Diane Lane on Untraceable: The RT Interview

The actress on her FBI role, technophobia, and keeping perspective.

by | January 25, 2008 | Comments

Diane Lane

The Internet is the setting for methodical killings in Untraceable, the latest nail-biter from director Gregory Hoblit (Fracture, Primal Fear), but we already know cyberspace comes with its pros and cons. The good? Movie reviews at the click of a mouse (gratuitous self-promotion: check!). The bad? Identity theft, spam, and predators. But what if those offenders were also psychotic murderers, combining the anonymity of the internet and our inherently morbid curiosities to create a traffic-driven killing machine that inflicts more and more pain with each increasing page view?

In Untraceable, Diane Lane — one of the world’s most gorgeous forty-something actresses — goes into Jodie Foster mode as FBI Agent Jennifer Marsh, a cybercrimes specialist whose workload of kiddie porn cases and credit card frauds get pushed to the back burner when a Portland-area killer begins kidnapping people and webcasting their deaths, live on the internet. Rated R for gruesome violence, Untraceable indeed boasts a number of skin-crawling scenes but more importantly questions the limits of freedom in an age where anyone can broadcast anything without leaving a tangible trail.

For Lane, a self-described technophobe who lives quietly outside of Hollywood with actor Josh Brolin and their family, Untraceable is a foray into relatively new territory: the realm of the tough female enforcer. Though she’s been acting since the age of 13, hard-edged roles have been rare for Lane (save a turn opposite Wesley Snipes in 1997’s Murder at 1600) and, as she notes of her latest, “It’s not Must Love Dogs!”

Lane talked to RT at a roundtable interview about her pistol-packing role, societal desensitization to violence, the parity of realistic portrayals of women in movies, and what it’s like having not one, but two career revitalizations at the same time in one celebrity household.

Is this movie “torturetainment,” like Saw or Hostel?

Diane Lane: It’s not a horror movie; it’s a thriller…and I think if anybody’s [torturing people for fun onscreen] they deserve to be stopped by somebody as nice as me.

What was the appeal in playing this female FBI agent?

DL: I like the fact that she was a working woman, and that her job exists and she is real. The need for angels online to intervene with bad guys online is sad, but when I visited the FBI and spent time with this woman who was my role model, she was amazing. She dressed better, she had better hair, she looked great — she just carried herself with dignity, and with style. You could be anyone at a keyboard and a screen doing her job so it’s a non-ageist, non-sexist profession. And yet here she is, a mother of teenagers, the kids are doing great, and I was just very impressed with the need for her job and the fact that she was the one doing it.

So for me, that was a piece of information that I never had before. My references were all from the movies, and they didn’t look like her. I went and got the clothes that she was wearing, and they said “No, it’s too nice. You have to play it down a little, because maybe it’ll be distracting for the audience that FBI people dress well.”

Untraceable

What was it like spending time with the FBI?

DL: That was fun! That was the most fun I had in this experience, as you can imagine, but the preparation was really fun. The firearms training days — it’s fun firing off large ammunitions! — it has a thrill, [but] I found out I’m not a very good shot!

Were you shocked by some of the things that you ended up seeing on the internet in your research?

DL: Yes! I was very shocked. It validated my technophobia, and I’m back happy in blissful ignorance.

Do you let your children go online? That’s the scariest thing, isn’t it?

DL: You know, being a parent is just so fun these days. There’s an alternate universe that kids feel is theirs, they’re entitled to it, and it’s a great big world out there and they’re gonna inherit it anyway. So you try to instill a good Jiminy Cricket and hope that they make good choices. I’m just a tour guide.

No Country For Old Men has been criticized for being extremely violent, but the violence in that movie seemed subdued compared to Untraceable. What do you see in this culture about where movie violence is going, and your place in it as an actor?

