Emmanuel Itier: Are you hiding anything under that belt today?
Diane Keaton: Just the usual.
EI: It looks like you guys had a blast–a bunch of women on this. Did you crack up a lot?
DK: We did. You know, we were also working in Shreveport [Laugh], so it was a different experience because it was sort of like we were actually in an atmosphere that was really what the story was about. A bunch of…three women—unlikely friends—thrust together…the fact that they were all victims of the system, and I think that it speaks so much to what’s kind of going on right now. It’s really…I mean, obviously, this is a fun movie. It’s not taking any of this really seriously, but at the same time, it’s talking about all those people who are the sub-prime problems, losing their homes—like Katie’s character, where she wants to see the world but doesn’t have the opportunity, and Nina is the kind of person, that Queen Latifah’s playing, who has to raise these kids and has no money. We’re like forgotten, invisible women, and I feel like, with that in mind, it’s a very topical movie. Obviously, it’s a caper, but at the same time, it’s what a lot of people are going through right now, and it’s also very interesting to me because it’s a political year. We’re gonna elect a president, and it’s just so interesting. So the movie was interesting to me, and I enjoyed that part of it—what was kind of underlying what it was about.
Katie Holmes: Well, I agree. And of course, we did also have a lot of fun shooting the movie. I was so honored to work with Diane, and it was terrific. It was amazing. So in light of everything that she has said, we also had a lot of laughs, but we were also—you know—working, and we had a lot to talk about.
DK: Oh yeah, we did. And really the intimate time is always in the make-up trailer.
EI: You guys did a tour?
DK: Oh the real Fed. [To Katie]: You went to the real Fed, didn’t you? I didn’t because I would have wanted to have stolen…
KH: It was really interesting. I’d never been before. Nice people. It’s a hard job because it never changes. You’re looking at all this money, and you aren’t making any money, so it’s hard.
EI: One of the things that’s said, whether flashback or flash-forward or whatever, is where you guys kind of all say money can buy you happiness, and I’m just wondering…
DK: We’re dependent on the system and on the policies that we’ve all grown accustomed to, and everything’s sort of shaky now, with the talk of possible recession. It scares people, and particularly those people. But anyway, I didn’t mean to interrupt what you were going to say.
EI: We’re always taught that money can’t buy you happiness, but in a certain respect, this movie has fun with this idea. But with these people, it actually can buy them some happiness, at least for a time.
DK: Security and opportunity…and in the case of my character, she gets a little bit carried away–like really loses herself behind the cash, which is also one of the temptations, of course. And then she sort of learns a lesson because I think the most extraordinary thing that happens in my character’s life is that she has this college education. She’s married to a man who was supposed to be just fine, he gets downsized suddenly because the company doesn’t want to pay for him anymore, and their whole life turns into shambles and she’s gonna lose her house, so it’s terrifying.
EI: What did you do to try and make the character sympathetic? Her motives and actions tended not to be that sympathetic.
DK: I think they’re completely sympathetic, and I never thought about whether I was likable or not because guess what? If that happened to me—and you know I’m a woman of a certain age and people just think you’re supposed to just roll over and give up with life—I think, hey, you know what? Forget it. You can take hold of your life, you can still have adventure, you can still find friends in the most unlikely situations, and you can make something of your life. It’s not over. Life is an adventure. It doesn’t have to just be like Oh God, it’s over. I got my Liberal Arts degree, and nobody wants me and I can’t help my husband. To me, all she ever aspired to was to be in the country club set, and what was that? That was so lame, she needed something to shake up her life. She needed to find out. It makes her more empathetic, because now her life has expanded to the realm of seeing how extraordinary these people are who she got together with—these two other women who she never would have known—from different generations, different walks of life.
EI: Would Annie Hall still have been taking on the system 35 years later?
DK: Okay, that’s a good question, but Annie Hall has taken on the system. I don’t know. I don’t think they’re the same person.
EI: At times, she was almost outside the system.
DK: Yeah, that’s right.
EI: Katie, when you were pushing the cart around and all that, did you have anything on in your ear?
KH: It was a lot of the music that you heard in the film. Oh okay. My soundtrack.
EI: How did you perceive your character?
KH: What was appealing and really exciting about playing this character is she’s very smart, but she’s seen as sort of just a happy go lucky kind of girl. But it does take somebody who had instinct and a sort of wisdom about herself to take on this adventure, and I also liked the fun of her and I liked her making an adventure out of this job that was pretty monotonous every day, and so she is a creative person, and I also thought her love for her husband was very sweet and I liked their relationship. I thought they were a very funny, warm couple. And I loved the way that she was very open to going on this adventure with people that she’d just met, and that was okay. Cool. Why not? And it’s fun to play people who say why not instead of posing problems.
