Diane Lane shares the acclaim

The strikingly beautiful Oscar nominee Diane Lane, 45, has enjoyed a major Hollywood career in films such as “The Outsiders” (1983), “Rumble Fish” (1983), “Unfaithful” (2002) and “Under the Tuscan Sun” (2003) — but she's reluctant to take sole responsibility for these achievements.

Rather, she generously credits those around her, finding and appreciating unique, amazing things about each person.

In her new film “Secretariat,” which opens Friday, she plays Penny Chenery, the owner of the 1973 Triple Crown winner and arguably the greatest racehorse in history.

During a recent visit to San Francisco, Lane acknowledges the real, 88-year-old Chenery for providing insight into the role.

“One of the things I believe I have in common with Penny is that we both had strong fathers that we wanted to make proud, though it's very bittersweet,” she says.

Chenery's father never lived to see Secretariat win; Lane's father once predicted she would earn an Oscar nomination for “Unfaithful.” But, Lane says, “When it actually occurred that I got nominated, he wasn't alive anymore — he had just missed it.”

In the movie Lane also develops a wonderful chemistry with John Malkovich, who plays trainer Lucien Laurin.

“He certainly raises the standards,” she says. “We both read the same script, but I didn't see the humor or the pain in his character. I didn't see the vulnerability behind the bravado.”

Lane’s penchant for learning from others may go all the way back her first film, 1979’s “A Little Romance,” made when she was 13. Her co-star was the legendary Laurence Olivier, who hailed Lane as “the next Grace Kelly.”

“He was so gracious,” Lane says. “I had seen all his work, the stuff that was filmed anyway. I was one of those geeky kids that actually liked 'Othello.' He knew that he had to be present and make us feel safe. That's why he said, 'Call me Larry.' If a 13-year-old could chortle, I did.”

Lane, of course, deserves some credit, too. “Secretariat” director Randall Wallace says, “what really impresses me about Diane is, who she is in public and who she is in private are the same person, and the audience can feel that truth.”

IF YOU GO

Secretariat

Starring Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Scott Glenn, James Cromwell, Dylan Walsh

Written by Mike Rich, William Nack

Directed by Randall Wallace

Rated PG

Running time 1 hour 56 minutes

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