DL: I think it’s a statement of our times, and I am a girl of my times. I don’t want to live in a bubble, in my craft or in the world…I can’t, I would be cheating myself out of my generation and the world we live in. I love how uncomfortable everyone is, because that tells me I made the right choice. I think comfort is kind of overrated, and if I’m worth my salt in this business it would be because of the diversity of roles I’ve been able to pull off, hopefully. I was thinking about all the different parts I’ve played recently, and I thought, that’s why I felt so challenged by the offer. Because it was kind of a dare, and I knew that if I didn’t do the film, someone else would.

I didn’t want to chicken out, because when I had my criteria in front of me, the main ones were it’s not misogynistic, it’s not a sexualized kind of negative message, and there’s no subjugation of women — the poster is not going to be offensive to me, and it’s not going to be out in front of a kids’ playground. This is an R picture; those [audiences] are the people that are entertained, and it’s the entertainment industry. I’m not in a ballet here! And even some ballets deal with pretty tough issues if you were to film it rather than do it poetically with pirouetting. So, this is this story, this is this movie, and it’s not Must Love Dogs!

Untraceable

What does the film’s premise — a killer sets up a website with death traps that run on the curiosity of viewers — say about society?

DL: I like the fact that it brings up debate on that subject. I like the fact that it raises some hackles and makes people afraid, because for ten bucks and two hours in the dark, you’re going to a thriller and you ought to be afraid. I like the fact that the premise was intelligent, within our time; I think ten years from now, we’ll have other concerns and this one will be in a bubble of current…nowness. So in that way it’s very zeitgeist-affiliated. But I remember different times and different concerns, and how of their time they were. I just watched this show recently with my kids, and we were looking at the Cold War bunkers that still exist, and the “high tech” things that we had to communicate with our allies; they made this thing [holds up a journalists’ recorder] look like it came from a space ship. And so, how we got here as a species — I marvel every day that we haven’t screwed up even worse.

Do you and your husband (Josh Brolin) read each others’ scripts and say, ‘I think this will be good for you?’

DL: No, but maybe we should! I think that’s where angels fear to tread, to come between an artist and his art, or an artisan and his craft, or somebody who’s got a wild hair to take a dare and do something that is out of character for some expectation. And in some ways that’s the very reason that you’d want to do it.

When No Country started causing a sensation, all of a sudden Josh got hot again…

DL: 24 years in the making…I know a little about that! Honestly, nothing changes. The topic of conversation is probably a little more work-oriented than before. But it sure feels great to be having success and reward for your work. I mean, it’s a crapshoot. Who knows when you’re going to be in a classic film, who knows if you’re going to be in a financially successful film, who knows if you’re going to be in a cult hit? Who knows if you’re gonna be in something nobody’s going to remember? Nobody intends to make…if they wanted to do it on purpose they would, all the time. So there’s an element of gratitude that goes with something fortuitous, and that’s good to have in the house. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, they say, and I agree.

Is there any trepidation that you’re carrying this movie, and that it might fail?

DL: Bring it on! What can I say? If there was trepidation, I guess I got over it because I did it, and there it is. I guess that’s one of those things where it’s sort of a greyhound race and I’m chasing a mechanical rabbit and I can’t really engage in that because it’s too objectified for me. For me, I don’t even like to promote my films but I have to because it’s in the fine print of my contract (smiling)…I just like to do the film, and then “oh, it’s coming out!” Some people track their movies; I just hide under a rock.

Untraceable is in theaters today.

