With Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice getting released this weekend around the world, the other day I sat down with Diane Lane for an exclusive interview about the film. During our wide-ranging conversation she talked about memorable moments from filming, if she likes to see her work in the editing room or when the film is done, how she deals with people asking her about spoilers, if she’s ever wanted to direct, getting to be part of Pete Docter’s Inside Out, and more.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice also stars Henry Cavill, Laurence Fishburne, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, and Scoot McNairy.
On last thing before the interview…the best way to see this movie is in IMAX. A number of scenes were shot using IMAX cameras and they’re amazing to watch on the big screen. Trust me, see this movie in IMAX.
Collider: I asked you at the press conference for memorable moments from filming, but I’m going to go backwards and say with Man of Steel. When you think back on the making of that one, is there anything that really stands out?
DIANE LANE: Hanging out and waiting in the sweltering heat in the tent, and having air conditioning being pumped toward Henry [Cavill] who was sitting in a chair in his costume –I don’t know, is it a uniform? It’s a costume if you’re an actor, but I don’t mean it as a costume if you’re Superman, I mean it as his… did it get pre-packed from his planet? I never got to ask him where he got the outfit, I just got to complement him on it in the first film. So, there he is in his regalia, and I don’t know if he was texting or something, and it just felt so surreal for a moment, and it was just this “pinch-myself” moment of unlikeliness. That we’re in a tent, in a corn field, sweltering heat of Illinois pretending it’s Kansas, and that was the most indelible moment. Because what happens between action and cut for me is a blur, I go almost into a whiteout, and then I see the film and I’m like, “Oh that’s what I did? Cool!” Because that’s the nature of what I do, the same thing happens live on stage. There’s no net and I’m in freefall and praying hard [Laughs] and lines are coming out of my mouth, it’s like that sometimes. Because you’re so in it that you don’t know you’re in it and you don’t know where North is on the compass. So there was this quiet moment, and at that time I believe he was engaged and his fiancée was there with him and I thought, “She’s having a more surreal moment than I am.”
It’s interesting because I’ve spoken with a lot of actors that want to talk to the director when they’re editing to sort of talk about their performance, and some people don’t wanna know anything until they see the finished film. How are you?
LANE: Are you talking about a director who’s informing me as an actor about the edits that have been done on the film?
Not that so much, but from what I’ve understood –I’m not an actor– sometimes you’ll give a performance a few different ways, a certain take, so you don’t really know because your whole performance is being crafted in the editing room. So, some actors I’ve spoken to are like, “Hey what are you doing, can I come by and see what’s going on?” and some actors are like, “I don’t wanna see it until I see it.”
LANE: No, I prefer –I’m a painter, that’s where I started out, at four years old, that was my first love as far as expression. So, I’m not a painter in the sense of, “Please come see my paintings” [Laughs] but, I do understand the value of not looking over the artist’s shoulder while the work is in progress. So I would identify with the director at that point and feel vulnerable and defensive and I just wouldn’t out of respect for everybody else in the film in terms of the editor, the music, the color timing, all the special effects, I could go on, but you know, every department that’s part of the post-production. Out of respect for them I wouldn’t want to see it until it was done.
I’m always curious with actor how their process has changed over the years. Do you have a routine that you do for all of your roles or does it just depend on the project?
LANE: I think it depends on the project. I mean, you hope to obtain this mind meld and sometimes I feel like I’m chasing a horse holding on to its tail and getting dragged, and other times I feel much more velcroed into the saddle. And I’m not the knower of which is better or best as a process, it’s just as random as the weather in terms of what my subjective experience is. I can’t get a handle on it, it’s a ball of mercury, so I have to allow for that, anything is possible. It could be torturous or it could be joyous and I have no way of knowing, it’s funny the things that turn out to be joyous, I can tell you that [Laughs].
When you are in a movie like Batman v Superman and you are gonna be on the screen with Batman, do you all of a sudden have a lot more friends and family saying they’d like to visit you on set?
LANE: Agents. No, honestly, that would be more about location, agents tend to come around with the, “Oh you’re filming in Paris? I’ll be visiting”. Kansas, not so much, or wherever we faked Kansas I should say, I don’t wanna give Kansas a bad name, but out in the sweltering corn field. So, no, it’s a very closed set and I don’t ever like to make –I don’t know, I like the sacredness of the space, of the work space, I’m uncomfortable bringing anyone around that I feel that I have to host. Does that make sense?
