Diane Keaton

  1. Susan St James, McMIllan & Wife, TV, 1971-1977.   As his film career never recovered from Seconds and Darling Lili, Rock Hudson turned to the tube with script, casting and director approval dfrom the   Once Upon a Dead Man pilot get-go. For example, he selected Susan over Jill Clayburgh, Angie Dickinson and Diane Keaton, for Police Commissioner McMillian’s missus, Sally McMillan.  “She put him at ease.:” said producer (and Thin Man fan) Leonard Stern. “She had a sense of humour… and she seemed to be the right age.” (Oh really? She was 21 years younger than Hudson!).  Susan quit after ’75-76 season over a salary dispute (what else?) and was killed off in a plane crash.  The show was the least successful one-third of the NBC Mystery Movie series, alongside Peter Falk’s Columbo and Dennis Weaver’s McCloud. (Columbo is still playing on in France as I write this in May 2022).
  2. Jeannie Berlin, The Heartbreak Kid, 1972.      Writer’s instinct v director’s nepotism. “Diane gave a reading that was to die for!” reported Neil Simon. “Dynamite,  perfect, a knockout, no contest – sensational!  But  she didn’t get  the part. I was shocked. I don’t think Elaine didn’t like her, she just wanted to get Jeannie in  the film.”  Elaine May was directing; Jeannie is her daughter. “If it had been a play,” added Neil Simon, “I’d have won.” He never doubted Berlin’s acting ability: “she got an Academy Award nomination and was quite good.”  She could write, too. In  1990, Jeannie (co)-wrote a script for Elaine, The Spirit.
  3. Katharine Ross, The Stepford Wives, 1975.     UK writer-director Bryan Forbes got on famously with Diane.  “She seemed to get  on famously with me. We kissed goodbye and I said:  ‘You’ll be very good.’ Next morning, she called and quit.  ‘What changed your mind between 5pm and 9am?’ ‘I gave the script to my analyst and he got very bad vibes from it’.”  A furious Forbes retorted: “Well, I’m not casting your analyst, I’m casting you.” The analyst was right. 

  4. Julie Christie, Heaven Can Wait, 1977.    
    Co-writer and co-director (and star) Warren Beatty has been Keaton’s schoolgirl crush after she sawSplendour in the Grass. And he came backstage to see her during her Broadway run in Play It Again Sam.  But so did his lady, Julie Christie – “the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” Keaton preferred to “hit the bars as Theresa Dunn” in Looking For Mr Goodbar. Beatty had not given  up on Diane though… “When Warren called me at Christmas, it wasn‘t about a  job….” He kept calling and by July 1978, they were lovers. He turned out to be more complex than she ever imagined, of course, but…   “Once Warren chose to shine his light on you. there was no going back.” Her  teenage dreams had come true – she was a  movie star and Warren Beatty was her boyfriend –  “my splendour in the grass.”  And of course with all his conquests, he had a part fort her. But Reds ripped them apart.  He publicly  thanked her  in 2017 for her artistry, inspiration and friendship and above all, her aid onReds.  “She came up with so much of the story… If it wasn’t for her, I couldn’t have done Reds. You were completely indispensable. You made the movie.” Keaton mouthed back at him: “You made the movie.” 

