Dunne says, "Diane is certainly the kind of mother I would like to have if I were a messed-up teenage kid, a yummy mommy. If you close your eyes and just listen to her voice, you can tell that she’s secure and confident, someone you can enjoy rather than think you have to spend a lot of time making feel good about herself."
Longing to Be Home Again
Lane rests her forehead on her hand and then looks up. "I’m having the most intense maternal experience these days," she explains. "You know that moment when the moon takes over from the sun at the end of the day and you can watch the light actually shift? I’m watching the teenager take over from the child in both my daughter" (whom she had with her first husband, actor Christopher Lambert) "and stepdaughter. But separated by this distance, all I can do is advise over the phone. I’m a puddle of mush. I go into fabulous denial about how uncomfortable I feel being away from home. So I do it again, then go, ‘Wait a minute, Diane. Don’t you remember how awful that separation felt?’"
If Lane broods about not being with her children, she glows when she talks about her husband. Brolin was the first man with children she had ever dated, a fact she feels is significant. "I was fishing out of a different pond," she says, "proof that I’d grown up and was ready for a deeper experience." She is careful to stress that Eleanor has a kind, funny, and loving father, but nonetheless, she says, "When I met Josh, I met someone I could parent with; it’s hard to share that job and in some ways it’s easier to do alone. But mothers need to be told, ‘Do your best. You’re doing a good job. I see you struggle. You’re not alone.’" By the time she met Brolin, she had learned to be fearlessly direct and honest. "I ran on hunches more when I was young," she says. "Josh and I communicate in a much more clear and open way." She gives a small smile. "Speaking just logistically, we have to."
She wed Brolin in bare feet, in front of 80 guests (including her new in-laws, James Brolin and Barbra Streisand), on the Brolin family ranch in Templeton, California, with Trevor as the ring bearer and Eleanor and Eden acting as flower girls. "For bodyguards we had cowboy friends with shotguns, riding horses around the property," Lane recalls. "It was quite effective and much more charming than having men in black with walkie-talkies."
Lane’s Final Destination
As for the honeymoon, the couple took advantage of their girls’ attendance at summer camp and had it before the wedding. "We drove through five states in a Jeep and slept in motels without reservations," she says happily. "I get on planes and dress up for work, so my idea of a good time is not the glamorous path. There is something about letting the universe provide for you that is very enlivening. You follow your gut and you feel more alive."
"It’s euphoria to be in my own life with people who are real," Lane says. By Hollywood standards, her family life is simple and rare. "Josh and I like to do our own driving, thank you very much. And we drop off and pick each other up from airports with as many kids in the car as possible."
These days Lane considers herself to be the object of one of life’s sly jokes. Just when she is having her first experience of steady, supportive family life, her career becomes a juggernaut. "It’s like one of those space movies," she says, searching for an image, "like when the Apollo 13 space capsule reenters the earth’s atmosphere — is it going to burn up or not? That’s what it feels like to go beyond the simple years where the possibilities are there just because of the way you look. Will I be able to reenter?" But despite being torn between her new family and her career, she isn’t interested in hanging up her acting boots. Her life is just full. She loves it that way. At 41, she is having a second honeymoon with Hollywood, and this time, she has no reservations.
Originally published in MORE magazine, March 2006.