Once largely defined by the loopily loquacious character she played in 1977’s Annie Hall, Diane Keaton is these days making a name for herself as a relatable face and voice for women over 50. At 66, she’s the author of a well-received recent memoir and the spokeswoman for the Age Perfect line by L’Oréal Paris. On the big screen, she currently stars as an empty nester opposite Kevin Kline in the new film Darling Companion. In Toronto not long ago to promote Age Perfect’s latest serum, she spoke about her idol (Gloria Steinem), her weakness (pink lipstick) and the one word that lasting beauty boils down to.
The beauty industry has been broadening the range of the middle-aged looks it presents. Why do you think older is bolder right now?
The whole tone of getting older has changed entirely. When I think about what it was like for my mother and my grandmothers before my mother, there were so many rules about being older. It was like, well, when you get to be this age, you stop wearing shirtwaists. You know what I mean? You have to be more reserved. You go to greys and you wear suits that are unflattering. But now everything has completely changed. Women after the age of 50 are more independent today, and they want to have adventures. They want to experience life in a different way.
Who are your icons?
Gloria Steinem is one of my idols. She’s one of my role models, an absolute beauty but an authentic beauty. You know, I’ve never been married. But she’s a woman who married when she was  which to me says that, for the older woman, there are all kinds of possibilities that don’t end when you turn 50.
Where are you with the F word – feminism?
I am where I always was.
I completely support feminism – a woman’s right to work, a woman’s right to independence, equal pay for equal work, everything. I benefitted, immensely, from being an independent woman, and that was a gift that my mother gave to me. My mother was a great listener and, basically, through listening, she allowed me to find my voice.
You became a L’Oréal face in 2008. How is that role different from others you have played?
When I’m in the movies or on television, I memorize my lines. It’s not my voice or my thoughts; it’s playing somebody else and interpreting it, adding myself to the role. It’s a very different role to play to represent a cosmetics company because I have my own thoughts about cosmetics and about L’Oréal. To me, it’s a different kind of a dream come true.
How did the opportunity arise?
[After appearing in]Nancy Meyers’s movie Something’s Gotta Give – which was a great story for older women – I got together with Carol Hamilton, who was [a]president of L’Oréal at the time. She was looking for a spokesperson, and she chose me. And I think she chose me because of that movie. I really do.
You are not known as a highly made-up kind of person – a leftover from your Annie Hall days, perhaps. What is beauty to you? And glamour? How do you indulge them?
You know, I’m not a glamour type but I am very involved with cosmetics. I like to look as good as I possibly can. My beauty regimen is kind of basic. I wash my face every day and now I’m putting on the [Hydra-Nutrition Daily]serum. It kind of tingles and then softens your face. Then I put on my makeup. But my main thing, my obsession, is with lipstick. I’m totally into lipstick. When you think about yourself, you ask yourself, what is my best feature? And right now about the only thing I feel really confident about is my smile. That’s what I think is the good part about my face. And what I like to do is enhance my smile. So I have my little laboratory at home where all I do is mix and match lipsticks. I’m into pink now and I like to take Tender Pink and throw a little Nude at it; if it’s later in the day, I’ll put in some of my Tuberose to add more colour. It’s fun. It’s sort of like art, the art of who you are. I think, primarily, cosmetics are about feeling good about yourself. And a lot of feeling good about yourself is not thinking about yourself too much and allowing yourself to go with the flow. I remember I had just done Annie Hall, and I was famous for the first time, and people would come up to me occasionally and say, “Don’t ever change.” And I remember at the time thinking, What? Are you kidding? Don’t change? What are you possibly saying? I thought it was crazy because you should be free to experience the full spectrum of whatever you can experience in your life and, to me, that’s beauty. Beauty is change.