Diane Lane plays a formidable role in the powerful ‘Let Him Go’
For the past four decades, the moviegoers and TV viewers among us have watched Diane Lane grow up before our eyes. Here’s a partial snapshot of her career. She’s played: the young American girl who falls for the young French boy in “A Little Romance” (1979), the kidnapped rock singer in “Streets of Fire” (1984), the prostitute in “Lonesome Dove” (1989), Paulette Goddard in “Chaplin” (1992), Stella in “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1995), a lonely wife in “A Walk on the Moon” (1999), a cheating wife in “Unfaithful” (2002), Martha Kent in “Man of Steel” (2013), the voice of Mom in “Inside Out” (2015).
Lane, 55, returns to the screen in “Let Him Go,” a tense, gritty, and emotional story set in early-1960s Montana. She and her husband (Kevin Costner, who played her husband Jonathan Kent in “Man of Steel”) are Margaret and George, enjoying a contented life on a horse ranch when family- and extended-family events turn their lives upside down. Lane spoke about the film and her approach to acting by phone from Toronto.
Q: Your bio says you were traveling as a full member of the experimental theater troupe La Mama when you were 6. Really?
A: Yes. My job was to play Medea’s young daughter, and we all know the fate of the children in that play. Who knew how many children didn’t fare well in these plays? (laughs) But it was great! We also did “Electra,” “The Trojan Women,” some Shakespeare, some Brecht. I was always just the little kid in the troupe. They kept me on, which was sweet!
Q. You’ve certainly done a lot of acting since those days. Are you one of those artists who’s able to get completely caught up in the role you’re playing?
A: Sometimes, yes, but not always. Some scenes demand a certain freedom. And when you get to the final outcome - meaning you know your lines and where you’re going to stand, and you know the framework of the scene with the other actors - then you just throw it up in the air, and you trust. You trust that you’re really in it, and sort of channeling this truth of experience. So, sometimes it is a bit like losing yourself for the greater good.
Q: What’s your relationship with scripts? How much do you have to read before deciding whether to take the part?
A: When I first read a script, I sit there and think, “I’m picturing this, but do I care about these people?” That’s the first thing that has to happen. And I’m looking at it from the perspective of an actress, and saying, “Do I feel that this is believable? Can I pass a lie detector test to myself? Can I bring this to life and stand there and hold my ground within what I’m reading?” I also think about what is the larger theme, and does it linger in a good way, or does it linger in a dark or harsh way? But at the same time, variety is the spice of life, and some days you want a movie that challenges you in a different way. I mean, I don’t want to wear the same shirt every day, and I don’t want to watch the same movie every day.
Q: Did you know anything about “Let Him Go” before that first reading?
A: No, but I was caught up right away because a lot happens in the first five minutes. There’s George and Margaret, and they’re in this beautiful bubble of being new grandparents, and the joy that brings, and there’s this sort of deep gratification that your love has manifested yet another generation of life. It’s just lovely. Then an almost merciless tragedy occurs. And later, when it’s revealed that our grandchild is in danger of harm, it becomes such a visceral necessity to protect this child.
Q: The whole cast got to rehearse on this film, which doesn’t happen a lot these days. Is rehearsing something you would always like to do?
A: Yes, because you strengthen the foundation you’re building on, and you strengthen the relationships and the collaboration between the actors. You commit to protecting each other in terms of how much of your cards are you going to show in rehearsal. Some people come in blazing, and you go, “Thank you! You really woke me up!” Yet other people want to pussyfoot around. But I don’t respect one more than the other. It’s a delicate dance to rehearse. You don’t want to achieve a hundred percent - that’s not the goal. The goal is to discuss the goals and to have a plan together that you feel unified about.
Q: I have one delicate question. This film is very violent, both physically and emotionally. It’s not gory and it’s not gratuitous, and all of the violence is done in service to the characters. But should viewers be made aware of how violent it is?
A: Here’s how I look at it. Watching this film, you’re having a journey, and you’re having it through these characters. But then they are essentially hijacked, and so are you, with them. So, you go through their shock and their horror with them. And it’s all done on a human scale. (pause) But, yes, it is fair to warn people that it gets violent.
“Let Him Go” opens in theaters on Nov. 6.
Ed Symkus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.