting with a wedding proposal the day of our interview.

As her Cameo profile reads, Neal is available on the platform to make fans "giggle, say hello, wish the best or maybe just give some Novak stink eye." Rest assured, she told us that every request gets the authentic Diane Neal treatment — whether she's dressed up with "hair and makeup done" or chilling "in the bathtub with [her] shower cap on." For the record, we'd watch her read the phonebook!

Circle of Deception is now playing on Lifetime.