Diane Keaton - Actors and Actresses

Nationality: American. Born: Diane Hall in Los Angeles, California, 5 January 1946. Education: Attended Santa Ana High School, California; Santa Ana College and Orange Coast College; studied acting with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse, New York. Family: Adopted daughter, Dexter. Career: 1967—acted in Woodstock summer theater, New York; 1968—Broadway debut in Hair ; later stage roles in Play It Again, Sam with Woody Allen, 1969, and The Primary English Class , 1976; 1970—film debut in Lovers and Other Strangers ; also a singer: engagements at Reno Sweeney, New York, and other clubs and theaters; 1980—book of photographs published; 1987—directed first feature, Heaven ; 1990—directed music video for Belinda Carlisle; directed episode of Twin Peaks for TV; directed TV After School Special, "The Girl with the Crazy Brother." Awards: Oscar for Best Actress, Best Actress, British Academy, and Best Actress, New York Film Critics, for Annie Hall , 1977. Agent: Stan Kamen, William Morris Agency, 151 El Camino Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A.

Films as Actress:


Lovers and Other Strangers (Cy Howard) (as Joan Vecchio)


The Godfather (Coppola) (as Kay Adams); Play It Again, Sam ( Aspirins for Three ) (Ross) (as Linda Christie)


Sleeper (Woody Allen) (as Luna Schlosser)


The Godfather Part II (Coppola) (as Kay Adams)


Love and Death (Woody Allen) (as Sonja)


I Will I Will . . . for Now (Panama) (as Katie Bingham); Harry and Walter Go to New York (Rydell) (as Lissa Chestnut)


Looking for Mr. Goodbar (Richard Brooks) (as Theresa Dunn); Annie Hall (Woody Allen) (title role)


Interiors (Woody Allen) (as Renata)


Manhattan (Woody Allen) (as Mary Wilke)


Reds (Beatty) (as Louise Bryant)


Shoot the Moon (Parker) (as Faith Dunlap)


The Little Drummer Girl (Hill) (as Charlie); Mrs. Soffel ( Dear Hearts ) (Armstrong) (title role)


Crimes of the Heart (Beresford) (as Lenny)


Radio Days (Woody Allen) (as New Year's singer); Baby Boom (Shyer) (as J. C. Wiatt)


The Good Mother (Nimoy) (as Anna Dunlap)


The Godfather, Part III (Coppola) (as Kay Adams)


Success (Hunter); Father of the Bride (Shyer) (as Nina Banks)


Running Mates ( Dirty Tricks ) (Lindsay-Hogg—for TV) (as Aggie Snow)


Look Who's Talking Now (Ropelewski) (as voice of Daphne); Manhattan Murder Mystery (Woody Allen) (as Carol Lipton)


Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight (Simoneau—for TV) (title role)


Father of the Bride, Part II (Shyer) (as Nina Banks)


The First Wives Club (P. J. Hogan); Marvin's Room (Zaks)


Northern Lights (Yellen—for TV) (as Roberta)


The Only Thrill (Masterson) (as Carol Fritzsimmons)

Diane Keaton with Warren Beatty in Reds
Diane Keaton with Warren Beatty in Reds


The Other Sister (Marshall) (as Elizabeth Tate)


Town and Country (Chelsom)

Films as Director:


What Does Dorrie Want? (doc)


Heaven (doc) (+ sc)


Secret Society (+ ro); Wildflower (for TV)


Unstrung Heroes


Mother's Helper


Hanging Up (+ ro as Georgia)

Films as Producer:


The Lemon Sisters (Chopra) (+ro as Eloise Hamer)


Northern Lights (Yellen—for TV) (+ro as Roberta)


Oh What a Time It Was (TV mini)


By KEATON: books—

Reservations , New York, 1980.

Still Life , edited with Marvin Heiferman, New York, 1983.

Mr. Salesman: A Book (editor), Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1993.

By KEATON: articles—

"Heaven," interview with M. Glicksman, in Film Comment (New York), March/April 1987.

"Hard Sell," in New York Times , 7 November 1993.

"Plane Speaking," interview with Benjamin Svetkey, in Entertainment Weekly , 10 June 1994.

"Annie Hall Doesn't Live Here Anymore," interview with Nancy Collins, in Vanity Fair (New York), November 1995.

"Separate Wives," interview with J. Bernstein, in Premier, September 1996.

On KEATON: book—

Moor, Jonathan, Diane Keaton: The Story of the Real Annie Hall , New York, 1989.

On KEATON: articles—

Monaco, James, "Looking for Diane Keaton," in Take One (Montreal), November 1977.

Current Biography 1978 , New York, 1978.

Cowie, Peter, "Diane Keaton and Looking for Mr. Goodbar ," in Focus on Film (London), no. 29, 1978.

Reed, Rex, "Diane Keaton," in The Movie Star , edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.

Revue de Cinéma/Image et Son (Paris), January 1983.

Hibbin, S., "Diane Keaton," in Films and Filming (London), May 1985.

Ferguson, K., "Woody, Mia and Diane," in Film Monthly , July 1990.

Krohn, B., "Diane Keaton," in Cahiers du Cinema (Paris), December 1992.

Dowd, M., "Diane and Woody, Still a Fun Couple," in New York Times , 15 August 1993.

