Diane Keaton’s most meta role in the film Book Club

Diane Keaton's most meta role in the film Book Club

I’ve been a bit ambivalent about this film, Book Club … it has favourite actresses Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen BUT in the trailer it all looks a little too cute and if I’m honest ….. American. Maybe that’s the point. This from Vanity Fair …. a bit of backstory. The film was written with Keaton and Fonda in mind and this is a tale about what Keaton bought to the role. Her most meta ( self aware) so far.

“She could sense that we wrote it for her. [And] she did walk in in the most badass three-piece suit. I just about fainted by the time I saw her,” said screenwriter Erin Simms.

In Book Club, Diane Keaton plays a woman clad in immaculate suits who charms everyone with her warm, scattered demeanor. Also, her name is Diane. And she’s wearing clothes that literally came from Keaton’s closet. Of all the “Diane Keaton” roles the Oscar winner has played before, it’s Book Club that contains the most meta performance of all—which was intentional.

“In the original draft of the script, Diane was our archetype for the character,” director and co-writer Bill Holderman explained in a recent interview. The first-time director and his co-writer, Erin Simms, first dreamt up the idea for their film—a romantic comedy about four best friends (played by Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen) who bond over reading the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy—back in 2012. That year, Holderman sent his mother the Fifty Shades books as a cheeky Mother’s Day gift. Simms, who initially thought that idea was absurd, quickly followed suit. That inspired them to write the film, with the role of “Diane” strictly envisioned for Keaton. (Fonda’s role was also written specifically for her, though her character’s name was later changed to Vivian). Keaton is among a select group of actors who can often be found playing a dramatized version of herself on-screen—which is sublime when it works, and incredibly frustrating when it doesn’t.

Holderman and Simms didn’t know if Book Club would pass the Keaton Test. But then came the “surreal” part, Holderman said: Keaton’s agent was interested in the script, and sent it on over to her. Soon, Holderman was summoned for a meeting with Keaton herself.

Pause, for a moment, here—what do you imagine a meeting with Diane Keaton is like? Full of light and laughter? Perhaps, in your imagination, she walks in carrying an ice-filled glass of wine in one hand, an iPad open to her highly curated Pinterest page in the other? You imagine levity, whimsy! But no: that’s just Keaton’s on-screen persona. In real life, she’s a lot more scrupulous.

“I think the first thing she said to me, before she even said ‘hello,’ [was]: ‘I can’t be in a bad movie. This can’t be a bad movie,’” Holderman recalled. “So that’s sort of how Diane Keaton enters a room.”

The actress was wary, at first, of Holderman’s lack of directing expertise; his film experience is mainly in producing Robert Redford dramas like The Company You Keep and The Conspirator. And Simms was a first-time screenwriter.

“She said to us, ‘Well, what makes you think you guys are gonna make a good movie?’” Simms said of their next meeting with Keaton. “‘I’ve heard this before from first-time directors.’”

Keaton—who, Simms noted, walked in wearing “the most badass three-piece suit”—was charmed by the character on the page, however: “One of the other first things she said was, ‘Well, I know why you guys came to me.’”



Share this Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.