Oscar-winner Diane Keaton, 73, has enjoyed many memorable roles including Annie Hall, The Godfather trilogy and Something’s Gotta Give…but her latest role in senior living dramedy, POMS, really brought home the power of female friendship. Co-starring with a Who’s Who of 60+ talent, she quickly found sisterhood with Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier, Rhea Perlman and Celia Weston while filming in a real retirement community in Atlanta, perfecting their moves as a senior cheerleading squad.
When Senior Planet meets with Keaton in Beverly Hills, she’s dressed in her trademark monochrome – white caped coat, black turtleneck and black pants; black painted nails and matching fingerless gloves.
Q: How did you react to being offered this role of cheer group leader Martha?
DIANE: I thought: Oh good. Maybe I will have a job!
Q: What is your own history with cheerleading?
DIANE: I tried out in high school – but I didn’t make the team. So then I tried out for pom-pom girl and I didn’t make that either…I wasn’t excited about (finally learning to cheer) because it’s hard and I needed a lot of help. I didn’t catch on fast. I had extra time with the choreographers because I was the worst cheerleader in the group. I’m a slow learner.
Q: But you look in great shape during the cheer sequences…
DIANE: Oh come on! My legs are like toothpicks. They’re so hideous, there’s no muscle in there. They’re awful.
Q: You filmed in Sunrise senior living facility. Was that an eye-opener?
DIANE: I actually know them quite well because my brother, Randy [Hall] is in a Sunrise senior living facility which is a big US chain. He was also at the Belmont senior living facility in the valley. So I’m there every weekend visiting him and I see how they separate the people who are vital and healthy from people with illnesses.
Q: Do you like the senior living scene?
DIANE: Well there’s two sides. My brother is in the Alzheimer’s /Parkinsons wing for people who are really ill and then there’s the other side where its more about a community and its kinda great with lots of activities. They’re very social and you’re forced into doing things that maybe you wouldn’t previously have considered. So there’s a lot of pluses about those homes. How we chose to handle our old age is different for everyone.
Q: You dated several co-stars, including Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and Al Pacino, yet never married. Any regrets?
DIANE: Oh gosh no. I’m really glad I didn’t get married. I’m an oddball. I’ve always been happy being single. And then I adopted my two kids in my 50’s. They are my life and bring me so much joy.
Q: Which women inspire you?
DIANE: My co-star Jacki Weaver. I loved her before I even met her. I first watched her in Silver Linings Playbook and she was so great. I also admire Nancy Pelosi, she manages everything so well.
Q: Are there more roles out there today for older actresses?
DIANE: Yes, I think its changing for the better. The studios are slowly realizing that there’s a demographic out there who want these movies.
Q: Is there a lot of you in your POMS character of Martha?
DIANE: Yes, because that’s all I have. I think of myself as a performer rather than an actress; someone who adapts into a series of different roles. But I don’t think I have that skill-set. I don’t like having to repeat things which is why I usually avoid doing stage. I don’t want to get on stage night after night in front of an audience – I don’t want an audience!
Q: What message do you hope POMS audiences will take home?
DIANE: That its all about friendship – and we can discover new friends at any age. That’s both inspiring and empowering.
Q: What is the secret to aging with attitude?
DIANE: I think there is nothing but attitude in life. Does that ever go away? I think we already have our attitude by time we are older and hopefully we continue to hang on to it.