  5. Mary Beth Hurt, Interiors, 1977.   Woody Allen asked Diane to be Joey, but she felt Renata was a more comfortable fit.  No problem. (He didn’t even ask: Should roles be comfortable?)   She was not happy with Woody’s first drama (directly after Annie Hall) with September also dragging its heels ten years later. “Miscast (!) as a brilliant writer in the vein of Renata Adler, I smoked cigarettes and knotted my brow in an effort to seem intelligent.  The words Woody wrote didn’t fit on the lips of my experience. The only thing that distracted me from my discomfort… were legendary [co-stars] Geraldine Page and Maureen Stapleton.” (Diane had been another Renata,  Renata Baldwin Wallinger, in Woody’s 1972 tele-short,  Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story. PBS yanked the Nixon/Kissinger satire  after pressure from the Nixon White House).
  6. Susan Sarandon, Pretty Baby, 1977.   The plot sickens… A prostitute allows her 12-year-old  daughter’s virginity to be auctioned off in a brothel in the red-light Storyville district of  New Orleans, circa 1917. Elegant French director Louis Malle saw 29possible pretty Violets – and another 19 actresses for her mother: Candice Bergen, Cher, Julie Christie, Glenn Close (passed), Faye Dunaway, Mia Farrow, Farrah Fawcett (passed), Jane Fonda (with Jodie Foster as her daughter), Goldie Hawn (preferred Foul Play), Anjelica Huston, Diane Keaton, Sylvia Kristel (Emmanuelle, herself),   Liza Minnelli, Cybil Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver. Plus Joan Collins, who suggested Jasmine Maimone,  her screen daughter in that year’s Magnum Cop,  would  make a fine Violet. Louis  Malle and Sarandon became lovers and also made Atlantic City, 1980… the year he married Bergen until his 1995 death.
  7. Jane Fonda, The Electric Horseman, 1978.  Keaton was suggested for the  TV journalist Hallie Martion – even though the titular Robert Redford found Annie Hall too parochial…!  Anyway, Warren Beatty made sure his lover was not available. (He was planning to direct her in  Reds, 1979). “Quite simply,” said RR’s usual director Sydney Pollack, ”Warren wouldn’t have Diane kissing Bob Redford, the most desirable star in the world.  He wasn’t dumb. He wouldn’t want the competition.”  RR requested Fonda,, one of his three favourite  co-stars.  She called him the master  of foreplay. ”You’re always leading the characters right up to the bedroom door and that makes for a very sexy picture.”
  8. Audrey Hepburn, Bloodline, 1979.     Candice Bergen and Jacqueline Bisset also backed away, blindly, from Terence Young’s thriller. “Keaton,” said Woody, “always looks like the woman who comes to take Blanche DuBois to the sanitarium.”
  9. Romy Schneider, La mort en direct (UK/US: Death Watch), France-West Germany-UK, 1979.      Lyons realisateur Lyons realisateur Bertrand Tavernier unwisely  insisted on Romy (and Harvey Keitel). His American producers wanted American names: Jill or Jane Fonda, Robert De Niro or Richard Gere.
  10. Liza Minnelli, Arthur, 1980.     Brand new auteur Steve Gordon knew exactly who was perfect. Dudley Moore as the titular rich drunk man-child and Minnelli as his lady. Orion Pictures also considered Keaton, Mia Farrow, Farrah Fawcett, Carrie Fisher, Goldie Hawn, Barbara Hershey, Jessica Lange, Kay Lenz (1972’s Breezy, already looking for a comeback), Bette Midler, Gilda Radner, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Sehpherd… even Meryl Streep, Debra Winger. Plus  Tuesday Weld – in the throes of divorcing the titular  Dud. Gordon made it a big hit, but never a second film – he died at 44 in 1982.
  11. Mia Farrow,  A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy,  1981.“His Krafft is Ebing” said Washington critic Margot Kernan.  Hah!  After seven films, one Oscar and a long affair, Woody Allen asked Diane to be Ariel, but  she was committed  not only to Alan Parker’s Shoot The Moonwith Albert Finney but promo-trailing  Reds  made by hernew lover (Woody’s nemesis), Warren Beatty. “Diane is unpredictable, suspenseful, sometimes comedic, sometimes tragic. She came up with so much of the story …If it wasn’t for her, I couldn’t have done Reds.If it wasn’t for her, I couldn’t have done “Reds.”And over on Woody’s set …   “There were days,” said Mia, “when we shot scenes from two or three different films: Midsummer, Zeligand Broadway Danny Rose”. With her pre-Raphelite look, she was great and relaunched her floundering  career as Woody’s  lover and muse from 1980 until she found his naked polaroids of her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, in 1992… when Diane rallied to his cause and replaced her in his Manhattan Murder Mystery, 1992 (based on an hour cut from their Annie Hall, 1977).  

