Diane Keaton's Slant on Life

Regrets? She has a few. But at 61, Diane Keaton counts the joys: two young kids, three book projects, four new films (including the February release of "Because I Said So"), a slew of awards, and one great sunset after another.

by Margy Rochlin
Diane Keaton
Photograph: Photo by: Suzanne Tenner/Universal Pictures

"She said, ‘Hold on, hold on, hold on. Mandy? Do you want to go again?’" says Moore, who was then bestowed a crucial nugget of advice. "She was, like, ‘Never let them move on unless you’re ready. This is your work. You have to be 100 percent secure and happy with it.’" Yet on this late afternoon, when I remind Keaton of this incident and ask whether it is evidence of her rumored mentoring of younger creative women, she tries to dispel that notion with a pffft and a dismissive flap of her hand. "I have no interest in passing on any wisdom I don’t have," she says. "I just felt like maybe she wanted more takes and to go for it. It’s all right to ask."

Evolution of an Actress

It’s an evasive answer, but compared with the famously press-shy Keaton of yore, the woman now sitting in Shutters’ Pico One drinking green tea is a jabberer. My notes from a 1986 set visit to Bruce Beresford’s film adaptation of Crimes of the Heart, which starred Keaton, Jessica Lange, and Sissy Spacek as the loopy Magrath sisters, read "DK popular with townspeople … doesn’t want to talk to me …" and, later, "DK agrees to talk after shooting is finished." Then, months later, when I have finally managed to get her on the phone, she’s barely understandable: "Talking to me through a mouthful of sandwich." Be it midlife confidence or simply a better grasp of how to submit to interviews, today’s Keaton is a willing, if occasionally elusive, conversationalist, fixing you with her intelligent hazel eyes and offering answers filled with reflection. Her blunt assessment of why she never tied the knot? "When I was young, of course, I was terrified by the notion of being an old maid. But I don’t feel like my mother guided me toward marriage. She never hit the propaganda trail on that one," she says. Go to youtube.com and you’ll find that not one but two fans have reedited Something’s Gotta Give so that her fairy tale ending is by the side of a doting Keanu Reeves. But Keaton is matter-of-fact about her romantic life: She has forever closed the book on getting hitched. "I’m attracted to men, and I love playing around with them. But a life shared together? That’s a different world. I think you have to be somebody who can compromise and be realistic. I could never do it. Ever." Oh, and the men she dated — Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, Al Pacino — excelled at give-and-take? "I don’t blame myself for everything," she says with a little shrug. "But I wish I were more accommodating."

If Keaton’s mom, Dorothy Hall, neglected to plant Modern Bride aspirations in her eldest child’s head (Keaton has two sisters and a brother), she was Diane’s head cheerleader, wardrobe mistress, and all-around conspirator when it came to performing. Keaton, who assumed her mother’s maiden name when it turned out that the Actors’ Equity Association already had a Diane Hall, saw her every thespian step dutifully recorded in her mom’s diaries, books that Keaton occasionally still dips into when visiting Dorothy, who is 85 and lives in Newport Beach.

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