EI: Were you trying to access your character from Pieces of April?
KH: I had a lot of fun playing April in Pieces of April. There were similarities between these two characters. They were both different and not your normal type of person who goes to college and gets a job, but I felt like Jackie was a little bit different and in a different place. Jackie would have loved to live in the East Village of New York City if only she’d seen a picture of it.
EI: Diane, did you have fun working with Ted?
DK: Oh yeah. It’s a shame he’s married. I really liked kissing him. I always like kissing men. It’s my only opportunity–in a movie role–so I really liked that scene and I was really happy when they stuck that in there. I think Ted wanted to have that scene between us in the middle of the movie so they wrote that scene later, and I’m really glad they did.
EI: Diane, last year you worked with Mandy Moore and this year you’re working with Katie Holmes—two young up-and-coming actresses.
DK: They’re taking off. The future is theirs.
EI: Talk about working with her and the pressures young actresses face these days.
DK: Of course, the landscape of their lives is completely different than when I was coming up with Annie Hall or some of those early movies like The Godfather. At that time, the press was not that prevalent. It was a very different thing. It was fashionable, at the time, to stay away from it; less is more was the attitude of the time. You only did certain things, very rarely. So I believe Katie and Mandy, and even Dana are thrust into a world where you really have to be more than just an actress. Particularly, of course, Katie, because its kind of like movie royalty. It’s like Grace Kelly or something. Every time you go out there, you’re observed and scrutinized, and you have to handle it, and you take on so much more than the fun and the adventure of being an actress. I think Katie’s really fascinating because she takes it very seriously, from what I can see and observe–more of an approach like that music thing was there all the time, but quietly. She’d quietly be going off into some world that was like who that person was, Jackie. So observationally, it’s incredibly more complex to be a movie actress now. It’s more challenging because your life is like [Blows through her lips like an explosion]. And what about the fucking–excuse me, I mean the Internet–the fact that you’re there and suddenly there are pictures there, and people are talking about you all the time, and you have to be strong. It builds character, in some ways, if you can hack it, if you can handle it. That’s the way I feel about it.
EI: [To Katie] Can you comment on this?
KH: I think you’re [Keaton] being very generous. People like myself, and I know Dana and I’m sure Mandy–it’s so exciting to learn from you and see how you work, and the movies you’ve done have inspired all of us, so we’re wondering what’s Diane thinking. It’s really amazing. So we’ve learned a lot from you.
EI: Katie, do you ever wish you could pack your family in an RV and drive across America and nobody would recognize you?
KH: Do I have to drive? [Laughs] It’s a big responsibility. I do love road trips. I think that would be a family adventure for sure.
EI: What do you hope the audience gets out of seeing Mad Money?
DK: For me, just the recognition of female bonding, what women can do, and also recognizing there are a lot of people who live these lives. They’re not the subject of movies very often. I feel like that alone speaks well of the movie.
KH: I was excited to be part of a movie with great female characters, and I loved seeing a lot of women on screen and having a female director, and I’m excited for women and men to go in and have fun. They’re interesting characters.
EI: Is that Callie’s strength–to write a good story and characters?
DK: The answer to that is yes.
EI: In the scripts you see, how many have good female protagonists?
DK: The kind of roles that I get now are frequently…it used to be about 10 or 15 years ago–the over-the-shoulder wife, that’s the role I got. Now I do a lot of mothers. I’m frequently playing a mother, which is incredibly fascinating to me…but that’s why this was fabulous. I wasn’t playing a mother. I was actually engineering this plot. That was great fun. I became a criminal, which is great to play, and it’s a buddy picture. It is a rarity. It’s a rarity on a lot of levels.
EI: What sort of roles are you being offered, Katie?
KH: Actually, I’ve read some interesting period pieces, which I love. I’ve seen some great thrillers, so there are good female roles out there, but it’s not ten for ten. One out of ten.
EI: Are you eager to work a lot because you’re still a new mum? Want to do one or two pictures a year?
KH: It depends on the role. It’s finding a balance. I don’t want to say I’ll only do this amount a year because that’s not how life works. You have to look at what’s happening in the next three months. Where are we in [the kids'] ages and what’s going on in their lives? It’s really on a project by project basis. But I had a great time working on this film and I love working, and I love working and being a mom. It’s something I look forward to doing, and when it happens, I’m like why did I wait? It’s so much better.
