• Golden Globe Awards

Oral History: Diane Keaton on Religion

When HFPA journalists interviewed Diane Keaton in 2001 about the movie Sister Mary Explains It All, where she played a nun, she talked about religion, heaven and hell.
“I have not had much contact with nuns, except to see them in Fellini films, but Sister Mary didn’t think that the Catholic Church really held up on its promise, which was that it would never change. She is enraged about Pope John XXIII and all of these changes that have liberalized the church, because when she signed on she took it at heart value, she really embraced those set of rules and principles and she never varied, but the church had the audacity to keep changing them. “
“Then her students, whom she had hoped to imbue with all of these lessons in their lives, come back and provoke her into going insane. One of them has had an abortion, which is, of course, a mortal sin. One has had children outside of marriage, which is a mortal sin. One is a homosexual, which is a mortal sin. So it isn’t like she succeeded very well in her tasks. She is really angry, it’s all driving her crazy, she is right there on the edge and she plunges into the abyss, but she is a victim in a way.”
“Religion is not a big part of my life. My father was an Irish Catholic and my mother was a Methodist, when I was a little girl in the 50s, but when the 60s arrived they had dropped religion and moved on. It was a different time and they stopped going to church. I think they were right. “
“I was raised religious but not Catholic, and I don’t believe in hell, I can’t really accept hell as a concept at all, that kind of punishment is absurd. I made a movie about heaven many years ago and that really cleared it up for me. It’s very simple, why on earth would people have to burn for all eternity? Why would there be such a place as hell, for any of us? First of all I can’t even visualize it, the concept is so abstract, then nobody deserves it, ever. So, I just don’t believe that.”
“The thing about the Catholic Church for me is that it gets mired in all of these details and it is hard to understand anything because it is so dense. I mean, the whole notion of eating fish on Friday versus meat and what will happen to you if you don’t. You get so bogged down by all the details that you don’t think of all the simple things. I believe that people have a responsibility to learn to think for themselves, and that rules are frequently confusing.”