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Most nights Diane Keaton sits down for dinner with her daughter, Dexter, 17, and son, Duke, 12, and puts a tape recorder right in the middle of the table. "My kids each have five minutes to delve into an issue in their life," says Keaton. "My family, we never talked about our problems. But this way my kids can say what's on their minds without getting interrupted. One day I'm going to listen to those tapes. It will be like listening to a record of their lives."
Keaton has always been a prolific record keeper. Earlier this year her deeply personal memoir, Then Again, was a best seller. She also recently released House, her second book on architecture and design, a childhood passion. And then, of course, there are her 40-plus films. Watch Keaton's movies and you can witness the actress's own transformation: from a neurotic twentysomething in Annie Hall (1977) to a driven career woman in Reds (1981) to a middle-aged romantic in Something's Gotta Give (2003). But motherhood is Keaton's most defining role these days. Much of her tireless energy is focused on Dexter and Duke, helping them navigate tween and teenage life. Over a long chat, LHJ talked to Keaton about the joys and challenges of being an older mom, and how, after all these years, she has stayed so wildly original.
How she sees herself: "I see myself as an oddball. My mother did give me a lot of independence and she encouraged me to go my own way. There was a lot of license to follow your dream. But I didn't want to do just one thing. I remember Warren (Beatty) telling me, "You wanted to be a movie star... so be a movie star." But that's not all I wanted to be."
Her romances with Warren Beatty, Woody Allen and Al Pacino and why they didn't work out: "They needed the right kind of woman. Managerial skills are necessary to handle men like that and I'm not the manager type. I also don't think I have a lot of nurturing skills. I needed as much as they needed and that's not a good mix. I didn't choose wisely for a long-term partnership where we could weather experiences together and be there for each other."
Her message to other women: "I want to tell women: Don't give up on yourself. So you make a mistake here and there, you do too much or you do too little. Just have fun. Smile. And keep putting on lipstick."
Her fashion choices: "It's all based on flaws that have to be remedied. When I got older, I discovered gloves and hats and turtlenecks. When you get to a certain age, you shouldn't wear strapless gowns where everything is exposed because you look ridiculous."
For more of our interview with Diane Keaton, pick up the new issue of LHJ on newsstands or get a copy on your iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook, or Google Play device at LHJ.com/digital.