At a perennially youthful 43, Diane Lane remains a luminous presence, on and off the screen. Now happily married to Josh Brolin with two teenage children from a previous marriage, the always versatile actress loves to show off various sides of her personality.
In Untraceable, Lane plays an FBI agent in charge of dealing with serious internet crimes whose most recent case involving a killer who murders his victims online, may prove deadlier than most. Lane also completed her third film opposite Richard Gere, which will open in September. Lane talked exclusively to Paul Fischer.
Question: So when I was watching Untraceable, I thought to myself, “You know, Diane must be having a great time making this.” I’m wondering whether or not that is part of the attraction of doing something like that?
Lane: Well, honestly, it is thrilling to do a thriller and it is fun to get the bad guys. It is actually comforting for me to have real living, breathing prototypes out there who do this line of work, although this extreme case is better in the movies than in real life, I would say. But, you know, I’m so grateful that there are employed angels out there intervening between people and harm, on the Internet. I’ve got to tell you, I’m so grateful that I didn’t realize the intensity of how much crime there is, and it needs to be stopped before it gets worse on the Internet.
Question: How much research did you find yourself doing on either the FBI or this whole notion of Internet crime?
Lane: Well, I mean, it is an entire universe unto itself. It’s interesting because – you know, the youth of today, this is their entitlement, and this is their domain. They were born into it, and their comfort zone is so high. Also, I think they’re savvy and also perhaps they’re a little too comfortable. You know, as a parent, and the woman that I studied under who is in the FBI and does this full time, she’s a mother and she’s a classy dame who carries herself great. Anybody could do this line of work, really, because in essence, you have to be motivated to think about why somebody could do this, and care enough to intervene. But you can be a woman, you can be a man, you can be a kid, you can work behind the keyboard and the monitor, and take the time to outwit these clever, malicious people. Because it’s just shocking – I guess I’m really naïve and quite an innocent. I didn’t even know that viruses didn’t spontaneously occur like they do in Petri dishes, you know? I was like, “What do you mean, people spend the time to figure out how to basically commit arson on-line?”
Question: And you have a child, right?
Lane: Oh, yeah. I’ve got teenagers in my life.
Question: So did doing this film somehow make you much more aware now of how careful you have to be as a parent?
Lane: Absolutely. And I think – you know, the vigilance of expressing concern on our kids’ behalfs needs to never be taken for granted, you know?
Question: How physically tough was it to do this? I mean, without giving anything away you had some pretty tough stuff to do in those final scenes. Was it difficult?
Lane: Yeah. It was – well, let’s put it this way. You know it’s gonna be tough when they schedule it for the last three days of filming, because they want to make sure they’ve got everything else in case anything happens to you. You know, it’s fun to get down in the dirt, and actually hustle with the good-versus-evil element of the story and it would be, I think, a little disappointing to the genre, to not have hands on after all this cat and mouse leading up to it. So that was fun.
Question: Is it getting harder for you to find projects at this particular stage of your life that really ignite your passion?
Lane: Well, that’s a very endearing question. I mean, thank you. I don’t know. There’s two answers to it, really. I know there’s a fantastic myth that you can believe or you can disbelieve, either way, that there’s a dearth of roles of women over a certain age. And I’m delighted to have crossed the threshold into another stage of life where I can say it is a myth and I don’t believe it. Because I think, fortunately for a large chunk of the population, we can be represented. I mean, there are and there is enough interest in plenty of women interesting on screen after the age of 25, as it were. You know? I mean, no. I think – I think it’s becoming more and not less available.
Question: Do your priorities change, as a wife and mother?
Lane: Well, yes, they do. I mean, certainly the first question I ask is, “Where is it filming?” Because it’s hard to leave your family. And you can’t really put a monetary figure on the value of time spent with your kids, because you can’t get that time back. What can I say? I prefer to be home than to leave. And it gets harder and harder, and it’s more and more expensive, to me, emotionally. So this past year in ’07, I worked six months straight, from January third to the fourth of July weekend. And I negotiated heavily emotionally with my family, and I promised them that I wouldn’t do that ever again, number one. And that number two, you know, I want to be home. And I did it on the pre-pay program. You know? I worked hard, and now I’m planning on spending home. And really, when kids are in their teenage years it may not be as much fun, necessarily, to be home. But you’re needed more.
Question: I can’t believe that you’re the mother of teenagers.
Lane: Well, thank you. I guess that’s a compliment and I take it as such. But at the same time, it’s actually the most rewarding experience that I’ve ever had. It’s like mercury and fire. I mean, dealing with teenagers is – they’re a different person every day. And the hormones are kicking in, and all the pull of what everybody thinks about them matters so much. And it’s – it’s walking on a tightrope to just try to have their ear.
Question: You said you worked six months straight. So, what else have you been working on?
Lane: I did another film with Richard Gere. It’s the third and it’s called Nights in Rodanthe. And you know, there was this amazing pull for us to work together again. It’s come up several times and this just seemed to be the right project. So we were reunited, and very happily. And it’s very different from, obviously, other – the two other films we’ve made together. I mean, Cotton Club was so unique, and Unfaithful was its own animal. But it’s from the book of the same title, it’s a very tender movie and quite contrasted to this thriller genre that I just forayed into, on Untraceable.
Question: Who do you play in it?
Lane: Well, I mean, she’s a woman, mother of a teenager, hello and that works for me. But also, that’s more the back story. I think she’s at a crossroads in her marriage, and her husband wants to come back. And once you’ve made your peace about the fact that your marriage is over, when your spouse comes back and says, “You know what? I changed my mind. I’d like to come back, pretty please.” You just go through quite a roller coaster ride emotionally. And right at that moment, she meets this character played by Richard. And you know how you can know people briefly in your life, but they have a large impact on how you see your life ever more afterward? It’s that in a nutshell, as best as I can boil it down.
Question: And what else did you do?
Lane: Well, there’s a movie called Kill Shot which is going to come out, I think in April. And that was something pretty interesting, because I got to work with Mickey Rourke again and it was directed by John Madden, whom I adore. And he’s a wonderful filmmaker.
Question: I guess the writer’s striking is almost an advantage to you in some ways. At least it forces you to not take anything on.
Lane: You’re very clever. [LAUGHTER] Yes, I’m not a complainer this week, but – there’s plenty who are. And, you know, look. I lived in France, and I understand both sides of a strike. What can I say? I understand that money talks, and they won’t listen until it hurts. And it’s a shame that it takes that much to get the people who make the decisions financially in very, very large corporations to care about sharing in the process. You know?
Question: Do you think this is the happiest you’ve been in your professional and personal life in quite a long time?
Lane: Well, I would say absolutely. I mean, it’s nice to have diversity in my career, and it’s nice to be so in love with the man I’m married to. I mean, it just really doesn’t get better than that. And being Mrs. Brolin is a pretty flashy job right now. I love it, because he’s finally getting the credit that he deserves for his talent.