Interview: Diane Keaton, Author Of 'Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty' Oscar-winning actress Diane Keaton's new memoir, Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty, tackles classic menswear, her insecurities about aging, and the new places she's learned to look for beauty.
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A Film And Fashion Icon On Aging, And The Power Of Turtlenecks

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A Film And Fashion Icon On Aging, And The Power Of Turtlenecks

A Film And Fashion Icon On Aging, And The Power Of Turtlenecks

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Diane Keaton remains a star, decades after her Academy Award-winning performance in Woody Allen's film "Annie Hall." She is 68 and a single mother of two. Keaton's new memoir is called "Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty." NPR's Mandalit Del Barco spoke with her at NPR West about aging and love in Hollywood and becoming a parent late in life.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Diane Keaton still sports her trademark look. Today, she's wearing a bowler hat, tinted glasses and oversized clothes.

DIANE KEATON: Clothing that actually hides the body. There's a lot to hide in my case so I'm the only remaining person on Earth with this particular look.

BARCO: I wore a turtleneck just in your honor.

KEATON: You look good.

BARCO: Thank you.

KEATON: Nice, up high, highlighting your beautiful face. It's framing it.

BARCO: That's the thing about turtlenecks, isn't it?

KEATON: Yeah. They frame your head. But if you have a short neck like me, it, you know, it'll do. Nothing's perfect.

BARCO: In her new book, Keaton writes a lot about her many insecurities. She frets about aging, her hair thinning, her eyes drooping.

KEATON: They keep falling down and look, it's like the weirdest shaped eyes. And, you know, I have also a hair fixation.

BARCO: Keaton writes that she's finally come to accept that all flaws are beautiful after all.

KEATON: I feel that wrong can be right. It can be right in a lot of ways so all those things that you're disappointed with in yourself can work for you.

BARCO: She remembers trying to reshape her nose with a clothing pin, but now she appreciates that the shape of her eyes is what she had in common with her father, Jack Hall, a real estate broker and civil engineer. Keaton says she still longs for him and her mother, Dorothy, a homemaker once crowned Mrs. Los Angeles who she wrote about in her first memoir a few years ago.

KEATON: I think about them all the time. I was a good daughter. That's the role that I really liked. I need to have somebody kind of guiding me, which my mother did because she was a great partner.

BARCO: Keaton says her mom cheered her on as she pursued her dreams of becoming a singer and performer in New York. After studying at the Neighborhood Playhouse in the 1960s, Keaton ended up an understudy in the original Broadway production of the rock musical "Hair."


KEATON: It was wild. It was unexpected, but I could see that I really wasn't a hippie. I knew that I wasn't a hippie in "Hair."

BARCO: Keaton famously refused to go onstage nude for the final scene of "Hair." Then, along came Woody Allen. He cast her in "Play It Again, Sam," his play, then his movie, also his film comedy "Sleeper," "Love and Death Manhattan," and, of course, "Annie Hall."


BARCO: Keaton's quirky role won her a best actress Oscar in 1978. She credits Woody Allen with her entire career and recently accepted his lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes. Throughout the controversy over allegations that Allen once molested his adopted daughter, Keaton has stood by him.

KEATON: That's never going to change. He's my very, very food friend.


BARCO: In her new memoir, Keaton also reminisces about other old boyfriends and co-stars like Warren Beatty, Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson.


KEATON: My concept of love with men was really very immature. I never saw myself in the role of a partner. I saw myself as the person that they would love. It's just - it was not - it didn't not work at all.

BARCO: So Keaton married, though, in films, she's one of the very few older American actresses who still gets leading roles says her long-time friend, actress Carol Kane.

CAROL KANE: She's playing, you know, the love interest a lot, you know, kind of passionately kissing and swooping into the bedroom, you know, and at age when most people just sort of, you know, want to say, OK, well, that part is over, you know. I mean, she just gets more and more beautiful because she's more and more herself.

BARCO: In her book, Keaton writes about collecting photos of beautiful men, renovating beautiful houses and raising children who've made her see beauty in new ways. When she turned 50, she adopted her daughter, Dexter and five years later, her son Duke.

KEATON: It is. It's an unconventional life. It's true.

BARCO: At 68, Keaton says she's a late bloomer, but the death of her parents finally got her to grow up.

KEATON: When you lose your parents, you're suddenly thrust into an entirely different world. You feel like you're basically living in a kind of a wonderland. It's no longer grounded and everything is new. Your perceptions of the things around you, never having been a person who really noticed trees, seriously it's as simple as that.

And I think this happens to a lot of people and I think, in a way, it's a gift of being older.

BARCO: Diane Keaton's new memoir is called "Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty." Mandalit Del Barco, NPR News.

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