Diane Keaton turns to cheerleading in 'Poms,' as a movie icon considers her future
By JAMI GANZ | New York Daily News | Published: May 9, 2019
Nearly a half-century after making her bones in "The Godfather," Diane Keaton is playing a cheerleader.
In her latest movie, "Poms," the 73-year-old Keaton, who won hearts -- and an Oscar -- wearing ties and a fedora in "Annie Hall," dons a short skirt as Martha, a woman who moves to a retirement community as a means of facing her own mortality.
As a last-ditch effort to reclaim the life she has left, Martha starts a cheerleading club with her fellow female residents, refusing to surrender to the realities of time.
"They’re humiliated, and they’re afraid, and they can’t adjust, you know, that’s the story to me," Keaton told the Daily News. "A lot of people go through that, men and women, they just give up. You don’t want to give up, you want to live your life to the fullest until the end."
And though Keaton slips into the role of Martha as flawlessly as ever, she admits, "I would never have done any of those things. I would never be cheerleading," nor, she says, would she have joined that club, "much less be part-creator of (it)."
On the face of it, "Poms" has many of the same ingredients as last year’s "Book Club." Both star Keaton in female-led casts, heavily focus on friendships between women in their later years, and address age-related misconceptions head-on.
Even so, Keaton feels they couldn’t be more different.
In addition to portraying "a different kind of friendship," Keaton says, "It’s the way (the women) treat themselves in this one. . I think it has to do with (Martha’s) own personal relationship with death."
Keaton credits 2003’s "Something’s Gotta Give" by writer-director Nancy Meyers with reinvigorating her career. The movie centers on a divorced playwright (Keaton) who becomes unglued when she unexpectedly falls for her daughter’s (Amanda Peet) decades-older playboy beau (Jack Nicholson). The film is, for all intents and purposes, a formulaic boy-meets-girl tale. The twist though, is in the casting: the two key players, unlike in most romantic films, are over 50, and in Nicholson’s case, over 60.
"I remember Nancy Meyers invited me to have lunch with her," Keaton recalled to The News. "And I had not been working, OK? . And so, she says, ’I’m gonna make a movie, and I want you to be in it, with Jack Nicholson.’ And I told her, ’Nancy, there’s no way anybody’s gonna make a movie with me, starring in it with Jack Nicholson.’
"That was just something that really changed my life in a big way, at a certain time in my life when nothing was happening. And because of that movie, I’ve had a longer longevity, more time to be in more movies, because of that movie. (That) movie means a tremendous amount to me emotionally, how she kind of came in and saved the day for me."
In addition to being a box office hit, the film earned the actress yet another Oscar nod.
More importantly, it reinstated her as comedic dynamite.
At the moment, Keaton is filming "Green Eggs and Ham" a series for Netflix, inspired by the Dr. Seuss book of the same name, slated to drop this fall, alongside an impressive voice cast (from Michael Douglas and Eddie Izzard to Ilana Glazer and Keegan-Michael Key).
But Keaton doesn’t presume future opportunities nor successes. "I don’t know what’s gonna come up for me at all," she told The News. "I’m a person who has enormous hobbies, so I really have a lot that I’m interested in doing outside of film."
She is, in fact, an author ("I just finished a book that I wrote about my brother"), singer, photographer and real estate developer ("I like to fix houses and fill them").
"I like to do a lot of things in my life. As long as I’m able to do that ." Keaton trailed off. "Of course if something came my way, of course I’m gonna do it."
Though the future is uncertain, even for those of Keaton’s caliber, she hopes "Poms" audiences follow Martha’s lead and make the most of their friendships and the time they have.
"(Put) yourself out there. Don’t get into your room and shut the door and close the curtains," she said.