An actress holds the middle ground

Keaton talks about her 'separate little genre'

Diane Keaton has had plenty of experience with films about family conflict, ranging from “The Godfather” trilogy to fluffier fare like “The First Wives Club.”

Keaton’s latest, “The Family Stone,” puts it right in the title. In this one, she plays a strong-willed New England matriarch who continually butts heads with the new uptight girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker) of her son (Dermot Mulroney). To make matters worse, the young couple’s visit home coincides with Christmas.

As Keaton explains it, the film is neither just a comedy nor just a drama, and it walks a “delicate line” between drama, big emotional scenes and flat-out comedy. It’s an approach that suits her.

“I’ve always been sort of in the middle,” she says. “I’ve never really been a comedian’s comedian, and I’m not really a dramatic actress either. I’ve always straddled the middle. So I’m sort of funny, sometimes, and kind of dramatic, sometimes. I’m just sort of there. I guess I have a separate little genre, and this just fit the bill.”

Which is not to say she is similar to the Stones matriarch. “I’m not like Sybil, but I could relate to all her worrying,” says Keaton. “I’m anxious about a lot of things. I worry a lot. I worry about my kids, of course. That’s No. 1, and I have issues with that and I’m very concerned about that. And I have conflicts all the time. Am I making the right decision about this? And I think that’s universal.”

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