The Complete Evolution Of Diane Lane

The unbelievably talented and stunning Diane Lane, born January 22nd, 1965, has been a successful leading lady of cinema since the late '70s. In her decades-long career, the Oscar, Golden Globe, and Emmy Award nominee has worked alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood and been a part of both indie films and blockbusters alike. You might know Lane from her debut role in "A Little Romance," "The Outsiders," and "Man of Steel." If animation is more your thing, she voiced the mom in "Inside Out," proving her versatility and ability to blend seamlessly into countless roles.

Given her rise to fame early in life as a child actor, Lane has grown up in front of the camera, aged incredibly gracefully, and amassed an admirable fortune, all while maintaining a mostly controversy-free public image. From fashion to charity and theater to film, Lane is an icon in every sense of the word and she continues to amaze us with her down-to-earth persona and brilliant acting chops. How has this Hollywood starlet transformed over the years, from bright-eyed and bushy-tailed child star to one of the most iconic actresses of our time? Here is the complete evolution of Diane Lane.

Diane Lane had a complicated relationship with her parents

The relationships child stars have with their parents are seldom uncomplicated, and Diane Lane's was no different. Her parents came from the entertainment industry themselves. Her mother, Colleen Farrington, was a singer, Playboy centerfold, game show co-host, and aspiring actress; Lane's father, Burt Lane, was an acting teacher in New York, and later became a cab driver. She wasn't even two weeks old when her mother filed for divorce in Mexico, then moved to Georgia. From then on, it was just Lane and her father living in hotels and driving in his cab. In a 1989 interview with People, her father said, "We were like Siamese twins. She was this angelic, perfect child." He eventually became Lane's manager.

When she was 15, Lane ran away with a friend from New York to Los Angeles and, when she returned, no longer spoke to her father and instead lived with another friend. Lane and her mother had rekindled their relationship, but one day, while on her way to school, Farrington ambushed her. Lane was led to a car where a man was waiting and she was kidnapped. "All she wanted to do was talk to me, but I was too busy freaking out because she was driving me to Georgia against my will," Lane told People. The pair didn't speak for a few years following the incident, but later made amends.

She began acting at age 6

At the age of six, Diane Lane's father put her on stage with the La MaMa Experimental Theater Club where she performed in her first play, "Medea." As she told the New York Times, "There was an ad in The Village Voice asking for a girl, age 7 to 11, to play one of the children in the La MaMa production of 'Medea.' My dad said, 'You want to be in a play?' I didn't know what a play was. I didn't even see movies. It was cartoons and 'Romper Room' for me."

Lane says she lied about her age, saying she was seven instead of six, and ultimately got the part. She spouted out her lines in Greek, and after clearly impressing her audience, continued to appear in many more theater productions over the next few years. Among those were "Electra," Shakespeare's "As You Like It," "The Trojan Women," "The Cherry Orchard," and "Runaways." In an interview with Time, Lane said, "I didn't want to be acting for that much of my childhood. So I'm conflicted. I don't know if I want to be a lifer."

Diane Lane was dubbed the next Grace Kelly as a teen

Lane made a name for herself onstage early on, and it wasn't long until she began venturing into other fields, including film and television. At just 12 years old, she was discovered by director George Roy Hill, who was known for his movies "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Sting" at the time. He cast Lane in her debut film, "A Little Romance," which shot her into Hollywood fame. Her co-star on the film, Laurence Olivier, was so moved by her performance that he even coined the young actress "the next Grace Kelly," according to The Guardian.

This profound success found her on the cover of Time magazine, next to the headline, "Hollywood's Whiz Kids." Lane spoke with CBS News about the sudden fame she found at 14 years old. Addressing Olivier's claim, she said, "No pressure there, right?" She continued, "I felt embarrassed, like, wow, will I ever be able to live up to it?"

Fortunately, she mostly did. Lane went on to star in many more movies following her role in "A Little Romance," including a handful of films from renowned director Francis Ford Coppola. With the exception of a few years in the '80s when she took some time off after the film "The Cotton Club," which garnered an abysmal reception from audiences, the actress has grown her filmography consistently.

