Q&A: Diane Keaton

Excerpts From <B>Lesley Stahl's</B> Interview With Oscar-Nominated Actress

Read excerpts from Lesley Stahl's interview with Diane Keaton, who's nominated for Best Actress at this year's Academy Awards.
Keaton On Being A Regular Gal:
Lesley Stahl: You have the air of the ordinary about you. You take it as a compliment?

Diane Keaton: Oh, I totally do. I'm firmly rooted in the ordinary. I'm like this person that was kind of not expected to do much of anything in life. And I feel like I'm very much an ordinary woman ... Except, it turns out, I'm not. Because I had all these opportunities. Because I got all these opportunities. And it's just amazing.

Keaton On Her Breakthrough Role In "Annie Hall":
Stahl: We all want you. "Annie Hall." ... He [Woody Allen] wrote that movie about you, for you.

Keaton: Yeah ... I do think, yes, I think he did.

Stahl: It was you. Annie Hall was Diane Keaton.

Keaton: Pretty much. It was a variation of me. Yes. It was an idealized version of me, let's put it that way.

Stahl: Do you want to get rid of that [image]?

Keaton: I don't want to be identified as one thing only. I remember somebody once said to me "Don't ever change" when I did "Annie Hall." But I think that stunts any kind of growth. And so, my feeling was that scared the hell out of me. I knew I had to change. You gotta change, don't you think? I mean, otherwise, what are you going to do?

Stahl: You won an Oscar for "Annie Hall." What was that like?

Keaton: Strange. Very strange experience. Because I knew that I wasn't going to win. So you can imagine, I was sitting next to my sister who was my date. And I just wasn't really prepared to win at all.

It was really the shock of my life. And I think that was remarkable that it was a comedy. It was remarkable that it was a comic performance that won.

Stahl: What if it happened again with this movie?

Keaton: That would be an all the more remarkable performance, because it would be so sweet. I'm a much older person. Yet, I'm still in a comedy. And I love comedies. I mean, that's really kind of home for me...

It's easier for me. Because I feel freer to just let myself go. And I kinda get it. I kinda get comedy.

It's sort of one of things where I remember Charles Shyer, Nancy Meyers' partner in "Baby Boom." He was director. He once came up to me and I was doing a scene with Sam Shepard. And I was kissing him. And you know, I was taking it very seriously. Who wouldn't with Sam Shepard? He's pretty attractive. So he said to me, "Diane, remember. It's comedy." And it was jut the perfect direction ... Comedy is different and I think that it's something I really love.

Keaton On Baring It All In "Something's Gotta Give":
Keaton:I had to play the part. I had to open up. And not only be naked literally, but naked emotionally. And I don't like it one bit. I just hate going there. Yet, at the same time, what's so beautiful about it is that it's transporting when you're in the moment with a great actor. And I think, with great words, and with a director like Nancy [Meyers], who is your most supportive audience.

Frankly, it's been a long time since anybody has had ay interest in me. And I'm talking about directors ... Nancy was obsessed with me, because frankly, I was kind of playing Nancy. And it elevated me.

Stahl: So Nancy Meyers was writing the part about herself.

Keaton: Right. Well, I think to the extent that we're the same age. Other than that, I think not. The thing about Nancy's partnership with me is that we've now done four movies together.

I think that in some way, I get it with you and with what she has to say. And also, I think the experience for women from their 30s to their 50s -- she and I have shared, in that regard. But our lives couldn't be more different. Obviously, I'm much more of an eccentric.

As I was saying before, when Nancy said it's going to be open. "We're going to be open," I kept saying to her, "Well, can't I wear my glasses?" And then, "You said turtlenecks..." She just forced me to take it off. Just to be a woman, a woman without the guise of whatever you're trying to hide. And so, I love her for that.

Stahl: You change in the movie. You start out --

Keaton: More buttoned up. Exactly. And controlling. I think the key issue in Nancy's movie is that this woman thinks she can control life. And that in fact, the only way to really experience life and all of its great joys is to let go.

And letting go is very hard when you're in your mid 50s. I think that, but then, it's also so much more sweet when you do. I think we all know that, as you get older, loss is everywhere. We can't get away from it. And the more you acknowledge loss, the more you can really experience the bittersweet joy of how fleeting life is. And that is something only an older person could play and experience in.

Stahl: What is the message of this funny movie?

Keaton: I think the message in this movie that people over 50, you know, Jack and I, if you add our ages up, we're 125 years old. That's old. And I think that what it says is that people of a certain age should not taken out into a field ... and shot. I think we have a lot of vitality. And I think we can experience all the excitement of being in love and being sexy and having fun. Why should we be regulated to the dustbin?

I think that's what Nancy's movie does. And she does it in a really interesting way with a great actor and with a great supporting team.


Keaton On Love And Relationships:
Stahl: You have said in interview that you're finished with romance.

Keaton: I am. Yeah. ... My feeling about romantic love is that unfortunately, it's not rooted in the ordinary realistic world. And for a person like me, I was not looking for love as an experience of sharing.

It was more of this heightened state when I was younger. And I think that the closer you come to being realistic about love -- like, for example, for me in my life at this point, the fact that I have children and that I'm raising children and that it's been the most profound love experience of life is in fact to be completely rooted in reality.

