It's a little surreal. Talking to Diane Keaton, as will the audience at her upcoming appearance for Brilliant Lecture Series on February 6, is a lot like walking onto the set of Annie Hall. It's almost as though one can see her leaning against the door at that New York athletic club, wearing her loose necktie and floppy hat, awkwardly fumbling with that tennis racket as she offers Woody Allen a lift in her garbage-filled Volkswagen Beetle.
But that is probably a lot safer than walking onto the set of Keaton's other signature screen role, in the equally sacred Godfather trilogy, which cable television still delights in presenting in perpetual, endless-loop marathons. In it, Keaton, of course, played Kay, Michael Corleone's wife, for a reported $35,000 in The Godfather's first installment. At the time, it was an offer she...well, you know the rest.
"I haven't seen that thing in, like, 25 years," Annie--oops--Diane la-di-da's. "How's it holding up?"
Oh, it's fair to say it's holding up reasonably well.
"Poor Kay," she continues. "That was a bad choice for her. She was in way over her head. She did it for love, but is that the kind of love you want in your life? I don't think so."
The star of more than 50 movies (eight of them with her mentor and ex-boyfriend, Woody Allen), this year Keaton adds two more to her lengthy filmography: And So It Goes, a Rob Reiner joint with Michael Douglas, and the working-titled Life Itself.
"Morgan Freeman is my husband!" Hall--uhhh--Keaton almost squeals. "The Michael Douglas movie is more, it's a little lighter. Yeah. It's a romance."
Keaton's is also among the voices in Finding Dory, a sequel to Pixar's animated blockbuster, Finding Nemo, scheduled for 2016.
And then her next book, Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty, a follow-up to her infatuating autobiography, Then Again, is due this spring.
"It's really a group of essays on beauty and, kind of, on the role of being a woman as we progress along in life," L'Oréal Paris cosmetics' elder spokeswoman says. "So, yeah.
"It's not easy," the 68-year-old, frequently described "eccentric" continues about time and its tendency to march on.
"But most of life has elements of not being easy--all periods. I think it is, though, so wonder-filled. This is the part of life where the wonder of being alive is much more prevalent, and much more amazing. It seems some things are just too astonishing."
You'd think, given all those movies and books and commercials, we'd know Annie Hall-damnit!--Diane Keaton pretty well by now.
Here are eight more things about her, in her own words, that may have escaped you:
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She lervs Houston. "My sister, Robin, used to live in Houston, for about a year. We're talking, way back...like, '89. I remember that it was the most bizarre city, because the architecture just seemed to be, like, wild! There were skyscrapers next to small, you know, I mean, I don't understand. I mean, like wow! What a place! What a place this is! You know, seriously, it's just an amazing visual display. Yeah, it was like, I couldn't figure it out! It was just so wild!"
'Eccentric?' I know you are, but what am I? "I have a friend, a lifelong friend, and here's what she said about me: 'Unique, unique, unique, unique, unique, unique.' Yeah, okay, if you want to call it eccentric, that's one way of saying it. You can say unique, too. You know, it's all under the same umbrella. Slightly unusual. Neurotic. I don't know. I mean, I think everybody's neurotic, more or less. I mean, fine! Okay! I'm unique! I'm an eccentric! And so are you. So is anybody. They're unique, they're eccentric. They're different--every one of us. I mean, that's what's so amazing."
Filming The Godfather was largely a blur. "The first Godfather? I was so terrified, I don't remember experiencing it. I felt like it was too overwhelming for me, I didn't know what was going on. I was surrounded by these giant male actors who were just--there was too much! I don't even know how I got through it....I was in way over my head. You know, I was 23. I didn't know, as I refer to it, if I was coming or going. I don't even know how I got the part. I don't know why I got the part. I'll never understand it. I would not have cast me. But there I was."
Woody Allen is a workaholic who thought Annie Hall was a sit-com that should have been titled Anhedonia. "With Annie Hall, it was very different. I was like five years older (than during The Godfather shoot.) Six, maybe. And I knew Woody well, I knew him well. You know, we had conversations. I was comfortable with Woody. So this idea, I just loved it. I just thought it was great. And I remember him thinking, 'Yeah, but are you sure it's not like a sit-com?' And I said, 'No! It's not a sit-com. It's fantastic! It's just wonderful!'
"Anhedonia (the inability to experience pleasure) was the original title. He changed it when he put the movie together, because he saw that the movie wasn't about what the title implied. It was more about this woman. Yeah. Isn't that interesting?
"Of all the people I've ever known, Woody Allen is a person who is addicted to work.... That is his whole way of living. Talk about an eccentric. Well, I love him. You know? I love him."
The face of those L'Oreal commercials is also a face that battles skin cancer. "You know, look, I was, first of all, when I was like 21, my dad always had skin cancer. So I've always had skin cancer. All we did when we were kids, my family, was go out on our surfboards and go to the beach and try to get a suntan.
"I've had a lot, a lot, a lot of skin cancers. So I just have to say that everybody has to be careful about the sun. Because really, it's serious. It's very serious. You've got to take it seriously. My regimen now really requires constant sun block, constant care, constantly going to skin doctors. I have to watch out for every little thing that happens on my face, and get zapped. That takes up a lot of my time. So that's what it is: Everybody has to take care of their face in the sun. I'm not saying go away from the sun. But protect yourself."
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Nature talks to her. "It's a crazy time, weather-wise, isn't it? I do not understand. I do not understand. Here (in California, where she lives) we have a drought, and we're due for a nice, big earthquake. The weather--nature is taking over. It's saying, 'You guys, you've got to be careful! Like you got to take care of your skin!'"
"Mature" nude scenes are just dandy (like in 2003's Something Gotta Give, included in Houston Press' 'Top 10 Ten Nude Scenes' in 2011.) "I view my body very differently now than when I was young. I mean, when I was young, it was a hidden thing. But if it's in the service of something that I'm interested in, in the story that I want to tell, I'm going to do it! You know, who cares?! At this point, it's not like it's any great prize. But yeah! Why not?"
The Oscars (she's won one) are good. The Golden Globes (she's won two) are better. "The Golden Globes are so much fun. They're TV and movies...so that means you've got at least 100 stars in one ballroom, and it's really fun. And you can drink! You can drink at the table, and that makes it a lot more fun. The Academy Awards is more austere...you really only come to it if you're presenting, or nominated. It's not a big party, where the community gathers together. They gather together more at the Golden Globes. And the drinking!"
Sponsored by Tennebaum & Co. Classic Jewelers, Brilliant Lecture Series presents a conversation with Diane Keaton. Thursday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m. in Wortham Center's Brown Theater. For information call 832-487-7041 or visit brilliantlectures.org. $75 to $200. For tickets to the VIP reception ($200) or benefit dinner ($500), call 713-974-1335.