Greenberg, James, "Not at All Unstrung, and Calling the Shots," in New York Times , 3 September 1995.

Chang, Y., "A Light Touch with Tough Stuff," in Newsweek , 25 September 1995.

Dupagne, M., "Les liens du souvenir," in Grand Angle , February 1996.

* * *

Diane Keaton gained attention in Woody Allen's early comedies in which her sidekick's awkwardness serves as character. She is not a professional ingenue but does not seem amateurish; in Play It Again, Sam , Sleeper , and Love and Death she wins us with her game responsiveness to Allen's leads. With Annie Hall her freshness became an original style. She gets laughs from the play of half-thoughts and second-thoughts that do not quite keep Annie from developing the confidence to act on her impulses. Keaton's career after Annie Hall has been an exploration of experience by women who either have not had the chance to develop their instincts ( Mrs. Soffel , Crimes of the Heart , The Good Mother ), or have not shaped an attitude toward life that can handle what life sends them ( Interiors , Manhattan , Reds , Shoot the Moon , The Little Drummer Girl ). Keaton's gift is to discover her characters on camera; in the comedies there is dew in the air of her performance, and in the dramas the real pain of confusion, and sometimes both in the same movie.

Allen finally freed Keaton from her dependence on him by casting her as a Bergmanesque poet repelled by human involvement in Interiors . Playing Renata with the same hesitations and emotional elusiveness as her comic roles, she became a star with as identifiable a manner as Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn. Unfortunately, she broke through when character acting achieved critical ascendancy. Thus while Meryl Streep garnered praise for much more deliberately and narrowly conceived performances, Keaton breathtakingly explored her star persona. Streep is famous for working by externals. Keaton, making her debut in 1970, helped reinvent movie naturalism in a freer, more explicit era; there is a feeling of transition, both internal and external, in her best performances.

Of course, even her fans see that in underwritten roles, such as Louise Bryant in Reds and Amelia Earhart in a 1994 television movie (a debunking of the aviatrix as her husband-promoter's media creation), Keaton's distinctive manner is too much up front. If we do not know what makes her character disconcerted and edgy she can grate. And in as thinly conceived a comedy as The Lemon Sisters Keaton courts and weds preciousness (her failing as a director, both in the documentary Heaven and the comic family drama Unstrung Heroes ). This is the downside of being one of the least ingratiating of stars. The upside is that when she is likable, she is likable in character, and she is fearless about being many things besides likable. As Faith in Alan Parker's Shoot the Moon , opposite Albert Finney as the writer-husband she throws out when she discovers he is having an affair, Keaton is a bitter, adamant antagonist to the helpless George, even though battling weighs her down. No actress has outdone Keaton at the comedy-drama of divided feelings. On a date, Peter Weller asks if he can kiss her, and she fumbles, "No . . . I mean, yes." Keaton, one of the first actresses of the counterculture generation to become a star, plays out the confusions of women trained in vanishing conventions. Faith, a mother of four with a living husband, "should not" be dating, but she should know whether she wants to be kissed. Annie Hall's charming diffidence becomes Faith's desolation, both pervasive and remote, while at the same time Keaton displays new comic gusto in the restaurant scene when Faith and George's fight spills over to another table. As Faith, caught between lives, Keaton gave the greatest performance by an American actress since Hepburn in Long Day's Journey into Night combined unreachable pain with eccentric comic outbursts.

Since 1982 only Gillian Armstrong's period piece Mrs. Soffel , about a prison warden's wife who helps convict brothers escape, has been truly worthy of her. Keaton may be anachronistic, but she daringly probes the antisocial realms of female dissatisfaction with marriage and motherhood. Her other 1980s pictures are not major but she chose them intelligently for the roles they offered her. In The Little Drummer Girl she is an actress drafted into an antiterrorist plot. Charlie is an exaggeration of Keaton's traits as an actress, pushed to the edge by a supervolatile situation. When Charlie realizes the enormity of seducing and betraying a terrorist leader, she gropes for a division between acting and life; Keaton makes us feel the agony of dangling. In The Good Mother she suffers melodramatic punishment for a late awakening with a lover whose uninhibitedness around her daughter leads to a custody battle. Anna's discovery of carnality, without coyness or prurience, is amazingly vivid. When Anna loses her daughter Keaton despairingly weighs the merits of sexuality and motherhood in face of a culture that polarizes them.

Keaton brings her remarkable physicality to comedy as well, especially Baby Boom . J. C., a corporate shark, has the personality for big business but her nerve endings lack the competitive training that men's receive. She cannot keep her legs from shaking as she closes deals; the excitement is overwhelming—and infectious. Forced to care for an infant, J. C. moves to New England where she does not even have business into which she can channel her energy; in crises she is liable to fritz out completely and keel over. Keaton's pratfalls are no less funny for the fact that she keeps J. C.'s motivation clear. Slapstick performances by female leads are rare; this is among the best.

Keaton's subsequent career includes a return as Kay in the third Godfather , which never gives her material that engages her advanced skill; a funny reteaming with Woody Allen in Manhattan Murder Mystery ; and supporting roles in the Father of the Bride pictures, in which, practically reduced to pantomime, her reactions give these family comedies their only distinction. Keaton's recent work is not as triumphant as her 1980s movies, but she is adaptable, evergreen. She is always a good enough reason to see a movie.

—Alan Dale

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