Diane Keaton Talks About "Something's Gotta Give"

Something's Gotta Give star Diane Keaton
Diane Keaton stars in the romantic comedy, "Something's Gotta Give.". Columbia Pictures

Academy Award-winning actress Diane Keaton is garnering critical acclaim for her performance in the romantic comedy “Something’s Gotta Give,” co-starring Jack Nicholson and written/directed by Nancy Meyers.

Diane Keaton plays a mature mother who finds herself nursing perennial bachelor Harry Sanborn (Nicholson) back to health after he experiences heart problems while on a romantic getaway with her daughter (played by Amanda Peet).

Harry normally goes for younger women but soon finds himself strangely attracted to someone closer to his own age. Keaton’s character also works her magic on a younger doctor (Keanu Reeves), placing her smack dab in the middle of a complicated love triangle.


Do you understand the appeal of dating a younger man and would you go there? Could you go there?
I once went there but I have to say it was a kind of a strange thing for me. I didn’t really like it very much and I don’t think he liked it either. It was too odd. It was sort of like, “Yeah… No…”

Was that a societal thing?
No, I don’t think it is. I don’t think societal. There is that aspect to it, of course. You are absolutely right. But I think just even the intimacy of it and the fact that there’s so much that you can’t really share with each other in some way – the experiences that you’ve been through that they can’t really understand because they’re not there.

You know, you’re separated by so many things. It isn’t also just age but the kind of work you do. If you’re successful, you’re separated by that, which is an odd thing. It feels weird, but it’s true. So it wasn’t for me.

Is that a 'been there-done that' type of thing for you?
Yes, sort of. It’s sort of interesting when you put it that way because you think “Been there, done that.

Oh dear.” Yes.

How delicate a balance is it to be funny in a scene where your character doesn’t know she’s being funny?
It’s a strange balancing act and I don’t really know why. But it’s like Nancy’s [Meyers] former husband, Charles Shyer, said to me on “Baby Boom.” I was kissing Sam Shepard and he said, “Diane, it’s a comedy.” That was the direction, “It’s a comedy.” I was taking it too seriously; it’s just tonal. It’s a delicate little line. You sort of go, “Oh, it’s a comedy.” And you could lighten it up in a way, but it’s still real. I don’t know how or why some people know how to do it, but they do. They kind of have the knack for it. I think that because it’s what I have done all my life, I kind of get it.

You and Jack Nicholson have great onscreen chemistry. Can you talk about what it was like to shoot that love scene with him?
Well you know, working with Jack is sort of like standing in front of the Grand Canyon. I don’t know, there’s too much going on there and you’re just this little speck on a precipice. He’s like this huge, massive kind of structure. He’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World. That’s the way it feels. It feels like that because I think there’s something about the way Jack uses language.

It’s like he’s a master of the word, and the love of the word. A kiss is like you put the words away and you’re just standing there and you’re just sort of, “Oh, it’s just you and me and we’re really going to just experience this without saying anything.” It’s just beautiful. I loved it and I wish that I could do it again because it’s like you just carry that with you. It was kind of a form of heaven.

Is he a good kisser?
Yes, I love kissing him. I didn’t mind doing a lot of takes and Nancy always likes to do a lot of takes. I didn’t have to say anything. I just had to show up and expect a lot of kissing (laughing).

You and Jack Nicholson have known each other for a long time, haven’t you?
I think we’ve been separated by time and experience. That is like a huge chasm. I think that Jack went on to become even more of a legendary actor and I went on to go up and down and up and down.

I think that what’s been interesting is that that’s changed him in the sense that he’s had to carry this mantle of greatness around with him, which is a huge overwhelming responsibility because every part, the demand to be great is on your shoulders. I don’t even care, I know that this is rare and I’m just going to go out there and do it. Nobody’s thinking about, “Oh gee, you’ve been doing this a lot. You’ve been great and you’ve been nominated for an Academy Award.” Well, how many times has he been nominated? 12, 13? It’s like I don’t have to worry about that so much. I think he is very graceful about that. I think that he respects the art of acting and the art of film. He’s a great representative for all of us actors. That’s what I think. I was just happy to be around.

