Actress Diane Lane takes us behind the scenes of her new movie for HBO.
“Whenever something’s done for the first time,” Diane Lane says, “it’s brave, crazy, and cool—and it’s shunned.” In Cinema Verite, which dramatizes the making of the seminal 1973 PBS documentary An American Family, Lane plays Pat, the matriarch of the Loud clan, which suffered the fallout from starring in what was, in retrospect, America’s first reality-TV show. In the HBO film, which debuts April 23, the creator and mastermind behind the original series, Craig Gilbert (James Gandolfini)—with whom Pat became emotionally entangled during filming—is seen pulling the strings, encouraging Pat to divorce her philandering husband, Bill (Tim Robbins). But the audience believed the show to be unfiltered and authentic, and was repulsed by the imperfections of what, on the surface, had appeared to be an attractive, affluent nuclear family. (The charismatic eldest son, Lance, the first openly gay character on television, was especially polarizing.) “America had never had a mirror put up to itself before,” says Lane, “so the public just started attacking what they didn’t like—which turned out to be the actual individuals.” Today this is a common response to shows like Real Housewives and Jersey Shore. But, as revealed in Cinema Verite, a cautionary tale shot in Southern California and New York, the irony is that by televising her family’s dynamics, Pat had hoped to entice her traveling businessman of a husband into staying home more. Only it backfired: The presence of cameras—and the prospect of public opprobrium—merely hastened the demise of a deteriorating marriage. As Lance famously declared years later, “Television ate my family.”