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Diane Keaton talks mom & dad, gratitude ahead of AFI honor

By SANDY COHENJune 6, 2017
FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2016, file photo, Diane Keaton attends the 2016 L'Oreal Women of Worth Awards in New York. Keaton will receive the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award on Thursday, June 8, 2017. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2016, file photo, Diane Keaton attends the 2016 L'Oreal Women of Worth Awards in New York. Keaton will receive the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award on Thursday, June 8, 2017. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When Diane Keaton accepts the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award this week, she’ll say it’s all because of her mom, dad and Woody Allen.

The Oscar-winning actress credits her parents with instilling her creativity and work ethic, and Allen’s “Annie Hall” with launching her career, which has spanned five decades and more than 80 films so far.

Beyond acting, Keaton is also a celebrated fashion icon (thanks to mom), architecture enthusiast (dad’s influence) and best-selling author who maintains active, artistic profiles on Instagram and other platforms. Her latest book on building and design, set for release in the fall, is called “The House that Pinterest Built.”

As Keaton prepares to receive the AFI award at a gala tribute in Hollywood on Thursday, the 71-year-old star talked with The Associated Press about her career, her parents and why she wants to take a cross-country road trip with her dog.

The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.


AP: You appeared at the AFI event when Steve Martin was honored in 2015. How does it feel to be on the receiving end of the accolades this time?

Keaton: More anxious, because it’s a lot of Diane. ... It’s kind of a surreal experience for me. I feel like it’s the wedding I never had, or the big gathering I never had, or the retirement party I never had, or all these things that I always avoided — the big bash. And looking back at your life, with an audience? Oh my goodness. So it’s huge for me. It’s really a big event for me and I’m really, deeply grateful.

AP: You’re definitely not retiring, with two movies in the works and a book coming out. How do you juggle your creative projects?

Keaton: I have so many things that I do every day. I’m always busy. Both my parents were very hardworking people. You know my mother, I wrote a book about basically my mother and our relationship. And she just loomed large because she was — I mean, I have volumes and volumes and volumes of her writing. She never stopped. ... So that’s what I think I got it all from. And my father, too! My father took an acting class at age 67! He was running for city council and he was an engineer; he had his own company. They really needed to work, they really needed to. I do, too. I think they were sensitive souls.

AP: Apart from bringing you an Oscar, how significant was Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” to your career?

Keaton: Without that, we wouldn’t be talking today. I wouldn’t have the honor of experiencing this. Of course that’s it. That’s the ticket, called “Annie Hall.” And he wrote it and he directed it and he starred in it and he produced it. It’s not possible! Hey, hi! It’s a man named Mr. Woody Allen who gave me my career. There’s no question. None.

AP: Where did your interest in architecture come from?

Keaton: My father, Jack Hall, he was a civil engineer, and one of our bonding things was going to open houses of tract houses in the ’50s. ... They were all dressed up and they had design and nice couches, and to me, that was like a fantasy come true, like the House of the Future at Disneyland. So I was always compelled by architecture visually. I just love buildings. I love looking at buildings. I love homes. I love style. I always did, and that’s because of him.

AP: Is that where your famous fashion sense comes from?

Keaton: Fashion was a huge link between my mother and I. We never really quite had a lot of money in the beginning, right? So we would go to the Goodwill and Salvation Army. We’d discover the thrift stores, my mother and I. We would buy some old fabric and we’d go and get some McCall’s pattern and then I would say, ‘This is the best one, mom. You make this.’ So she became my first assistant. I want her back!

AP: What’s the best thing about getting older?

Keaton: That you see differently. You see life in a totally different manner because you understand that there is an end to it more readily, which makes it more of a wonder-filled, kind of magical, inexplicable experience. ... I’m seriously thinking of going across country in America in my car with my dog (Emmie), because I’ve never seen anything like it. Recently I’ve been driving back and forth to Tucson in my car alone. For about eight hours I’m in the car, and what you see is so remarkable: the way the land changes, what happens, why the flowers are so beautiful more east of Tucson than west — things you never thought about when you were younger, because you had all this, ‘I’m going to do this with my life and it’s going to be like this and I’m going to do that.’ But it’s not like that anymore. It’s more wonder-filled.


Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy.

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