Diane Keaton: The Art of Being Yourself

In our May cover story and exclusive excerpt from her new book, Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty, the iconic actress celebrates “inappropriate” women, reflects on male aging and rejoices in enjoying beauty rather than in being beautiful. Still Keaton after all these years

by Margot Dougherty
Keaton is wearing her own suit (from Thom Browne), bow tie, shirt and pocket square.
Photograph: Peggy Sirota

“Hello!” Diane Keaton sings, walking into a beachside restaurant in Santa Monica wearing a black Marni dress with ­electric-blue rivulets over a long-sleeved white shirt, buttoned to the collar, and black-and-white polka dot pants. Her chunky black boots seem just the thing for climbing telephone poles. It’s a getup few could pull off, but Keaton, 68, owns it: She looks fantastic.

Keaton has always been known for her quirky style; her menswear look in 1977’s Annie Hall, the movie that earned her an Oscar, made her a global icon. She later turned her eye to architecture, authoring two richly photographed volumes on remarkable houses. “I think what drives her is that she wants to explore beauty in every form,” says her good friend, actress Carol Kane.

Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty, Kea­ton’s new book, is an honest, moving, eloquent and sometimes funny pastiche of memories and contemplations of beauty and aging, family and friends (see excerpt, right). She says she wrote snatches at a time, editing as she went. “What I really like to do, because I’m not a writer, is to talk it,” she says. “I read the whole thing out loud, over and over.”

Keaton, who has lived in 15 homes in 18 years, writes that she is a real estate “junkie” who’s searching for “a beautiful life lived in a beautiful home.” She and her daughter, Dexter, 18, and son, Duke, 13, now reside in L.A.’s Pacific Palisades, where, she says, “you feel like you’re part of the neighborhood.” Meanwhile, she’s building her dream house in nearby Sullivan Canyon, a bucolic area where horses clop down the road. But Keaton still isn’t sure she wants to leave the neighborhood where she runs into friends while walking her dog. It’s “the neighborhood versus the dream,” she says.

The same quandary influenced her romantic life. She had relationships with Warren Beatty and Al Pacino but didn’t marry. “I told myself I wanted to,” she says, “but I didn’t really want a man that I could have. The dream or the neighborhood? I wanted the dream.”

The former boyfriend she’s closest to is Woody Allen, with whom she’s made six movies, including Annie Hall. In January she accepted a lifetime achievement award on Allen’s behalf at the Golden Globes. Three weeks later, Dylan Farrow, the adopted daughter of Allen and his onetime partner Mia Farrow, spoke out in the New York Times, resurfacing allegations that Allen had sexually abused her when she was seven. “All I can say is that I’m Woody’s friend and I’ve been Woody’s friend for 45 years and nothing’s going to change that,” says Keaton. “That’s my only response except to say obviously it’s a sad, sad, painful story.” Farrow called her out personally in her open letter—“You knew me when I was a little girl, Diane Keaton. Have you forgotten me?” Keaton counters, “But I didn’t know her. I did meet her a few times, like a 42-year-old adult meets a kid. But I didn’t know her.”

Approaching her next decade, Keaton says she wants to “keep doing what I’m doing, keep seeing things and expressing myself.” Later this year she appears in And So It Goes, with Michael Douglas, opening July 11, and Life Itself, opposite Morgan ­Freeman—with whom she sang Sinatra and show tunes before takes.

First published in the May 2014 issue

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