A LEAGUE OF HER OWN
Diane Keaton Is Waiting for Woody’s Call
The Oscar-winning icon discusses her new film Love the Coopers, her new wine label, and the state of women in Hollywood.
There are a great many things in life that are intrinsically linked. Alcohol and bad decisions. Pizza and contentment. Donald Trump and tackiness. When you hear the name “Diane Keaton,” the image that immediately pops up in your head is that of Annie Hall, a marvelous medley of vest, tie, khakis, and neuroses. And then you think of Woody Allen, the filmmaker whom she met—and romanced—during his creative peak, resulting in a grand total of eight movie collaborations that included classics like Sleeper, Love and Death, Manhattan, and of course Annie Hall, which the Writers Guild of America recently crowned the funniest screenplay ever.
But alas, Keaton and Allen haven’t worked together in over two decades, since 1993’s Manhattan Murder Mystery. So what gives?
“Why don’t you speak to Woody about it! I’m right here,” says Keaton, punctuating her lines with that infectious laugh, as she so often does. “I’m ready for my call. I’m ready for the call that goes, ‘I’m thinking about you for this part, Diane.’ But no, he’s never called me. He’s never called me back. I don’t think he’s thinking about it, to tell you the truth, but he’s done pretty well without me, I think!”
Not that Keaton necessarily needs the call. She’s got a new film coming out, Love the Coopers, where she plays the matriarch of the Cooper clan—four generations of which gather for their annual Christmas Eve soiree. Of course, familial dysfunction ensues, sending each of the Coopers on their own separate path toward self-clarity. And joining Keaton in the festivities is a loaded cast, including John Goodman, Ed Helms, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde, Marisa Tomei, and more.Oh, and in addition to her new film, the 69-year-old screen legend has also unleashed The Keaton, which bills itself as a “robust red wine blend” that must be served on ice—just the way Keaton likes it.
The Daily Beast spoke to Keaton about her new film, her new booze, and much, much more.
With Love the Coopers, it seems like you’re doing a lot more family-oriented films these days. Why is that?
I’m always interested in family dynamics. Like you, I have a family, and they mean everything to me. As time goes on, it has more significance than ever. And I think about it more. I think about my sisters and my brother. My mother and father are not with me, and obviously my grandparents are way gone, but I have two kids—even though they’re not children anymore. It means a lot. I’m not married, so my situation is not the same as everybody else’s, but I’m so over that.
But why this movie?
I loved what the film said about families, and Christmas. Because Christmas isn’t perfect, either. Our concept and our longing for it are deluded. And the fact that my character thinks that this gathering will automatically bring everyone together instead of dealing with their problems is interesting; she keeps a very positive outlook. I like her a lot.
You chose to have children a bit later in life. How did that change your mindset when it comes to family?
I was in analysis—I’m one of those people—so family was always on my mind. I was enormously close to my parents, and feel the loss of them profoundly, and it continues, and it grows—the loss factor. For me, it’s not new, it’s just the opportunity to be in these family movies for some reason changed because they came my way. I didn’t initiate it, they just started coming my way. Even with Woody’s Interiors way back, that was an interesting look at families—but more of a tragic family, kind of. I always like to be affiliated with them because they have a good heart, but they also present unflattering situations for every character involved, and I like that. The unflattering situations remind you how much you love people.
Your résumé of conquests is pretty damn impressive. Warren Beatty. Al Pacino. You’ve romanced some of the greatest screen stars ever.
[Laughs] I guess I have! Al Pacino just has the most beautiful face ever. The most beautiful, radiant face. I could stare at it for hours.
I must say, I’m very excited to try The Keaton. And Love the Coopers has a pretty fun cast. Were some cases of The Keaton cracked on set? You know, The Keaton wasn’t there yet, but it was on my mind! And I do have a glass of red wine with ice at night—you can be sure of that! But we watched the Academy Awards together in a hotel room, and I love being closer to the people that you’re working with—because for the most part, you do these movies and then you never see people again. Have I seen Michael Douglas? Maybe I’ll see him at some sort of event, but you don’t really make friends with them. But in this movie, we were snowed in a lot and spent some time together, so it had a real family feel.
Sell me on The Keaton. What am I in for? It’s a blend, you know? It’s a good blend. We collaborated with this guy Bruce Hunter, and that was fun. For me, it was really a lot of fun. And I personally insisted on the twist-off cap, because for me, I like to twist it off. We did a lot of things that you don’t usually do, and it is The Keaton, and while it is great without the ice, for me, I love the ice. I’ve never known a lot about really, really fine wine; I just know good wine. And people look at me like I’m half nuts at these fancy gatherings that I have been invited to where they have a very expensive bottle. I always tell them, “Don’t give me that! It’s a waste on me.” I like mine with ice. It’s been a very good friend, wine with ice.