LANE: That’s a very different role, to be hosting than it is to be engaged with what’s going on. Now, if I were doing a series or if it were more a third installment and I’m working with the same people, that kind of thing, you get a little less…I don’t know what the word is.
More accommodating maybe.
LANE: Yeah. Less insecure about being respectful of the vibe and all that.
You guys shot this a while ago and it’s been in post with all the special effects that had to be added. How much has it been people asking, “Tell me some secrets” and how much has it been people knowing, “don’t even bother, I’m not gonna tell you a thing”?
LANE: It’s definitely the latter. And also, I’ve become a bit phobic of the word secret because it’s like Pandora’s Box, I call it a surprise, because that is truthfully more representative of what we’re offering. It’s meant to be experienced, it’s not meant to be –You want to bite into something and be surprised by what it is, rather than, “There’s peanut butter in there!” Damn, now I’m all about the peanut butter and I’m expecting that and it taints everything and I gauge how much there is. So yeah, nobody’s getting anything out of me.
You mentioned earlier you’ve been painting since you were four…
LANE: Well I wouldn’t call it painting at that point but it was fun and the end result was technically a painting [Laughs].
Sure, but you’ve done a lot of movies and you’ve worked in a facets of the industry…
LANE: Are you telling me to move on? [Laughs].
No, I’m asking if you’ve ever directed or have ever wanted to direct.
LANE: I have such a cliché answer to that question, affirmatively.
Well, have you ever come close to being like, “You know, this material is something that really speaks to me”?
LANE: I back-seat drive some directors sometimes [Laughs] and that makes them nuts. I’m half kidding, I had one director once who was very perturbed by how much I noticed was going on on the set. Whether it’s the lighting or the set dressing or how well the air was being wafted to get the certain quality when they want the room smoky, all these things, I think I’ve been around so much in film sets that I know everybody’s niche. I think certainly directing is a visual medium, but it’s also about communication, and a lot of times great directors are lacking in communication skills, which is rather shocking to discover that.
I’ve heard this from other people.
LANE: Yeah. It’s not newsflash. So I wonder, I like to imagine that I’m a good director, but I remember one of my favorite experiences was doing A Walk on the Moon that was directed by Tony Goldwyn which was his first film as a director, and coming from his point of view from his experience as an actor he was so generous and so informative and so engaged and so thrilled and so involved that I actually had to get him to back off a little tiny bit and trust us. I used to say, “Just let me take a whack at it, take one, and then come in and correct me” because I’d be filled with so much anticipation of him coming in with his enthusiasm that it would throw me off my original intention. And I say that with great love and respect, because I’m very proud of that film and that’s all to his credit.
My last question for you. I absolutely love Inside Out…
LANE: Aww so did I, it was my favorite movie of last year.
I love it, I think it’s amazing.
LANE: I cried, I laughed. Pete Docter’s a genius isn’t he?
He really is, you’ve been a part of that and Riley’s First Date?¸what does it all mean to you being a part of all that?
LANE: It’s so much larger than my understanding, in the fan base of animated films and all that. To me I just feel like I am ridiculously blessed and I pinch myself a lot because not only did I fall uphill and get asked to the party in a Pixar film, it was that Pixar film. One of my favorite parts of myself is my motherhood aspect, it just turned out to be the best thing about my life [Laughs], the most rewarding and deepening, so I have a delight in portraying mothers. Most of our species does procreate hence we become parents, hence I don’t think that there’s a stigma about me portraying somebody at my age who has a kid and I’m their parent. Having said that, I feel the same way about this, people use the word franchise which to me sort of is an ugly word, I don’t know why, I think it diminishes –I don’t know, I think about French fries when I hear franchise, my brain, it’s ramshackle in there. If I was ever going to be claimed or branded by that word, I would be so happy for it to be in this because it’s the only one I know anything about. I grew up watching Wonder Woman, I grew up watching Batman, I grew up watching George Reeves as Superman. I qualify, I’m so delighted! Because I would be faking it and having to act a lot, more than I am in this. I could just show up suit up and –By the way, the Martha [Kent] costume is not on display here and I’m deeply wounded for that because there’s a lot going on under the garments that no one appreciates. Anyway, all joking aside, I’m just tickled pink and I feel very vindicated that I can say I qualify as a fanboy now.