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 uses the basement of her rented Pacific Palisades home as a storage area for years’ worth of collectibles. There, she’s now editing a trio of photography books. The most conventional one focuses on Spanish Colonial architecture, while another — Scrapped — reflects on people’s odd cut-and-paste obsessions, using pages selected from Keaton’s storehouse of vintage scrapbooks. The third in the photography trilogy spotlights the oeuvre of an obscure commercial photographer from Texas named Bill Woods Jr. "His work really pictures the culture, the community, and what every event was like in Fort Worth during the 1950s and 1960s," she says, her resonant voice rising with excitement. "It’s astonishing to see. You really have to see it. You will not believe it."

Back when Keaton was a young girl, her piano teacher gave her a small button that offered three words of guidance that she still believes in to this day: Make work play. "It really does make life different if you love your work," she says, adding that, in her mind, the piano teacher’s advice extends to everything, from hobbies to love. "Zoned out" is how Keaton describes how she lived her life during her 20s and 30s. What she loves about 61 is that everything is in sharper focus. "I feel much more alive. When you’re younger, you have a tendency to be relieved by fantasies. But now the drama of real life comes charging in."

It’s almost six p.m. "I have to pick up The Dex at swim team practice," Keaton says. Sitting on a bench in front of Shutters, waiting for the valet to bring her black Mercedes SUV, she shares a dream she has about one day moving to the saguaro-cactus-dotted foothills of Tucson. "We’d have some land…" she says, her sentence trailing off as she stretches out her legs and visibly cozies up to the idea.

In April, the Film Society at Lincoln Center will honor Keaton for her contributions as an "actor, producer, director, photographer, and style icon" at its annual black-tie gala. Keaton admits she’s flattered by the tribute, but it also seems to be, like her whole substantially splendid life right now, something that she just can’t wrap her head around. "It’s, like, uh, gee, recognition. Oh, god. How is this possible? It’s a surreal experience. I sort of feel like it’s not mine," she says, smiling but looking a bit puzzled. "I’m thrilled. But I don’t know exactly how it happened."

 

Originally published in MORE magazine, February 2007.

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