Things They Told Me #4: Diane Keaton




To mark the fact Diane Keaton turned 75 this week, I've dug into the vaults to find an interview I did with her for the 2017 film Hampstead.

The film is not, to be frank, one of her finer cinematic outings but getting to chat with her about it was very entertaining, made all the more memorable by the fact I was holidaying on the island of Giudecca in Venice at the time and had to rush back to the hotel to take her telephone call.

Here's what the Annie Hall Oscar winner had to say...


On being on screen so much in Hampstead...

'I didn't have enough time off because I'm in pretty much the whole film. That's a lot of Diane. I saw it and I was sitting there going "Man, it's an awful lot of me". I can't remember doing a movie where I was in so many scenes. I was like "There I am again! OK, you can go now. Goodbye!" It's too much – too much Diane. We've got to get rid of her.'

On co-starring with Brendan Gleeson in the film...

'He's just the most wonderful man. I kind of fell in love with him too. First of all he's a consummate actor, unlike me! He's not sloppy. He thinks it through and he's really brilliant and his ideas are so smart. He's a sweetheart. Did you see him in In Bruges? I loved him in that movie. He's a great, great actor.'

On always looking ahead...

'I'm constantly looking ahead. I'm always thinking "Gee, I'd like to do this" and "I'd like to try that". I've never really settled. I've done nothing but move, although granted with kids I moved in areas that kept them in the same schools. We've lived in a lot of houses within a certain neighbourhood and I've explored a lot of different kinds of homes – Spanish architecture, older styles, and recently I built a brick house, which was a big undertaking. I'm sitting outside now as I talk to you looking at all this brick and I'm thinking "What else can I do?" It's an endless process. Home to me is fantasising about a new home. It's terrible!'

On being a mum...

'I think I'd have been a very lonely, strange character if I hadn't been a mum. I don't think I would have addressed issues that were important for me to deal with in life – like what's it like to be another person and have different needs. I spent a lot of time with myself. I have a brother and two sisters who I love but a lot of time it was all about me and my needs and my career and my choices and on and on and endlessly on. Then the kids came along and it was like "Oh, I see".'

On her own mum...

'I took the opportunities she didn't have. I was born in 1946, which was very different to being born in 1922, plus I had a mother who did nothing but help me. I had an assistant my whole life in my mother. If I had an idea for a dress she would make the dress, when I wanted to perform she made sure I had acting lessons... It's pathetic how great she was and how much I used her for myself. That's the kind of person I am. Horrible. I'm a horrible person! I could never compare to my mother. I could never be that selfless. She was amazing.'

On her favourite films she’s been in...

'Obviously the ones that worked! But I will forever be indebted to and I owe every single thing to Woody Allen, everything, because otherwise it wouldn't have happened for me to carry on my career. Because of Annie Hall I've had so many opportunities and possibilities and I took them. Some of those turned out to be really wonderful.'

On not being pigeonholed as a comedienne...

'I've also had the chance to be in dramas. I guess people think of me as eccentric, which I am, but I've had opportunities to do more serious films.'

On her friends...

'I have some great, lasting friends and of both sexes, which I really like. I'm very fortunate and my friends have been very supportive. As usual, what did I want? I wanted people who would be nice to me. There's a theme here. Don't write about it.'

On if she cringes when people say Annie Hall's ‘La di da’ catchphrase to her in the street...

'No way. I'm grateful. I'm lucky I got to be in that movie and I have a responsibility not to be a jerk. I am a jerk, obviously, but not to people in the street. Come on man! Be a sport. I'm lucky. I'm a lucky jerk.'


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