It’s never too late to learn something new, whether you’re an academic, an actor or just any other person going about their chosen path of business. Acting in particular is one of those fields where the more diverse your pool of co-stars happens to be, the more you can learn about the craft. Diane Lane is someone who loves to teach this particular lesson, especially after her experience in the film Let Him Go inspired her to swing for the fences and up her already impressive game.
I was able to speak with Ms. Lane recently on behalf of CinemaBlend, as the press day for Let Him Go put us both in a virtual room to chat about writer/director Thomas Bezucha’s western noir drama. At the heart of that very story is a conflict that, mostly, involves Diane Lane’s Margaret Blackledge and her quest to rescue her grandson and former daughter-in-law from another vicious mother, played by Lesley Manville. When asking her about that core maternal storyline, Lane absolutely had to gush about her co-stars. Starting with the actor who played Lorna, the woman who married into the Blackledge family and is whisked away from them in quick fashion, Diane Lane told the following story about how she and co-star Kevin Costner took their cues from a dynamic young performer:
Kayli Carter, she’s amazing in this. I mean, it’s hard to play that vulnerable and that lost. She’s really good at it. I remember in rehearsal, she really brought her A-game; Kevin and I were like ‘Oh! Ok, we’re gonna step it up.’ So yeah, everybody can learn from everybody, and there are no stupid questions.
In the role of Lorna Blackledge, Kayli Carter plays a maternal figure the audience is always questioning. As we see her first married to the Blackledge’s son, Lorna is still learning the ropes of motherhood, with Margaret pitching in as much as she can to help raise her boy. So by the time Let Him Go jumps years ahead in the story, we see Lorna remarried and roped into the Weboy family.
With a new set of relatives who want to keep her and her son closer to their own interests, it’s the random disappearance of Lorna and Jimmy that puts Diane Lane’s Margaret Blackledge and her husband George (Kevin Costner) on a road trip into the den of the Weboy clan. While a majority of Let Him Go is focused on the tender relationship between Lane and Kevin Costner, and how that family’s values play into trying to rescue Lorna and Jimmy, there’s a strong core of maternal instinct that binds this film’s entirety.
Though the main event is Margaret’s clash of wills with Blanche Weboy, Lesley Manville is a formidable force of adversary in Let Her Go. The complete opposite of Kaylie Carter’s Lorna, Blanche is an imposing woman who isn’t afraid to offer you pork chops, while secretly wishing you’d make a fatal error in opposing her. Another powerhouse performance in a film that boasts its fair share of stellar acting, Diane Lane was also blown away by Ms. Manville’s methodology, sharing her awe thusly:
The representation of different ways of mothering in this film are very interesting. Speaking of Lesley Manville, she’s a formidable actress; and to get to work with her would be enough reason to do this film. But our scenes together were just extraordinary, and she’s such a professional. She really had a ball playing this role, which I find a little dark. But, you know, it’s so refreshing to not always have to be liked. That whole sympathetic character thing gets in the way of some fun acting sometimes.
Margaret Blackledge is the functional protagonist of Let Him Go, as while the journey is made by herself and her husband, it’s Margaret’s actions that drive the movie along. Which means that Diane Lane gets to be the center of the universe that Thomas Bezucha lovingly adapts from Larry Watson’s novel, as well as smack dab in the middle of the mothering continuum shown in the finished product. Striking a balance between Kayli Carter’s meek and subdued nature, and Lesley Manville’s full-tilt villainy, Ms. Lane gets to play both sides with intensity; something that she would obviously credit her co-stars with helping keep in check.
Just as every viewing experience is a lesson to be learned by the audience, making movies like Let Him Go is a chance for actors like Diane Lane to bank more experiences that continue to enrich her career. As Lane’s potential return to the fold in Zack Snyder’s Justice League is on the horizon, the effects of some of those lessons could be seen as early as 2021. Meanwhile, if you want to see Diane Lane and Kevin Costner reunite on the big screen, Let Him Go is in theaters now, should you be interested and feel safe enough to return to the movies to see it yourself. And if you want to see what else is in store for theatrical audiences throughout the rest of the year, you can check out the 2020 release schedule and see what else is in store at a theater near you.