EI: This was the first film you made after you had Suri, right?
EI: So she was just a little thing. You brought her with you to set?
KH: Yeah, it was great. My trailer had a high chair and teddy bears. It was wonderful.
EI: Katie, do you have a chance to go back and watch Dawson’s Creek?
KH: I’ve seen all the episodes. We’d get them in advance. I’ll watch one when I catch one, but I feel like I’ve seen them all [Laughter].
EI: Do you feel that’s another human being?
KH: No, I had great fun, fond memories, and great people. It’s like looking at a yearbook.
EI: Talk about working with Queen Latifah.
DK: Queen is sort of a Renaissance woman. She does a little bit of everything and she does it very well, and she’s a dynamic personality…and she’s beautiful. You can’t beat it. I went and saw her act. She was at Royce Hall [UCLA] and I saw her sing. That was an absolute revelation to me. I’ve seen her sing in movies, but she can sing anything and she’s brilliant. She takes over the audience. She talks, and loose and free and fun. She’s astonishing. She can do anything.
KH: I agree. She’s amazing. I was like, “What?” She kind of reveals, oh, I’m going to do this and just…cool. She’s calm and cool.
DK: She can take anything. She’s strong–a strong woman.
EI: Did you have input into the wardrobe and hair in this film?
KH: Definitely, which is part of the fun in creating the character. That was my hair. It allowed for a long time in the makeup trailer.
EI: Was there a lot of improvisation?
DK: I don’t think there was a lot of improvisation. Not really. There was a lot of looseness in terms of the takes would change a lot from take to take, which made it fun and spontaneous. Callie was watching words a lot. She’s really serious about the words.
EI: If you came on a whole lot of money, would you save or spend it?
DK: I’d spend it. Are you kidding? There are so many things I have in my mind. I know what I would do. I’d buy up historic homes all over the United States and open them up to the public and restore them so that the public could be more aware of the treasures we have throughout the United States. I would love nothing more than to do that for the rest of my life, if I could. If I could earn a living doing that, if I came into a lot of money, if I won the lottery, that’s what I would do.
EI: You’re already involved in The Heritage Foundation…
DK: Yeah, but I can’t buy up those houses and save them. Even the Ennis House, which is the Frank Lloyd Wright house, which the LA Conservancy was able to raise just from falling off the side of the hill, still needs another $10 million to make it what it was. It’s such a spectacular, great piece of art that’s right there, and we can walk through and appreciate what was going on in Los Angeles at the time and what was going on with Frank Lloyd Wright at the time, and so I feel like I don’t have the money to do that, frankly.
EI: Were you concerned when Jimmy Stewart’s house was torn down last year?
DK: Oh that was a tragedy. I bought this house, Dexter was like three, and we moved into this house on Roxbury in Beverly Hills where all these people had lived before. I bought a house that everybody wanted to tear down. It wasn’t a famous house, but half of it was a Wallace-Neff house, and on that street, though, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny–at the time the biggest stars in the world–Ira Gershwin, Rosemary Clooney…all lived on Roxbury north of Sunset. It was like this community place. So Jimmy Stewart had this incredible Tudor [style] house on the corner of Roxbury, and he actually died the day I moved in. It was so sad. A year later, the family had to sell the house. You know, people don’t have endless reams of money to keep these things going. You know what it costs. It was on a huge double lot. Honestly, it was on an acre and a half of land on flat plot–it was amazing. And a year later, they started tearing it down. I remember going in there with Dexter, my daughter, and sneaking in and saving tiles. I still have them. It was such a tragedy because it could have been restored. It could have worked for any family. It was plenty big. Nobody wanted to take on the task of doing the work that was required. I’m happy to do the work and have families buy these things up and live in them. They’re treasures.
EI: What would you do with all that money, Katie?
KH: Well, I’d help you [to Diane] with that.
DK: She has, actually. Katie showed up to an LA Conservancy fundraiser and gave a lot of money. Thank you, by the way.
KH: My pleasure.
DK: It was really helpful, though.
EI: Have either of you anything frivolous?
DK: Of course. What do you think?
EI: What’s next for you both?
DK: I did do a book. You can buy it in the stores. It’s called California Romantica. It’s Spanish homes in Southern California.
EI: Katie, what’s coming out? What are you up to?
KH: Promoting Mad Money.
EI: Love your hair…
KH: It’s real easy.
EI: Would you do a sequel?
KH: In a heartbeat.