Diane Keaton revels in age-defying comedy ‘Mack & Rita’

An enduring, iconic American movie star, Diane Keaton is doing something “strange and maybe weird” with her fantastical new comedy “Mack & Rita.”

Mack (Elizabeth Lail) is a young woman who doesn’t feel part of her contemporary scene and looks to her late granny as inspiration. When she steps into a carnival tent and is asked if she wants to focus on “rebirth,” something snaps and she’s suddenly reborn as spry 70-year-old Rita!

Keaton not only stars but also produced the picture with its message of self-empowerment at any age vividly expressed. Equally presented, Rita’s style-setting, boundary-breaking outfits that are actually vintage items from Keaton’s closet.

In a phone interview from her California home while feeding her dog, Keaton, 76, explained, “I’ve worked with (producer) Alex Katz a few times – and she’s really good.

“We had this script and it was good. We made it better and put it together and it did alright. I mean, we were able to make a movie out of it.”

Keaton will always be known for her best actress Oscar-winning “Annie Hall” role and as Kay, the WASP wife of Michael Corleone in “The Godfather Saga.” She’s had three other Oscar nominations, won two Golden Globes while zealously maintaining a private life raising two children.

“I like working. I mean, that particular part of working when you act and they have to adhere to whatever you’re saying or doing in the scene,” she said.

She “enjoyed” playing Rita, who blossoms as an internet celebrity and unexpected role model.

“I thought it was interesting, strange and maybe weird. But it was that kind of a comedy and so I was really happy to do it.”

If there’s never been anyone quite like her in Hollywood, there are parallels with another equally talented, equally formidable and equally stylish star: Katharine Hepburn.

Did she see Hepburn as inspiration, role model?

“She always has been somebody who I respected and, of course, just honored to be in any realm with her.

“She was my favorite always because she was tough and funny, smart and sassy and just kind of unusual when I was young. Imagine somebody like her.”

They both defined a unique personal style.

“Katharine Hepburn created that character of hers. And she utilized it all the time.

“I remember walking down the street in New York and I ran into her. She was walking forward because it was in the neighborhood where she had a house — and I just remember being in awe of her.”

Did she stop and talk?

“Are you kidding? I would be mortified.”

“Mack & Rita” opens Aug 12 in theaters.

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