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From ‘The Outsiders’ to ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’ See The Amazing Career of Diane Lane

From child star to sophisticated Hollywood veteran!

Diane Lane has long been one of our most glamorous screen presences, conjuring up the serene elegance of a bygone era. She also has some serious range, with beloved roles in ’80s cult movies (Streets of Fire; Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains), delightful romances (Under the Tuscan Sun, Must Love Dogs, Nights in Rodanthe), sexy thrillers (Unfaithful), superhero movies (Man of Steel and its spinoffs) and much more.

Now approaching 60, Diane Lane has been famous since her early teen years, and she can currently be seen as midcentury socialite Slim Keith in the star-studded miniseries Feud: Capote vs. the Swans. Here’s a look back at her decades-long career.

MUST-READ: ‘FEUD’ Stars Naomi Watts, Diane Lane and Calista Flockhart Talk Capote, His Swans and Crushing Betrayal

“The new Grace Kelly”

Lane was born into a creative family in New York City in 1965. Her mom, Colleen Farrington, was a model and 1957 Playboy playmate, while her dad, Burton Eugene Lane, was a drama coach. After taking on a variety of stage roles as a child, at just 13 she was cast in her debut screen role, opposite Laurence Olivier in the 1979 film A Little Romance.

Diane Lane on the phone in a scene from the film 'A Little Romance', 1979
Diane Lane in A Little Romance (1979)Orion/Getty

It takes a lot to impress an actor of Olivier’s stature, but the young Lane did just that, as Olivier called her “the new Grace Kelly.” As the ’80s came around, Lane kept busy with roles in Touched by Love, Cattle Annie and Little Britches and Six Pack, and her punky roles in Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (in which she played a teen who starts an all-girl band) and Streets of Fire (in which she played a seductive singer in a dystopian, noir-inspired world) earned her cult icon status and showed she could play the tough girl just as easily as the sweetheart.

Diane Lane in 1983
Diane Lane in 1983Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty

Olivier wasn’t the only film industry veteran impressed by Lane. The Godfather and Apocalypse Now director Francis Ford Coppola cast her in three of his movies from 1983 to 1984, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish and The Cotton Club. The Outsiders, an adaptation of S.E. Hinton‘s classic ’60s coming-of-age novel, was by far the most critically and commercially successful of these, thanks in large part to its charismatic cast of soon-to-be megastars.

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Diane Lane in 'The Cotton Club' 1984
Diane Lane in The Cotton Club (1984)Bettmann/Getty

Looking back at The Outsiders in a 2021 oral history, Coppola said, “Diane Lane pretty much had the role from day one because of her beautiful work in A Little Romance. I knew she was the right one before we even met her.”

MUST-READ: The Cast of ‘The Outsiders’ Then and Now: See Where the Stars of the ’80s Classic Are Today

Diane Lane and Matt Dillon in 'The Outsiders' 1983
Diane Lane and Matt Dillon in The Outsiders (1983)Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty

Lane was a standout in The Outsiders‘ largely male cast, but her next few films didn’t bring her the same level of recognition. In 1989, Lane appeared in the acclaimed Western miniseries Lonesome Dove, and was nominated for an Emmy award for her role as a prostitute.

MUST-READ: ‘Lonesome Dove’ Cast: See What the Stars of the ’80s Western Miniseries Are Doing Today

Diane Lane in 1989
Diane Lane in 1989Harry Langdon/Getty

Diane Lane in the ’90s

Lane’s career in the ’90s was something of a hodgepodge. She famously passed on Julia Roberts‘ role in Pretty Woman, which could’ve made her America’s Sweetheart. Instead, she played actress Paulette Goddard in Chaplin, appeared in the futuristic comic book adaptation Judge Dredd and teamed back up with Coppola for his critically panned film Jack.

Some of her other movies in this era included Knight Moves, The Setting Sun, Wild Bill and Gunshy. At the end of the decade, Lane won praise for her role as a ’60s housewife having an affair in A Walk on the Moon, and as the ’00s began, she’d experience a career renaissance.

Diane Lane in 1993
Diane Lane in 1993Kurt Krieger/Corbis via Getty

Diane Lane makes a comeback

The early ’00s gave Lane a major boost, as after many years of forgotten movies, she was cast in some of her best-known roles to date. Movies she costarred in, including The Perfect Storm and My Dog Skip, were box office successes, and her back-to-back roles in the 2002 erotic thriller Unfaithful and the 2003 rom-com Under the Tuscan Sun both captivated audiences and established the one-time child star as a mature actress in possession of a singular grace.

Olivier Martinez in a scene from the film 'Unfaithful', 2002
Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez in Unfaithful (2002)20th Century-Fox/Getty

Lane received an Oscar nomination for her role as a woman embarking on a steamy affair with a handsome Frenchman in Unfaithful. While the movie got mixed reviews, Lane’s performance was widely seen as a return to form that breathed life into a role that might otherwise be cliche.

While Unfaithful was a moody drama, Under the Tuscan Sun was a work of delightful escapism. Lane exuded charm as a recently-divorced woman finding self-acceptance and love in a gorgeous Italian setting, and over 20 years later, the film remains one of her defining works. In an interview, Lane said it was “rare to find a role that gives you so much to do,” as the movie captured the highs and lows of being a 40-something woman in a transitional moment.

'Under the Tuscan Sun' 2003
Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)@fooduristik/Instagram

Following Under the Tuscan Sun, Lane appeared in the romantic movies Must Love Dogs, Nights in Rodanthe and Paris Can Wait. She also acted in period films like Hollywoodland, Secretariat and Trumbo, and joined the DC cinematic universe playing Superman’s mom in Man of Steel and its sequels. Her voiceover role as the mom in the hit Pixar movie Inside Out further expanded her appeal to a new audience.

Diane Lane in 2015
Diane Lane in 2015Jason Merritt/Getty

In the 2010s and beyond, Lane, like many veteran actresses coming into the streaming era, dove into TV roles. Since 2018, she’s acted in shows like House of Cards, The Romanoffs, Y: The Last Man and Extrapolations, and she’s currently starring in Feud: Capote vs. the Swans along fellow ’80s icons Molly Ringwald and Demi Moore.

MUST-READ: Young Demi Moore: A Look Back at the Glamorous Star’s ’80s Beginnings

New York premiere of 'Feud: Capote vs. the Swans' in 2024
Diane Lane at the New York premiere of Feud: Capote vs. the Swans in 2024Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Lane has lived many lives, transitioning gracefully from ’80s it girl to ’00s icon of sophisticated and worldly womanhood. In an interview, she said, “I try to not draw attention to myself… I prefer the anonymous life.” While Lane may keep a low profile, when she’s onscreen it’s impossible to look away.

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