The thing that excited Diane Keaton most about her character in Callie Khouri’s comic heist picture Mad Money was that Bridget, an upper middle class housewife suddenly confronted with her fiscal mortality, discovered enough backbone and drive to become the brains behind a plan to rob the Federal Reserve Bank with the help of two other women, played by Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes.
“My character, she kind of loses her way, kind of loses herself behind the cash, but then she sort of learns a lesson,” Keaton reflects at a Los Angeles press event for the film. “I think she’s completely sympathetic, and I never thought about if she was likable or not. I’m a woman of a certain age, and people think you’re supposed to just roll over and give up on life, and I think, hey, you know what? Forget it.
“It doesn’t just have to be just, like, ‘It’s over. I got my liberal arts degree and nobody wants me and I can’t help my husband.’ To me, all she ever aspired to was to be in the country club set, and what was that? That was so lame. She needed something to shake up her life. She needed something to make her more empathetic because now her life has expanded into seeing how extraordinary these people are who she got together with. These two other women. Who she never would have gotten to know, from different generations, from different walks of life.”
As for Dana Owens — a.k.a. Queen Latifah — she doesn’t imagine herself making the same decisions as her character in the film: “Dana would never do this. Dana got some damn sense.” She also sees the character of Bridget differently.
“Diane’s character has a sense of entitlement. She’s not used to dealing with money, she doesn’t really get it — all the finances in the house. She’s raised the kids, but she hasn’t been a bill-balancing kind of homemaker — her husband has done most of that. She doesn’t realize that you may be flat broke, and when you are you might have to sell that house. She just can’t fathom changing her lifestyle like that.”
While filming in Shreveport, La., the actresses found the set under siege by hordes of paparazzi trying to get shots of Holmes, her husband Tom Cruise and new baby — an intrusive phenomenon that Keaton says didn’t exist when she rose to stardom, and which puts a whole new pressure on young actresses like Holmes.
“With Katie it’s kind of like movie royalty,” Keaton says. “Every time you go out there you’re being observed and scrutinized and you have to handle it. You have to take on so much more than the fun and adventure of being an actress ... And what about the fuckin’ Internet, where there’s pictures everywhere and people are talking about you all the time, and you have to deal with it. It builds character — if you can hack it.”
Mad Money opens today.