This intimate access to her mother’s mind has made Keaton aware of how little she knew her father and how little she understands men in general. “My mother wrote reams, but from Dad, we got nothing—a couple of letters,” she says. “I’d read into those small messages sent from my father’s brain to me. He’s much more of a mystery.” She pauses. “All men are. Mm-hmm.”
Although Keaton has never married, she has dated some complicated men, including Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and Al Pacino. But she swears that there is no man in her life now (her ex-act words are, “No, oh-ho, none”), and that she can’t imagine one in her future. “It’s a huge part of life that’s missing, yeah, but I don’t miss it,” she says. The very idea of couples falling in love later in life—so memorably portrayed in Something’s Gotta Give—makes her explode with questions: “Do you think they kiss?” she squeals. “They have sex? That’s something I can’t imagine at all. For me it was always, ‘Oh, no!’ ” She mimes backing away, waggling her hands. “And then I couldn’t help myself, because just, biologically, you can’t help but go toward it. It’s too exciting.” She shakes her head. “Ugh! I don’t want that excitement. Too scary. I see it as a danger zone. Who would we become, together? I just . . . unnnh.”
What fascinates Keaton today is the way her teenage daughter is handling the opposite sex. “With Dexter, it’s [all about] boys right now. Could she be more different from me? She goes to them, talks to them. She makes the dates. It’s refreshing, not waiting for someone to pick you. Which seems to be the story of my life regarding men and being an actress.
“I don’t think men even look at me anymore,” she continues. “If anything could work in that area, it would probably be if I paid him. Then I think we could work out an affable relationship. ‘Remember, at eight we’re going to dinner. Until then you’re free, take care of yourself.’ ” She grins; she’s joking, of course, though so seamlessly that she had you for a second. “I’m totally for it! I pay for everything else.” She snorts at herself. “I bet I’ll have a lot of suitors now, right?”
Kidding aside, Keaton calls her independence “wonderful. I’m free to do what I want to try to do. I don’t have to worry that I’m not living up to some responsibility as a partner to somebody else.” And what she wants to do is a lot. She wants to keep making movies. She spent part of the past year talking to women’s groups about her work and her mother’s illness on the Unique Lives & Experiences lecture tour (former speakers include Goldie Hawn and Jane Fonda). She’s set to star in her first TV series (untitled at presstime), for HBO, as a Gloria Steinem–like feminist icon who attempts to reignite the movement by starting a porn magazine for women. Keaton’s also working on two new architecture books (she’s already published several); she’s trying to sell her Spanish-style home in Beverly Hills and develop another property that she owns; and through the National Trust for His-toric Preservation she’s fighting to prevent L.A.’s Century Plaza hotel from being demolished.
“I don’t really relax much,” Keaton says—the understatement of the after-noon. “Like, I can’t go and nap, ever. I’m not interested in relaxing until I hit the sack, and then it’s like [crash noise]. I wouldn’t know what to do with a week off. Except for one little area, m-e-n, I’m excited, I’m ready to go, sign me up.”