Her grades suffered due to her busy schedule

Today, there are several laws in Hollywood that dictate how long children can work and that they must continue their schooling, even if it's on set. But back in Diane Lane's day, things were a little different. The actress told Esquire, "The play every night, school every day — it just became more than my little body could do ... The school put me on notice that they were going to kick me out if I didn't get my grades up. I told my dad I didn't want to be an actress anymore. I really wanted to go to school and be normal."

Lane explained that she was interested in having an impact on the world outside of show business, particularly in ecology. But that dream got tossed aside when she accepted her role in "A Little Romance," because, as she admitted, "'How could you turn down Olivier?' That's what my dad said. That's been my life ever since." Unfortunately for the actress, school only became more difficult to prioritize, as she took Hollywood by storm before she had even turned 18.

She dated Jon Bon Jovi

Did Diane Lane give love a bad name? Well, only the actress and Jon Bon Jovi know for certain, as the couple dated for about five months back in 1985 and little is actually known about their time together. However, while on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" in 2017, Lane spoke highly of her brief time with the rock star. "I was 20 and I think every girl should have such a wonderful experience when she's that young," she said.

But the real question everyone wanted to know was whether she was the inspiration behind "You Give Love a Bad Name." Speaking to Esquire, Lane said she absolutely wasn't. "I never wear red nail polish," she said, referring to the lyrics of the song, "Blood red nails on your fingertips." Lane and Bon Jovi's relationship was many years ago, and he ended up marrying his wife of more than two decades, Dorothea Bongiovi. In fact, the couple met in high school but only got together after Lane and Bon Jovi broke up.

Diane Lane has been a fashion icon since the '80s

Ever since she walked her first red carpet, eyes have been on Diane Lane and eager fashion watchers have asked who she was wearing. Not only has the actress shown flawless attention to who her designers are, but she seems to look polished everywhere she goes. In 2017, Lane called on two stylists to help her pull off a glamorous and elegant look for Elton John's AIDS gala, which was celebrating its 25th anniversary. Her representative told Page Six, "The Estrada Twins have gotten to know her over the past year." The long sleeve, V-neck gown Lane wore to the event was custom made and featured a stunning overlay and complex, floral beading.

In a 2017 interview with Vogue, Lane gave her take on beauty and her chic style. "[Beauty] is about allowing for spontaneity — which is almost a dirty word in America," she said. Later, she gave her best fashion advice, saying, "Even if you only have two and a half outfits ... make sure to allow for individuality. Don't try to take a vacation from yourself when you're on vacation." Now 58 years old, and with plenty of other gorgeous up-and-coming actresses staking their claim on the red carpet, Lane is still proving that she is a fashion icon, and she doubtlessly always will be.

She had a daughter with actor Christopher Lambert

Diane Lane dated a lot in the '80s, but has typically kept schtum when it comes to the details of her romances. Not much information has been shared about her relationship with French actor Christopher Lambert, but Lane did provide some backstory to Esquire. "It wasn't love and it wasn't lust, but it was sure something. I used to joke with Christopher, 'I'm marrying you for all the things that I'm avoiding, not for what I'm getting,'" she said.

She revealed that their sex life was practically nonexistent, as Lambert was gone so often, with Lane saying, "I found the absolutely least likely person on the planet Earth to give me what I needed." They were married for six years, divorcing soon after they had their daughter, Eleanor Lambert, in 1993. Lane remarked, "I realized that everything could go, but if I had [my daughter], that was all that was important."

The actress spoke with the Washington Post in 2018 about raising Eleanor away from the spotlight. "It was just a consistent way of living. The people who get paparazzi attention all the time are the people who put themselves where the paparazzi are. It ain't rocket science," she quipped. Whether she was protecting her daughter from the tabloids or was haunted by her own upbringing, she made certain that Eleanor was always safe, raising her daughter as a single mom whom the paparazzi always wanted a piece of.

She was almost cast in Pretty Woman

Everybody knows "Pretty Woman," the classic (and yes, perhaps a little outdated) romcom starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. If Diane Lane had gone down a different path, we would know her as the lead in that film. The actress explained that when she originally wanted the part of Vivian Ward, the film was meant to be much darker and complex, so she passed on the opportunity. On "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen," Lane said, "Everybody in town went for that role and at that time ... it was a very different show, it kind of got, there's a verb, got Disneyfied. And what happened was, it turned out to be a feel-good movie."

