In person Keaton looks impressively quirky and is utterly charming – perhaps because she is so emotionally accessible. She is wearing a bright white man’s dinner shirt, a corset black belt and black dinner suit trousers over black platform boots, leopard print nails, a chunky cross and a studded dog collar.
Is she wearing her actual dog's collar? "No, it doesn't belong to my dog, but it is a collar for an actual dog."
Much is made of her somewhat wayward dressing. She is not afraid of eccentricity; she embraces it. Her look today is slightly Annie Hall, slightly maîtresse.
The 68-year-old is on the publicity trail for her new film And So It Goes where she stars opposite Michael Douglas.
She laughs a lot and was completely hilarious in her latest movie, which is directed by Rob Reiner, who knows how to bring comedy into romance – he is most famous for When Harry Met Sally. She plays Leah, a hypersensitive nightclub singer who eventually falls for the very unlikely realtor played by Douglas, who starts off selfish, arrogant, curmudgeonly, but learns that against all expectations he's not through with love.
Douglas is flawlessly funny as the realtor trying to sell his own mansion for an inflated price because he doesn’t want to let go of his past. His estranged son shows up out of the blue asking him to temporarily take care of the nine-year-old granddaughter he never knew existed.
I tell her it was fabulously funny. She exudes gratitude. "I was so happy to be in that movie. I was happy to play that woman, I liked her so much. I'd like to be like her."
In the movie Leah is a singer, just as Keaton once wanted to be, and sensitive, kind, empathic and sometimes even wears layered clothing like Keaton.
Are they really not alike?
"Yes, we can both sing, but I am not quite as open. I am not open at all. I am adventurous in a different way but I am not adventurous in a way that is going to make me a more content human being, but she is."
Does she want to be a more content human being? "That's a good question too," she laughs with an infectious wholehearted laugh. "I don’t know really. I loved the feeling I had when I was playing her. She was more generous. She didn't have leopard skin nails but she was adventurous in a different way: a romantic adventurer. And that was so sweet."
The real life Keaton, now 68, is as famous for her romances with high-octane high profile men as she is for her bowler hats. She chose passion over contentment, excitement over commitment. When she moved to Manhattan in her twenties and started off in Hair she met Woody Allen in a stage production of Play It Again Sam and decided there and then she wanted to be his girlfriend.
What Keaton says she's never been very good is when love fades and it transforms into something else. Eventually though she became really good friends with Woody Allen. Both her books are full of praise for him, how he was a mentor to her.
"He was the first person who helped me find an analyst and he also taught me that structure was very important in my life. Those were sustaining gifts he gave me."
She needed therapy because at the time of her relationship with Allen she had an even more consuming relationship with bulimia. She was hooked on bingeing and purging. Would eat up to 20,000 calories a day.
Her mother Dorothy was an artist and writer who was never published because she was a mother and wife first. She never felt enough. She never had enough. As a direct consequence not wanting to be her mother she had the psychology of wanting to have it all, her cake and eat it, literally.
"That's right. It's awful. It's really ugly. It's a big lie." It gave her a false feeling of power to fit into tiny clothes and eat endless buckets ice cream and bags of candy. When she was with Allen she always kept her own apartment, not as a statement of independence but as a statement of dependence on her ritual of gorging and purging. "I never get the urge to do it now. It really does alter your life being an addict."
She refuses to be drawn on any of the recent abuse allegations about Woody Allen and talks about him with great love. "He is my friend…"
So did she enjoy playing opposite Michael Douglas? "He was a good match for me. He was a big pro and fun to tease."
Did the movie romance make her feel ready to change her life and make room for love? "No," she laughs, "Not at all. I can’t even picture that scenario. I picture it when it's written in a script. You get to sing four songs, work with Michael Douglas, and play a lovely woman who has the kind of balls to stand up to this jerk of a guy and feel the two of us will help each other.
"In your late sixties, to have this wonderful thing happen, where you can care about somebody and fall in love again, and be hurt, and it's still positive. That's always okay in a movie." But not for real life? "Not really."
And So It Goes is in cinemas around the nation from today.