I imagine there was plenty of wine flowing on the set of The Godfather, no? Oh god, The Godfather was so long ago! I was like 23. I remember we were shooting it in Staten Island, and during that big wedding sequence, they did drink. Everyone drank real liquor. And at the time I wasn’t drinking at all, but it made that scene really work—let’s put it that way. All those guys really let loose.
First of all, it must be pretty cool to be a part of what many consider the greatest film of all-time. But what was it like to be on that set? There must have been a lot of testosterone there, and then just you and Talia Shire to balance it out.
For me, yeah, it was surreal. I still don’t exactly understand why I was cast in that part! I thought, “Wow, me?” When I would audition, they would frequently not cast me because I was too “nutty.” That’s what they’d tell me! They’d say, “You’re too nutty.” So when Francis [Ford Coppola] cast me, it was a surreal experience. I remember there was a lot of mooning on the set. A lot of mooning. And a lot of guy jokes.
Robert Duvall told me Jimmy Caan was the biggest cutup on that set.
Oh, yeah. Jimmy Caan was wild. But Brando was right up there with him! Brando you just idolized too. Everybody on that set idolized Brando. And he was worth idolizing because he was a genius. I remember watching him dance with Talia Shire, and I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget how great he was. He was a true genius actor. That’s rare.
I wanted to talk to you about the state of women in Hollywood too, because while it does seem like there have been some improvements…
…Can I just say something here? First of all, regarding acting and the possibilities of anybody getting work, when you compare it to 20 years ago, it’s so much better. There’s so much more availability in so many more venues, so there are more jobs. Am I wrong about that? Think about how many outlets we have for entertainment now with television having branched off to all these other networks, and then there’s whatever you see on your phone, with the YouTube and you name it. There’s a plethora of possibilities in comparison to when I was coming up. Back then, it was just the movies and some television shows.
It does seem, though, like women are being aged out of movies, and for most women of a certain age, the only meaty roles to be found are on TV.
Well, when you say “a certain age,” things are just going to wind down when you reach a certain age. Nobody’s saying, “God, I can’t wait to hire another woman age 65. This is really gonna sell!” That’s not going to happen, you know? Probably not—unfortunately, or fortunately, or however you want to think about it. Obviously there are certain roles that you can have, but you’re not going to play a young, leading woman.
But why do you think that has to be the case? Well, my question to you is: Is it worse now than it was then? Is it a worse situation for women now than it was then? That’s what my question is. It has to be better—and sure, it can always get better and better. Who doesn’t want that? I want that too. But when you compare it to what it once was, and the opportunities that were there 30 years ago, it’s not comparable. And when you compare it to the times of Bette Davis, it really wasn’t comparable. So I wish it was better.
But women are 51 percent of the population, so I still think they’re underrepresented. And I think the issue is that, in Hollywood, we need more women in charge of studios and behind the camera…
…But what is “Hollywood?” It isn’t really just Hollywood anymore. The entertainment industry is much broader now. I think we need to find a new word to describe the industry. It’s an antiquated term because it’s not just movies anymore. Movies aren’t what they once were—they’re not the reigning king of everything. It’s fascinating. We’re living in an amazing time.
You produced a film that was excellent and was, in many ways, pretty far ahead of its time, which was Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, from back in 2003. When you talk about all the school shootings in America, that film seems even more and more relevant today. There was the recent shooting in Oregon, and it just seems like every week there’s another mass shooting.
Nobody saw that! And the fact that you even know I produced that is amazing. Nobody’s mentioned that movie to me ever. The thing is, why not have it so that when people have to purchase a gun they have to go through a very, very extensive background check? I don’t understand why we can’t have that. To me, that doesn’t interfere with you buying your gun. It’s like, how long does it take me to get a driver’s license, and what steps do I have to take to get that driver’s license? You should have to go through the same amount of steps to get a gun.
You’ve spoken out against plastic surgery in years past, and Amy Schumer had a joke during her recent SNL monologue where she was describing the Kardashians as role models, and said, “A whole family of women that take the faces they were born with as a light suggestion? Is that great? No.”
[Laughs] But you know, it’s OK. On the other hand, does it matter what people want to do with their faces? I’m not really one of these people anymore who’s saying, “Don’t get your face done!” We all have to get through life, you know, and everyone has their way of doing it. I appreciate what she said, but I think it’s a personal choice. I mean, what are you going to say about Joan Rivers? She was great. And was always great.