You're in a constant state of problem solving. It's not like you're being transported to this other place where people worship you and kiss you and tell you you're beautiful and all these ridiculous things that just really -- I mean, they're sweet in a moment. But the thing is, you get addicted to that -- and that's not real love to me. And I think that in that regard, this idea of romantic love is a very dangerous area for a person like me...

In the movies, it's a safe venue because I'm going to be happy in the movie because Nancy wrote a happy ending. Of course, it isn't always like that in life.

Stahl: If you wrote a book, what would you say about your relationship with Woody Allen?

Keaton: I would say that Woody Allen remained a great friend. And I think that speaks really well of him. And I think it speaks well of the fact that our relationship was really based on a friendship.

Stahl: Well, you remained friends with Warren Beatty as well.

Keaton: Yeah, I remain acquaintances with Warren. I don't really stay in touch with Warren. Warren and I don't really see each other much. But when we do, it's affectionate. But I think Woody, that's something different. We really remained friends. Real friends. And that's more.


Keaton On Her Career:
Stahl: Do you love your career? Is this the most important thing -- that you're still able to work and still able to get these great roles?

Keaton: I'm very proud of surviving, because I know what it feels like to have made so many things that haven't worked. But this idea of surviving is not really completely dependent on partnerships. It's not me alone. It's the idea of a community. And the idea that I've gone through these sort of phases in my life. There was the Woody Allen phase. And there was working with Warren [Beatty], which was very exciting. And doing "The Godfather." But it's really interesting that the longest relationships -- working relationships -- have been in the arena of romantic comedy.

Stahl: Your career has been rooted in your relationships. The Woody Allen phase. The Warren Beatty phase -- and you had a relationship with him. ... Al Pacino, "The Godfather."

Keaton: That phase was not so much a professional experience. We did the "Godfathers." But you know, those were just Francis'[Ford Coppola] really. I think of those as Francis' really. I also think that "The Godfather" was not really where -- I didn't shine in "The Godfather." You know, it wasn't really about a woman. In fact, the woman was very peripheral. And I remember feeling like an outcast, the outcast.

Stahl:If you got a chance to work with any director you wanted to, who would it be?

Keaton: I know what story I would like to be in. I'd like to be in a story like "Seabiscuit." But there's never a part for a woman in "Seabiscuit." I'd like to be the trainer of the horse. That would be my idea of something great ...

There's a host of directors. But, it's endless the people you all want to work with, you know? Like Sofia Coppola. I would love to work with her. I would love to work with Anthony Minghella. I would like to work with well, Clint Eastwood, of course. Any of the people who are making these movies that have, you know, really been these great, profound experiences to watch this year. ... All the up and coming directors. Everybody. I mean, I want to work.


Keaton On Her Children:
Stahl: You decided to adopt children as a single mother in your 50s. How did that come about?

Keaton: I was 50 ... It took me a long time to become an adult, in spite of the fact that I was an aging adult.

A lot of things happened in my life that made me finally decide to adopt. One was, my father was ill. And he died. And I also broke up from a relationship. And I also had to take a long, hard look about what I was going to do with the rest of my life. So, all those factors.

Stahl:Did you say, "I'm never gonna get married" at some point?

Keaton: I kind of felt at a certain point that this wasn't going to happen, probably. Unlikely.

Stahl:So you went and adopted. Is that very difficult out here, in Hollywood, to raise a child -- as a single mother?

Keaton: To raise a child is the most humbling experience in life. Bar none, OK? And I think that is glorious in of itself. The fact that you really are put right back on the planet Earth firmly with your two feet. You know where you are. You are raising children and they are astonishing.

Stahl:How has it changed your life?

Keaton: It's given my life a real purpose that it never had before. I was very heavily involved in myself forever. And this changes the whole landscape of your life. Your whole point of view in a good way. In a nice way. ... I just think they are both miracles. And the miracle is to watch the process of a human being's growth from the beginning of time. And each one of them is so unbelievably imaginative to me.

I think it also extends your world view about people -- because you realize that each and every one of us is exceptionally special. And it also makes you realize that you have a huge responsibility to treasure that quality that everybody has, the best of them.


Keaton On Getting Older:
Stahl: Plastic surgery. You said you haven't. Nothing.

Keaton: Oh, no. I've never. I haven't done anything ... But hey, getting old is hard. And you want to be attractive. But on the other hand, I've very interested in the idea of trying to hang in with authenticity in that regard.

I just know that when Nancy cast the movie, she cast two people in the lead -- Jack and me -- who are what we are. Neither one of us has had any work done. And I thought that lent something to the movie, myself.

I mean, who really cares? Actresses that are great are always great, whether -- whatever they've done to their face. It doesn't really matter. They still have their incredible talent, if they're talented.

And it doesn't go away. I believe it that. So it's really just a kind of choice about how you want to go. And I feel like somebody has to represent the other side. So maybe it's gonna be me.

It's hard, because the demand on being attractive are enormous in our business, where you're sticking your head out there all the time. We'll see. I hope I can hang in.

  • Rebecca Leung

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