`Tuscan Sun’ star keeps audience guessing

BOSTON _ Diane Lane doesn’t look very much at all like Diane Lane … well, at least not the movie star Diane Lane, who got an Academy Award nomination earlier this year for playing the straying wife in “Unfaithful.” And certainly not like the long, auburn-haired star of “Under the Tuscan Sun.”

On a promotional tour for the new film, Lane seems smaller than she does on screen. She is pretty, but without that WOW! movie glow.

“I cut my hair off, and I do look quite different than I do in the movie … which is good,” Lane says with a smile. “Keep them guessing. I change all the time. A little bit here, a little bit there, because I don’t like to look the same all the time. I don’t want to be pigeonholed.”

And yet Lane, who has been acting since she was cast in “Medea” at age 6 at the La Mama Experimental Theater in New York and has been in films since age 13 when she played opposite Laurence Olivier in “A Little Romance,” knows that she has “made it.” Her grandmother told her so.

“My grandmother called and said, `You’ve made it! You’ve arrived! You’re in the crossword puzzle!’

“So now I know. Pop culture. I’m in!”

“Under the Tuscan” Sun is based, loosely, on the bestseller by Frances Mayes who recounted the adventures she and her second husband had when they bought a rundown villa in Tuscany and transformed it through extensive renovations.

Writer-director Audrey Wells portrays a story about an unhappily divorced American woman who turns her life upside down when she buys a rundown house in Tuscany. Hope, romance and change are at the forefront of the movie version.

So, has Lane herself ever dropped everything to change her life?

“I’ve done it,” she replies quickly, breezily. “I’ve done it in marriage, out of marriage. Sometimes you need a dramatic shove off, often to a new horizon.” Over the years, Lane has had much-publicized stormy relationships with Timothy Hutton, Chris Atkins and Matt Dillon, later marrying Christopher Lambert.

Lane, the daughter of drama coach Burt Lane and singer Colleen Farrington, who divorced when she was 13 days old, has followed many new horizons. Her wealth of roles include Stella, opposite Alec Baldwin ; Jessica Lange as Blanche DuBois, in “A Streetcar Named Desire” on television; movie roles in “The Perfect Storm” and “The Cotton Club.”