Diane Keaton, the septuagenarian who’s amassed generations of fans in her almost 60 years of acting, is the master of many things on screen.
Off screen however, the Hollywood “it girl” was a “master at hiding,” dark secrets kept by a young woman that she now admits are “creepy.”
One of Hollywood’s most accomplished leading ladies, the LA-born Diane Keaton, 77, is an icon with a career that spans almost six decades.
She started her career on stage in 1968, as an understudy to a lead character in the hippie-musical Hair, where she was discovered by Woody Allen, who then cast her as his love interest in the Broadway production, Play it Again, Sam (1969).
Her portrayal of Linda Christie, which she reprised in the 1972 film adaptation of the same name, earned the then 23-year-old her first and only Tony nomination.
Mirroring the brief stage affair her character shared with Woody Allen’s, her real-life relationship with Allen lasted only a couple of years, although they worked together on several films over the next couple of decades.
After a few minor appearances in a film, TV series and commercials, the award-winning actor then had her breakthrough role in The Godfather.
Keaton’s profile as an actor raised exponentially in her role as the girlfriend, later the wife, of Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), in the Oscar-winning film with unequaled financial and critical success.
In 1974, she reprised her role in The Godfather Part II, as the alienated wife to the boss of a criminal empire, again played by Pacino, whom she was in an on and off again relationship.
“I was mad for him. Charming, hilarious, a nonstop talker,” Keaton tells People, admitting she had a crush on Pacino before they started dating. “There was an aspect of him that was like a lost orphan, like this kind of crazy idiot savant. And oh, gorgeous!”
It was her reunion with Allen in Annie Hall (1977) that earned that earned her an Academy Award and Golden Globe.
Keaton appeared in many box-office hits like Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Manhattan and 1981’s Reds, with Warren Beatty, her co-star and director, whom she fell for hard. “The first time I saw Warren was in Splendor in the Grass (1961). I mean, come on! He was, I mean, to die for. A Dream. I mean, Bonnie and Clyde? Come on,” she said in an interview with Variety. “And not only was he beautiful, gorgeous and sexy and captivating and mysterious and a great movie star but he was also an unbelievable producer and director, or is rather, is also an unbelievable director and producer. All of this is just so unique.”
Expanding her portfolio of work as she matured, the Baby Boom star then appeared as the mother in Father of the Bride (1991) with Steve Martin, Manhattan Murder Mystery–her first with Allen since Annie Hall–and in 2000 she played in The Godfather Part III as the divorced wife of the mafia boss.
In 2003, she starred in 2003’s Something’s Gotta Give, where her comedic prowess was recognized by the Academy with a nomination, and the film would be her first box office hit since 1996’s First Wives Club, with Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn.
A consummate professional, her co-stars rave about her performances. “She’s nothing if not fascinating, and working with her, she’s very unpredictable, which I like,” said Jack Nicholson, who co-starred with Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give. “She’s very disciplined about it all. She approaches a script sort of like a play in that she has the entire script memorized before you start doing the movie, which I don’t know any other actors doing that.”
Unlike her character in the film, who falls in love with much the older boyfriend (Nicholson) of her daughter, Keaton was quite fond of her much younger co-star, Keanu Reeves.
Recalling her on-screen kisses with Reeves, who’s 20 years younger than her, Keaton told the Sydney Morning Herald, “It was pretty embarrassing, and for Keanu, too. It has to do with time of life. It’s instinctive, (while kissing him) you go, ‘Uh, probably not!’” The charming actor continued, “And Keanu was going, ‘Definitely not!’ He was trying to be polite. But he’s so beautiful, it’s stupefying. It was a guilty pleasure. A very guilty pleasure.”
Neither actor has confirmed rumors that they were romantically involved off screen.
Leading with an abundance of humility, Keaton is an advocate of natural aging, and proud of her silvery mane, along with her appearance as a woman in her late 70s.
“I tell myself I’m free to do whatever the hell I want with my body. Why not? I may be a caricature of my former self; I’m still wearing wide-belted plaid coats, horn-rimmed glasses, and turtlenecks in the summertime. So what? Nobody cares but me,” she said in an interview with the Daily Beast. “I don’t see anything wrong with face-lifts or Botox or fillers. They just erase the hidden battle scars. I intend to wear mine, sort of.”