PAGE 2: Nude Scenes, Kissing Keanu, and Celebrating Mature Women

Additional “Something’s Gotta Give” Cast Interviews:
Jack Nicholson and Keanu Reeves

Was there ever a question of you doing the nude scene?
Never a question. I knew that I had to. You read the script, you realize you have to.

Did you do anything to get ready for that? Anything special to get in shape?
No, I did nothing. I thought, “It’s going to be a woman’s body and that’s the way it is.” It’s okay, it’ll do.

Can you talk about that scene in terms of its celebration of older women?
I think that that was Nancy’s intention, and God bless her.

I’m just thrilled she picked me to be the representative. I’m going to be the spokesperson now, huh? I’m going to try.

When you saw the completed picture, how did it compare to your expectations?
I think we had high expectations because Nancy was a big taskmaster. She really wanted a lot from us. She demanded a lot emotionally from both of us. She was a very meticulous, detailed director in that Nancy was very precise about the words. I’m a big slob so I was constantly being reminded that that wasn’t the actual way it was written.

I think that I didn’t really know. I just trusted Nancy’s expertise about a movie that was so close to her heart. You can never forget that. This is Nancy’s baby, her professional baby, and it meant a lot to her. I was buoyed by Nancy’s confidence and also be her hawk-like eye on everything that had anything to do with the movie.

You do so much with acting, producing, directing, photography. Was there a point where you said that getting a part in the next movie isn’t everything?
I had to ask myself that because I’ve had so many dips.

I had to adjust myself to that, which I think had been really kind of a godsend in a weird way. I wouldn’t wish it on myself again, but it happens all the time. I think it just forces you to look out toward other things that are not so self-directed. Do you know what I mean? That’s kind of fun. It permits adventure.

It gives you an opportunity to explore other means of expressing yourself.

Are you a different actor because you’ve been a director?
No. I think the two are two separate worlds. My feeling about being an actress is that the responsibility of telling the story, once you go to shoot, is not mine. My job is to do my job. I don’t like to direct and protect myself when we’re shooting. I like to just do my job and that’s it. But when you’re directing, it’s the exact opposite, obviously. As a director, I feel like my job is with the actors, because that’s the most important aspect of the films that I’ve directed is working with the actors, which is also the most dangerous aspect because I’m terrified of actors, knowing full well that if they get too much control, they can wreck your intentions. I always like to just let them find their way and listen, and be a great audience, which I learned from watching Woody direct actors actually. Also Nancy is somebody who is a great audience. She’s more of a specific audience with her words. Woody just wants to throw the words away. He doesn’t find anything that he writes particularly precious. He’d always say to me, “Loosen up the sentence. Mess it up, stop it.

It doesn’t sound like a normal person talking. You sound like you’re saying the words.” Whereas Nancy also approaches it from a realistic way, but she also wants those words, her words. You’re dancing around it a lot.

You joked about becoming the poster woman for older women. What is it about finding love later in life that makes it so enriching?
I think the fact that you’re up against the wall. You don’t have the time that you once had. So if you’re here, right about where I am, the fact that you fall in love is so sweet. It couldn’t be like more heavenly because you know that it can’t last. When you’re a kid you live under the illusion, which is the delusion that it will last forever. And of course it frequently doesn’t.

You also got to kiss Keanu Reeves in this movie. Is that like another day at the office for you?
No, it’s not another day at the office.

I realize that this is probably going to be my last go-round. I’m enjoying every second of it, okay? Every single second of it.

Do you have to work up to that?
You know you bring that up and I think that was one of my preparations for the movie, the realization that this was never going to happen again, so who cares? I’m going to just go for it (laughing). I’m going to just like all of it. I’m just going to enjoy every aspect of the kissing and the hugging and the yelling and screaming and being in love because I know it’s not coming my way again. I don’t think so, do you? I doubt it.

Additional “Something’s Gotta Give” Cast Interviews:
Jack Nicholson and Keanu Reeves