Clambering onto the stage at Zurich’s Corso Cinema to a rousing reception, and wearing a typically idiosyncratic ensemble (trilby, houndstooth blazer and leather skirt with white socks and precarious black heels), Keaton charmed the Swiss crowd, breaking into a breathy rendition of ‘Seems Like Old Times’ and brandishing her trademark goofy humour. Naming Ryan Gosling as the actor she’d most like to work with (“He can’t wait to have a love scene with me”), she also heaped praise on her “age-appropriate” co-star Michael Douglas in Rob Reiner’s “And So It Goes”, which screened after Keaton accepted her award.
“As far as our [screen] kiss goes,” said Keaton, “it worked really well for me. The older I get the more I enjoy the kisses because I realize in my own personal life that’s probably not going to happen. I told Rob Reiner he needed to do a lot of takes.”
Earlier in the day, I moderated a press conference with Keaton in which she was equally engaging and funny, kicking off with a gushing eulogy to Zurich, which she’d never visited before (the actress doesn’t travel much due to a fear of flying): “I’ve never seen a city more historically preserved; just architecturally, it’s stunning here and not a lot of cars! It’s so hard for me to wrap my brain around that.”
Keaton stayed gracious throughout the press conference in the face of some slightly inane questioning about facelifts, Hollywood friendships (“Are there any real ones?”) and did she really believe “it’s possible to be in love at any age”.
“I do, not necessarily for me, but yes,” replied the actress, who’s written candidly about her high-profile romances with Woody Allen, Al Pacino and Warren Beatty in two memoirs. “Easy. Next!” Keaton discussed her obsession with Pinterest and revealed that her teenage daughter has turned her into a huge Rihanna fan; she also disclosed that, while she remains proud of the first feature she directed, 1995’s “Unstrung Heroes”, she’s disappointed in the second, 2000’s “Hanging Up”, which she admits killed her Hollywood directing career stone dead.
“I didn’t really pull it off,” she said. “When you have a failure like ‘Hanging Up,’ people aren’t going, ‘Gee, can you direct my movie?’ So I haven’t had many other opportunities to direct again. But I’d like to.”
When asked how she prefers her directors to be, she said, “Obviously I like the ones that give me more freedom but that doesn’t mean that’s better for the movie. I really admire directors who have a great visual sensibility… I would really like to work with somebody like David Fincher once in my life.” Does that mean she’s prepared to do 75 takes? “Yeah, I’m ready. I did it with Warren Beatty; I can do it again. I’m ready for 75 takes.”
Keaton no longer makes movies that all critics love; “Something’s Gotta Give”, in 2003, is the last of her starring vehicles to earn anything like healthy critical praise and box office. But the fact that she works regularly, often and opposite the likes of Robert De Niro (“The Big Wedding”), Morgan Freeman (“Ruth & Alex”) and Douglas is a victory in itself for the older female movie star.
“I think now that there’s more independent movies and people don’t make such huge amounts of money, you have more opportunity to be in more movies,” observed Keaton. “That’s the way it seems to me. I’m enjoying these years.”
Asked to reflect back on her career in a subsequent round-table interview, Keaton called Woody Allen “the teacher of my life” and was self-deprecating about some of her dramatic efforts. When it was suggested that her fine work in tougher films like “Looking For Mr. Goodbar”, “Interiors” and “Mrs. Soffel” often gets overlooked in discussions about her career, she turned surprisingly dismissive.
“Yeah, everyone forgets about them because they’re forgettable,” she scoffed. “”Mrs. Soffel” was a lovely movie but it was not a movie that anyone went to see. No one ever mentions it when they come up to me. Or how about “The Good Mother”? Liam Neeson had one of his first lead roles playing my younger boyfriend and he was good. But the movie? What can I say. Nobody knows it because it wasn’t good.”
There’s one title Keaton agrees does hold up (and, in our opinion, contains the strongest performance of her career): the aformentioned Beatty film, his 1981 romantic-historical epic “Reds”. “It’s a little too long though, right?” she said. “Warren worked so hard on that movie. And I agree with you: it had great things in it. I really like the acting in that movie.”