Diane Lane has attempted to mask her sex appeal. She really has.
But as hard as she tried, she couldn't help but make her pastel cardigan titillating in Secretariat. Her curves found a way to strut through baggy denim in Nights in Rodanthe. Boxy flannel and messy tears might as well have been a corset and a come-hither pout in The Perfect Storm. And that's not a bad thing.
Without fail, men, women, and horses are drawn to Lane’s effortless seduction. Is this the actress who should—or can, for that matter—play Hillary Clinton? Can Diane Lane refrain from being sexy? Even a little bit?
No offense to Hillary. The recent secretary of State is in no way hard on the eyes, and her style (ahem, scrunchie) has been on the right side of the spotlight for years. The former first lady is unarguably one of the most influential women in the world, so it’s clear why NBC is investing in the four-hour miniseries Hillary, which will track her life and career from 1998 to present. But she doesn’t quite emanate lust the way Lane repeatedly does—it’s Clinton’s thought-provoking debates that tend to get a rise out of people, not her sex appeal. And that's not a bad thing either.
A quick “Diane Lane” Web search, on the other hand, brings pages of headlines including the word “sexy,” in addition to stories highlighting her natural talent. But ask the friends sitting near you (straight or gay) what they think about Diane Lane, and there’s a chance they're not going to comment on the fact that she was declared one of Hollywood’s “whiz kids” as a teen, was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award in the Best Actress category, or that she is 48 years old. Yes, 48. What they'll likely remember is that Unfaithful scene—you know the one.
At this point, it’s safe to say that Lane could wear a Snuggie and Crocs and she would still possess a sensual glow. She was part of AskMen.com’s top 99 most desirable women three years in a row, and The Telegraph deemed her a 40-something sex symbol. The woman’s been working an audience since her alluring Seventeen cover in 1980, with no signs of slowing down.
The question is glaring: will Lane be able to hold a stern political conversation on camera long enough for people to escape visions of her in that dark hallway or like a lady in that tiny public bathroom? (She really got around in Unfaithful's 124 minutes.) Solid acting aside, can she reduce her sexual magnetism to a point where a scrunchie is just a scrunchie and not a potential sex toy? Chances are, probably not.
Maybe that’s exactly what NBC is hoping for. The miniseries is “part of NBC's effort to create ‘event’ programming that will draw viewers to the shrinking world of broadcast network TV," the network’s programming chief said Saturday.
Is casting Lane as the accomplished politician and whispered 2016 presidential candidate a total fail, or is it genius? If it's more about a numbers game for the wobbling network, then perhaps the real question is not if NBC mistakenly cast a much-too-sexy Clinton, but if NBC knows exactly what it’s doing. For Hillary and for Hillary.