For more than 50 years, Diane Keaton has entertained audiences on screens big and small. She has picked up an Oscar along the way (“Annie Hall”) and three more nominations for best actress, but she worries more than once about sounding boring.
“This is really enlightening, isn't it, for all the people who are going to read it?” she jokes after answering a question about her new comedy, “Mack & Rita” (in theaters Friday). “They’re going to say, ‘And why did you have this interview?’ ”
Keaton plays the older version of 30-year-old struggling writer Mack (Elizabeth Lail), regrettably making her way as a social media influencer. When Mack undergoes a mystical physical transformation that allows her to appear the age she feels (70), Keaton poses as Mack’s Aunt Rita, becoming a celebrated online personality and attracting the attention of Mack’s neighbor Jack (Dustin Milligan, “Schitt’s Creek”). Being in a more mature woman’s body allows old soul Mack to boldly and confidently be her true self.
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Real life is not so picture-perfect. Getting older has not brought 76-year-old Keaton comfort.
“I don't find ease with age,” she says with a laugh. “So I'm not in that team, even though I played it, which made it seem like fun. But in reality, no.”
The passing time requires Keaton to be more mindful: “No. 1, you have to take care of your body to make you healthy. You've got to eat well, you've got to pay attention. Don't have too much coffee in the morning – which I'm addicted to, by the way. And that goes along with the pleasures of imbibing in drinks that are a little more lively.”
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There’s another concern for older actresses: diminishing parts. According to Women and Hollywood, an organization that advocates for gender equity in entertainment, just seven of last year’s 100 highest-grossing films featured an actress 45 or older. By comparison, 27 of those films featured a male actor in the same age group.
At 57, Keaton was referred to as “Granny Hall” in a 2003 Wall Street Journal article about Nancy Meyers’ later-in-life love story “Something’s Gotta Give.” The description makes Keaton laugh when mentioned.
“Listen, let's pounce on them,” she says playfully. “That’s absurd.”
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Given Hollywood's tendencies, Keaton knows how privileged she is to still be working.
“I'm the luckiest woman ever!” she says. “Other women my age are better than me as actresses. ... But just in general, it drifts away a little, because of course you aren't wanted as much, but you do want to be active and involved in your life.”
In June, Keaton was snapped in Rome filming the follow-up to the 2018 comedy "Book Club," which is centered on a foursome reading E L James’ titillating “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Keaton describes filming “Book Club 2: The Next Chapter,” which co-stars Candice Bergen (76), Jane Fonda (84) and Mary Steenburgen (69), as “really exciting. It was engaging – and with women of my age.”
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An on-screen flirtation with Milligan, 37, in "Mack & Rita" also proved a good time for Keaton. (Spoiler ahead!)
“He is a great guy,” Keaton says. “He's young. He's really wonderful, and it was really easy to kiss him.” She adds, "He's charming, and he's going to have a nice career.”
Keaton, memorably struck by Justin Bieber's looks during a 2015 appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," endorses a romance between an older woman and a younger man. But for her, personally, "it’s not something that's ever come up.”
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Mack & Rita' star Diane Keaton is 'luckiest woman' to be acting still