Diane Lane was born on January 22, 1965, in New York. She is the daughter of acting coach Burton Eugene “Burt” Lane and nightclub singer/centerfold Colleen Farrington. Her parents’ families were both from the state of Georgia. Diane was acting from a very young age and made her stage debut at the age of six. Her work in such acclaimed theater productions as “The Cherry Orchard” and “Medea” led to her being called to Hollywood. She was 13 when she was cast by director George Roy Hill in his wonderful 1979 film A Little Romance (1979), opposite Sir Laurence Olivier. The film only did so-so commercially, but Olivier praised his young co-star, calling her the new Grace Kelly. After her well-received debut, Diane found herself on magazine covers all over the world, including “Time”, which declared her the “new young acting sensation”. However, things quietened down a bit when she found herself in such critical and financial flops as Touched by Love (1980), Cattle Annie and Little Britches (1981), Movie Madness (1982), Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1982) and, most unmemorably, Six Pack (1982), all of which failed to set her career on fire.
She also made several TV movies during this period, but it was in 1983 that she finally began to fulfill the promise of stardom that had earlier been predicted for her. Acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola took note of Diane’s appeal and cast her in two “youth”-oriented films based on S.E. Hinton novels. Indeed, Rumble Fish (1983) and The Outsiders (1983) have become cult classics and resulted in her getting a loyal fan base. The industry was now taking notice of Diane Lane, and she soon secured lead roles in three big-budget studio epics. She turned down the first, Splash (1984) (which was a surprise hit for Daryl Hannah). Unfortunately, the other two were critical and box-office bombs: Walter Hill’s glossy rock ‘n’ roll fable Streets of Fire (1984) was not the huge summer success that many had thought it would be, and the massively troubled Coppola epic The Cotton Club (1984) co-starring Richard Gere was also a high-profile flop. The back-to-back failure of both of these films could have ended her career there and then — but thankfully it didn’t. Possibly “burned out” by the lambasting these films received and unhappy with the direction her career was taking, she “retired” from the film business at age 19, saying that she had forgotten what she had started acting for. She stayed away from the screen for the next three years. Ironically, the two films that were the main causes of her “retirement” have since grown in popularity, and “Streets of Fire” especially seems to have found the kind of audience it couldn’t get when it was first released.
The process of rebuilding her career was a slow and gradual one. First came the obscure and very sexy straight-to-video thriller Lady Beware (1987), followed by the critically acclaimed but little seen The Big Town (1987) with Matt Dillon and Tommy Lee Jones. In the former, Diane plays a very mysterious and sexy stripper and her memorable strip sequence is a highlight of the film. Despite her sexy new on-screen image, it wasn’t until 1989’s smash hit TV mini-series Lonesome Dove (1989) that Diane made another big impression on a sizable audience. Her performance in the hugely popular and critically acclaimed western epic as a vulnerable “whore with a heart” won her an Emmy nomination and much praise. Film producers were interested in her again. Another well-received TV production, Descending Angel (1990), was followed by smaller roles in major films like Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin (1992) and Mike Binder’s Indian Summer (1993), and larger parts in small independent films like My New Gun (1992), Vital Signs (1990) and Knight Moves (1992). Indeed, the latter two films co-starred her then-husband, Christopher Lambert, with whom she had a daughter named Eleanor.
Diane was now re-established in Hollywood and started to appear in higher-profile co-starring roles in some big-budget, major movies like Walter Hill’s Wild Bill (1995), the Sylvester Stallone actioner Judge Dredd (1995), the Robin Williams’s comedy Jack (1996) and Murder at 1600 (1997) co-starring Wesley Snipes. However, all of these still did not quite make Diane a “big-name star” and, by 1997, she found herself, possibly by choice, back in smaller, personal projects.
Her next role as a frustrated 1960s housewife in the independent hit A Walk on the Moon (1999) deservedly won her rave notices and, at last, gave her career the big lift it needed. The cute but tear-jerking comedy My Dog Skip (2000) also proved to be a small-scale success. However, it was the £330-million worldwide grossing blockbuster hit The Perfect Storm (2000) that finally made Diane Lane the household name that she always should have been.
After the worldwide success of “The Perfect Storm”, she was more in demand than ever. She played Leelee Sobieski’s sinister junkie guardian in the slick thriller The Glass House (2001), and co-starred with Keanu Reeves in the #1 smash hit Hardball (2001). However, her greatest career moment was still to come with her lead role in the enormous critical and commercial hit Unfaithful (2002), in which she superbly portrayed Richard Gere’s adulterous wife. Her performance won the respect of critics and audiences alike, as well as many awards and nominations including Best Actress Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.
Her follow-up films including Under the Tuscan Sun (2003), Must Love Dogs (2005), Hollywoodland (2006), Secretariat (2010), and the blockbuster, Man of Steel (2013), were all received and her performances were highly praised. She won further Best Actress Golden Globe nominations for her roles in Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) and Cinema Verite (2011).
She is very well regarded within the industry, adored by film fans, and has a credibility and quality that is all too rare today. Her immense talent at playing human and real characters, her “drop dead gorgeous” beauty and down-to-earth grittiness guarantees that she will stay on top, and she guarantee has already shown the kind of resilience that will keep her working for a long, long time.
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