  12. Jessica Lange, Frances, 1982.  
    Howard Hawks  said  she always seemed to be shining. “More talent than anyone I ever worked with.” She and Vivien Leigh were beaten by Ingrid Bergman to For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1943 She’s the subject of various books, plays (viz Sally Clarke’s Saint Frances of Hollywood),  pop and rock songs  – French-Canadian singer Mylène Farmer even took her name. All actresses loved her talent and guts (when wrongfully committed to asylums by her parents) and  wanted to ply…  Frances Farmer.  From the sublime to the ridiculous: Meryl Streep to Susan Dey  of TV’s Partridge Family. Kim Basinger tested with Sam Shepard (Lange’s husband). Undaunted Susan Blakely made her own 1983  TVersion (from Farmer’s book, Will There Really Be A Morning?). Plus Anne Archer, Blythe Danner, Patty Duke, Mia Farrow, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Glenda Jackson, Diane Keaton, Liza Minnelli, Katharine Ross, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Tuesday Weld, Natalie Wood. Plus Constance Money, who met  with  producer  Mel Brooks and debuting director Graeme Clifford. They liked her. Not her CV. Seven porno films in three years.  Even if they used her real name (Sue Jensen), someone would have blown an expensive whistle about her hardcore career.

  13. Linda Hamilton, The Terminator, 1983.     In all, 55 actresses were considered, seen or tested for Sarah Connor (aged18; Linda was 27) opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. Auteur James Cameron created Sarah for Bridget Fonda. She passed; so did Tatum O’Neal. He decided to go older… and Glenn Close won – her schedule didn’t agree. OK, Kate Capshaw! No, she was tied to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – and Kathleen Turner was Romancing The Stone. Debra Winger won her audition, said yes… then no.   The other 48 ladies were The ’80s Group: Keaton, Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Christy Brinkley, Colleen Camp, Jamie Lee Curtis, Geena Davis, Judy Davis, Mia Farrow, Carrie Fisher, Jodie Foster, Teri Garr, Jennifer Grey, Melanie Griffith, Darryl Hannah, Barbara Hershey, Anjelica Huston, Amy Irving, Margot Kidder, Diane Lane, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Heather Locklear, Lori Loughlin, Kelly McGillis, Kristy McNichol, Michelle Pfeiffer, Deborah Raffin, Meg Ryan, Susan Sarandon, Ally Sheedy, Cybill Shepherd, Brooke Shields, Sissy Spacek, Sharon Stone, Lea Thompson, Sigourney Weaver… one aerobics queen, Bess Motta (she became Sarah’s room-mate, Ginger Ventura), two singers (Madonna, Liza Minnelli), two Brits (Miranda Richardson, Jane Seymour), five essentially funny girls, Goldie Hawn, Rhea Perlman (Mrs Danny De Vito), Gilda Radner, Mary Tyler Moore…plus the new MTM, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, from Saturday Night Live. Most were in contention again a few years later for Fatal Attraction (won by Close) and The Accused (going to Foster and McGillis). Ten years later (after T2), Linda gave birth to Cameron’s daughter and Josephine’s parents wed in 1997… for two years.
  14. Rosanna Arquette, Desperately Seeking Susan, 1985. Just not as important as desperately seeking Frances…
  15. Isabella Rossellini, Blue Velvet,1985.  The legend varies… 1.  Auteur David Lynch’s first choice for Dorothy Valens was the German star Hanna Schyguylla.  2. Lynch wrote Dorothy for Debbie Harry but she was fed up with playing weirdoes. 3. He moved on to Karen Allen, Rebecca De Mornay, Jodie Foster, Debbie Harry, Helen Hunt, Angelica Huston, Diane Keaton, Helen Mirren, Cybill Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Sigourney Weaver, Debra Winger – most found Dorothy’s script way too erotic.  4.Lynch then met Isa in a NYC restaurant and fell head over clapperboard in love.  Literally.
  16. Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1986.