Though actor, author, director and singer is one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, she is not immune to unsolicited judgements from the public.
In 2014, after she appeared at the Golden Globes, an online user targeted her with a Tweet that says, “Wow. Diane Keaton got fat.”
Recently, without any apparent provocation, another critic said, “Well Diane Keaton isn’t nice, she ugly inside and out!”
What needs to be understood is that the gorgeous star–with an enviable slim physique–is in recovery for a toxic relationship she has with food.
Appearing on the Dr. Oz Show, Keaton revealed, “It was horrible. It was, of course, the lowest point of my life…I was a fat person, I was an obese person, who had somehow tricked myself and managed to hide it. So when you’re living with a lie for four years…” Explaining her battle with bulimia, she continued, “All I did was feed my hunger, so I am an addict. It’s true. I’m an addict in recovery, I’ll always be an addict. I have an addictive nature to me.”
Her insecurities were triggered at the very start of her career when she was teased with the lead in Hair, in exchange for her losing 10 pounds. The production also offered an extra $50 to the actors willing to strip down at the end of Act 1. Keaton refused.
To deal with the pressures, she ate, a lot. And then she threw up, emptying her stomach of everything she consumed.
Every dinner she would have 20,000 calories in the form of “a bucket of fried chicken, several orders of fries with blue cheese and ketchup, a couple of TV dinners, a quart of soda, pounds of candy, a whole cake, and three banana cream pies.”
Recognizing she had a problem, she met with a therapist five times a week over a year, to overcome the binge eating disorder.
“Now it’s (addiction) work orientated or trying to raise my children as best I can, even though they’re…not really children anymore,” said Keaton, of her adopted children.
Roasting his multi-talented friend at the 2017 American Film Awards gala, where Keaton was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award, Woody Allen joked about her eating disorder, that she hid from him while they were dating.
“I didn’t know many things until I read her books,” Allen joked. “I didn’t know she was bulimic… I would be taking her to these high-end restaurants. $400 for dinner. If I knew she was throwing them up, I could have taken her to Pizza Hut.”
Though Keaton was among the star-studded crowd that erupted into laughter, her bulimia was very serious to her.
Insisting that she didn’t lose the weight to meet the demands of the Hair producers, Keaton said she continued to keep the weight off and “became a master at hiding. Hiding any evidence–how do you make sure no one knows? You live a lifestyle that is very strange. You’re living a lie.”
She adds, “People were nice enough, but I felt like an outsider,” she says. “I had a problem–it was sick and creepy. Bulimia takes a lot of time out of your day.”
Rom-com royalty, the star, who’s never been married, revels in motherhood. Keaton has one daughter, Dexter Keaton White, 27, and a son, Duke Keaton, 23, both whom she adopted when she in her 50s.
I didn’t think that I was ever going to be prepared to be a mother. Motherhood was not an urge I couldn’t resist, (and) it was more like a thought I’d been thinking for a very long time. So I plunged in,” she said.
And to balance her hectic filming schedule, Keaton lives in a self-constructed nirvana, a farmhouse-style brick mansion that she designed and built. The home, inspired by her obsession with Pinterest, and her affinity to the “Three Little Pigs,” Keaton describes the thought and building process behind her rustic-chic home in her book, “The House that Pinterest Built.”
According to est, an architectural design magazine, Keaton’s home is a “fireproof, earth resistant, water resistant, walled-in compound,” and “built of 75,000 handpicked clay bricks.” “The actress recalls being read the “Three Little Pigs” and at age five, knew she was going to live in a brick house ‘when she grew up,’” the magazine reports. “While there’s many of us who can relate to pouring over Pinterest, there’s not a lot who can say their entire home was assembled by a collection of its image. But then again–we’re not Diane Keaton…This unique detail is a rare feat–and certainly hard to beat.”
Actor, singer, author, director, mother and designer are all things that the lovely Diane Keaton has included in her ever-growing portfolio of talents.
She really is an amazing human and we really appreciate her openness in discussing her eating disorder. The mirror can be our worst critic and we wish Keaton the very best in her continued journey!
What are you favorite Diane Keaton films?