"Pretty Woman" wasn't the only hugely successful film Lane passed on, either. "Splash" and "Risky Business" had her name on them, but she went in another direction and, while she partly regrets these decisions, she gave the Washington Post her insight: "Isn't the road to madness pondering the road not taken?"

Diane Lane became frustrated with being typecast

Hollywood was far from writing good female parts back when Diane Lane was starting out. After playing stereotypes for years, the actress eventually got tired of it — as many would. In 2018, Lane discussed her frustration over being typecast with The Guardian. Noting that she was thankful to never again have to utter the line, "He'll kill us if he finds us," she said, "I don't ever want to say that again, because it's always coming from this 'clandestine-affair woman'." Lane added that more recently, women over the age of 40 are being granted more space to expand into characters that have more depth. "It's a relief to be the protagonist, instead of the girlfriend," she remarked.

This is increasingly true, with the rising demand for Hollywood to rely less on one-dimensional characters and moviegoers using the Bechdel test, which analyzes whether a film portrays its female roles in sexist or stereotypical ways. Unfortunately, Lane's career began before these demands in the film industry were met, but she isn't upset about it. "I don't feel angry or abused. I just feel like I had a lot of colors, and they really only wanted three of them," she said.

Her marriage to Josh Brolin lasted eight years

Diane Lane's other famous marriage lasted nearly a decade, as she wed Josh Brolin at his ranch in Los Angeles on August 15th, 2004. Sadly, their relationship became tumultuous and just four months after tying the knot, Brolin was arrested for domestic abuse. Lane reportedly never filed charges and the couple went back to their lives together.

In October 2010, Lane spoke with Ladies Home Journal (via Yahoo!), saying, "At my own peril I will quote Mae West, who said, 'Getting married is like trading in the adoration of many for the sarcasm of one.' I embrace that. Bring it on. Because that's what intimacy is: It's a willingness to be vulnerable, a willingness to bite my tongue, and a willingness to set an example of what I believe in. And it's hard."

Then, in February 2013, their divorce was officially announced. Representatives for the couple told Us Weekly, "Diane Lane and Josh Brolin have decided to end their marriage. It was a mutual decision. It is very amicable. It's not ugly, it's just over." As publicly as it began, it ended with the media desperate to know what caused the downfall of Lane and Brolin's relationship. In 2018, when asked by the New York Times to go into depth about the night of his arrest, Brolin stated, "The only person who can explain that would be Diane, and she's chosen not to, so I'm okay with that."

She supported her daughter's decision to get into acting

Having grown up in front of an audience, Diane Lane knows the challenges that come along with being a child actor. In her 2018 interview with the Washington Post, it was revealed that Lane would later be attending her daughter Eleanor Lambert's Broadway play, "The Lifespan of a Fact." In speaking about her daughter's decision to become an actress, she said, "I'm so glad she waited to be ready on her own terms. Because I was hijacked."

Lane has made her feelings about child stardom known many times, and her reasons for supporting Eleanor's dreams now that she's reached a more mature age are justified. Speaking with Willie Geist on Today, Lane said, "It's all luck, or some person in the background who's a marionette and you're the puppet and ... there's strings being pulled that allow you to have good fortune, compared to somebody else."

Eleanor has found success thus far as a model, and she is now pursuing her passion of acting both on stage and on the screen, much like her mother. Having taken on roles in a handful of movies, shorts, and one-off appearances on television shows, we can tell she's on the up.

Diane Lane is still working as an actress and humanitarian

Diane Lane has been in the entertainment industry for more than five decades, and she's showing no signs of stopping (or even slowing down). The actress has managed to convey practically every emotion and be believable in nearly any genre in her longstanding career. 

Lane told Insider in 2020 about how she strives for new and interesting roles. "It's nice to find something unexpected and fresh. I see a lot more narratives of the female experience that is not just the ingénue one — obviously because I'm still working," she said with a laugh. "So I have no desire to repeat myself. No. I like the diversity of experience to have in my line of work. It's energizing." As of 2023, you can catch Lane on the Apple TV+ series "Extrapolations."

Lane has also used her platform to make a difference, as she always dreamed of doing as a girl, where she often discusses important causes and charities that she cares about. Lane has been a longtime supporter of Heifer International, a charity that works to eradicate world hunger, and in a 2021 interview with Today, Lane spoke passionately about climate change. "We need laws to catch up to the reality of our planet," she said.