  17. Jodie Foster, The Accused, 1988.
    Awful thing to say. Except it is true. Jodie Foster would never have won her (first) Oscar for this trenchant drama – if actress Kelly McGillis had not been raped in 1982… At first, the role of the rape victim Sarah Tobias was written for Andie MacDowell. She passed. The Paramount suits then saw 34 other young actresses for the (real life) victim. Or, for their own rape bait fantasies – including 16-year-old Alyssa Milano! Foster was refused a test because she was “not sexy enough”! And, anyway, the studio had decided upon McGillis, a high flyer in  Paramount’s Witness and Top Gun. And, naturally, she refused point-blank! She knew what it was to be brutally raped and  Kelly had no wish to revisit the horror and agony of her own assault six years earlier.  The suits were annoyed. They needed her. She was hot at the box-office, their box-office. They had made her a star!! Eventually, McGillis agreed to play Sarah’s defence attorney – on condition that unsexy Jodie played Sarah! The suits caved, tested Foster and the rest is Oscar history… So is the huge list of talent also seen for Sarah.   Starting with the Fatal Attraction also-rans: Keaton, Rosanna Arquette, Ellen Barkin, Kim Basinger, Jennifer Beals, Jennifer Grey, Melanie Griffith, Linda Hamilton, Darryl Hannah, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Demi Moore, Kelly Preston, Meg Ryan, Jane Seymour, Sharon Stone, Meryl Streep, Debra Winger.   And moving on to the younger Melissa Sue Anderson (trying to break her Little House on the Prairie image), Justine Bateman, Valerie Bertinelli, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Connelly, Joan Cusack, Judy Davis, Kristin Davis, Bridget Fonda, Annabeth Gish, Mariel Hemingway, Kelly LeBrock, Virginia Madsen, Brigitte Nielsen, Tatum O’Neal, Molly Ringwald, Mia Sara, Ally Sheedy, Brooke Shields, Uma Thurman.  Oh, and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, said the suits, was “too nice.” Rape victims shouldn’t be nice? Oh, Hollywood!

  18. Kelly McGillis, The Accused, 1988.      Next, the suits saw a further 27 actresses for the victim’s lawyer. Including, again, the Fatal Attractioners from Geena Davis, Sally Field, Goldie Hawn, Barbara Hershey, Tuesday Weld – to Keaton, Meryl Streep and Debra Winger, who were offered both roles. Plus Beverly D’Angelo, Blythe Danner, Carrie Fisher, Teri Garr, Mary Gross, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver, Dianne Wiest. A 1982 rape victim herself, McGillis refused the lead. Obviously. However, she agreed to play Sarah’s defence attorney – on condition that the studio-described “unsexy” Jodie, and no one else, played Sarah! The suits caved, tested Foster and the rest is Oscar history… dated March 29, 1989.  

  19. Scott Glenn,The Silence of the Lambs, 1989.
  20. Catherine O’Hara, Home Alone, 1990.  For the zero roles of Macauley Culkin’s forgetful parents (in a film written for and duly stolen by him), an astonishing 66 stars were considered – including 32 later seen for the hot lovers in Basic Instinct:Kim Basinger, Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Kevin Costner, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Douglas, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Marilu Henner, Anjelica Huston, Helen Hunt, Holly Hunter, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Christopher Lloyd, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Annie Potts, Kelly Preston, Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Martin Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, John Travolta.   Other near Moms were Kirstie Alley, Lynda Carter, Kim Cattrall, Geena Davis, Laura Dern, Jennifer Grey, Gates McFadden, Kelly McGillis, Bette Midler, Ally Sheedy, Mary Steenburgen, Debra Winger… and the inevitable unknown: Maureen McCormick, part of The Brady Bunch for seven 1981 chapters.