Tag Cloud

Polls and Games Toys transformers Trailer Trivia Winter TV Teen Holidays Adult Swim Film Festival Lionsgate casting SundanceTV First Look IFC New York Comic Con Arrowverse USA Network Mindy Kaling Pride Month PaleyFest Spike romantic comedy Epix Baby Yoda spanish language ESPN Rom-Com Country kids cancelled supernatural RT History festivals Tarantino HBO Nat Geo Netflix harry potter Calendar Comedy DC streaming service 2019 Anna Paquin The Purge LGBTQ Amazon Prime TCA 2017 green book romance Awards Tour DGA Mudbound 45 richard e. Grant Apple spain GLAAD Esquire Superheroe Superheroes ITV Sneak Peek canceled TV shows Pixar Drama screenings streaming Grammys Nickelodeon Premiere Dates Pop foreign SXSW Video Games Song of Ice and Fire space Photos Stephen King movies Marvel Fox News Animation Martial Arts true crime elevated horror psycho A24 Food Network Holiday Hulu Elton John travel Chernobyl 21st Century Fox Vudu LGBT versus HBO Max blaxploitation Lucasfilm ABC Family Hallmark 007 strong female leads Syfy Family Sony Pictures name the review Shudder Music Creative Arts Emmys Awards The Walking Dead robots CW Seed AMC Opinion sports San Diego Comic-Con Fantasy TruTV Podcast NYCC TIFF stand-up comedy renewed TV shows Sundance TV MSNBC jamie lee curtis Crunchyroll Disney Plus zombie Columbia Pictures TLC doctor who Winners boxoffice Cartoon Network Hallmark Christmas movies Set visit CNN Christmas Trophy Talk Biopics game of thrones GoT Lifetime Christmas movies cancelled television social media Mary poppins political drama video Sci-Fi The CW quibi canceled CMT President A&E Academy Awards Best and Worst biography Action comic American Society of Cinematographers Countdown Watching Series See It Skip It Marathons Election Classic Film christmas movies Pirates Captain marvel Women's History Month Black Mirror spinoff Rocky TV Land comics police drama zero dark thirty E3 Sundance cars adaptation Kids & Family war hispanic Year in Review WGN BBC ratings mockumentary Super Bowl witnail BBC America Masterpiece anthology NBC First Reviews DC Comics singing competition Rock Warner Bros. Tomatazos series Nominations Writers Guild of America Heroines BET book Emmy Nominations based on movie politics Apple TV Plus dragons independent TV renewals TCA Amazon Prime Video YouTube Red Certified Fresh Western dramedy Mary Tyler Moore diversity Star Wars slashers spy thriller FXX binge Tubi blockbuster cults RT21 screen actors guild crime latino Comic Book cartoon medical drama crossover science fiction TCM natural history Interview adventure revenge Rocketman 2017 cinemax composers rotten movies we love USA directors CBS period drama Universal Disney streaming service Avengers thriller Horror Acorn TV DirecTV OneApp Endgame X-Men YouTube talk show discovery ghosts theme song Disney+ Disney Plus miniseries comiccon Thanksgiving spider-man TBS Musical Lifetime APB FX 2016 Paramount WarnerMedia dceu OWN Mary Poppins Returns Disney Channel TCA Winter 2020 indie mutant Freeform 2020 Comics on TV CBS All Access Box Office Brie Larson Peacock serial killer south america free movies docudrama cooking Star Trek Starz game show El Rey finale Turner Classic Movies television halloween sequel cops facebook Logo Ghostbusters Oscars Mystery Marvel Studios sag awards SDCC 20th Century Fox Amazon Ovation MTV historical drama reboot crime thriller cancelled TV shows TNT Bravo Sundance Now Cosplay E! ABC Turner tv talk Reality sitcom History Crackle dc Reality Competition Netflix Christmas movies PBS animated Showtime Ellie Kemper FOX Fall TV Comedy Central Cannes YA The Witch anime Television Academy 71st Emmy Awards Disney technology Summer cats Musicals award winner 2015 children's TV Britbox joker crime drama TV zombies breaking bad Film DC Universe toy story Chilling Adventures of Sabrina VH1 Spring TV teaser Infographic Character Guide Discovery Channel 2018 nature batman Walt Disney Pictures Shondaland GIFs Valentine's Day National Geographic Binge Guide IFC Films golden globes Tumblr justice league VICE hist Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt vampires YouTube Premium werewolf 24 frames Pet Sematary Paramount Network disaster Dark Horse Comics cancelled TV series The Arrangement psychological thriller Apple TV+ Emmys aliens Red Carpet Extras what to watch Quiz Spectrum Originals Marvel Television MCU unscripted Schedule