  21. Susan Sarandon, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  22. Annette Bening, Bugsy, 1990.    Twenty years earlier,  the nouvelle vagueicon Jean-Luc Godard wrote his own Bugsy Siegel story  – called just that, The Story. He aimed it at Keaton ,Jean-Paul Belmondo (or Robert De Niro), Vittorio Gassman, Charlotte Rampling. When Keaton changed her mind about being Virginia HIll, Godard gave up and went back  to France. By the time Warren Beatty decided to direct and play Bugsy, his muse had changed to Bening from Keaton, who he publicly  praised in 2017. “Diane is unpredictable, suspenseful, sometimes comedic, sometimes tragic.” The scripting of Warren Beatty’s vesion took James Toback… six years.
  23. Ellen Barkin, Man Trouble, 1991.     Because it was for  Carole Eastman and Bob Rafelson – the writer  and the director of his finest work, Five Easy Pieces –  Jack Nicholson stayed with the project since the 70s, seeing partners like Keaton  and Jeanne Moreau come and go. He made it with Ellen Barkin. They shouldn’t have bothered.  (He finally partnered “Special K” in Something’s Gotta Give).
  24. Jessica Lange, Cape Fear, 1991.  The 80s had begun to sour for Keaton, after her Oscar, her Woody Allen  films, and new lover Warren Beatty’s Reds,  her next four films tanked. Shoot The Moon, The Little Drummer Girl, Mrs Soffel, Crimes of the Heart “Somehow,” she reported, “Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro agreed to have a meet/greet… [Pause] They went with Jessica” – Keaton’s sister in Crimes of the Heart, 1986.

  25. Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct, 1991.

  26. Lorraine Bracco, Medicine Man, 1991.  IMDb said the pitch was: “In the beautiful and dangerous Amazon rainforest, dissimilar people must make their choices between business, science and love.”  Not to mention who should win between Keaton, Jessica Lange and (the awful) Bracco, for the Mexico shoot as Dr Rae Crane opposite Sean Connery’s $10m role of Dr Robert Campbell. 
  27. Annette Bening, The American President, 1995.    The role: Michael Douglas’ First Lady.
  28. Goldie Hawn, Everyone Says I Love You, 1996.      Not free to be the only old-hand as Woody Allen struck out for the youth market with Julia Roberts, Tim Roth, etc.
  29. Madonna, Evita, 1996.     Don’t cry for me, lah-di-dah. “I was pretty much washed up as an actress and certainly as a fledgling director” – before Something’s Gotta Give” in 2003.
  30. Cher, Tea With Mussolini, 1999.     Director Franco Zeffirelli talked to various  50-somethings (Keaton, Glenn Close, included) about being the eccentric, wealthy, much-wed American adventuress and Italophile Elsa Morgenthal Strauss-Armistan –   based on the childhood chapter of the maestro’s autobiography.

  31. Nicole Kidman, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, 2006.      Within  weeks of 1984 publication, MGM snapped up rights to Patricia Bosworth’s  bio of photographer Diane Arbus for Diane – “the perfect quality… she was funny and ditzy and brave.” Kidman was then 17, five years away from her initial breakthrough, Bangkok Hilton, on Australian TV.
  32. Jennifer Aniston, Life of Crime, 2013.     Or The Switch in 1986, as per the Elmore Leonard book it came from, when Keaton was set to play the kidnapped Mickey Dawson. Fox changed its mind – “too close to Ruthless People.”  Aniston, the very reason the title was, er, switched (she’d made another Switch in 2010)  became the victim of Ordell, Louis and Melanie – last seen played by Samuel L Jackson, Robert Niro and Bridget Fonda in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.  But this time by Yaslin Bey, John Hawkes and Isla Fisher.  Very Second XI. Leonatr, a  remarkable author,  died a month  before the 2013 Canadian opening, at 87.














 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  28