BEVERLY HILLS — Ingenues take note: Nobody wants to hear you bemoan the lot of being a Hollywood actress.

Instead, try following the lead of veteran thespian Diane Lane. “This business is funny, because it’s so self-aggrandizing, but it’s entertainment! I try not to take it too seriously,” she says. “I don’t have any disrespect for what I do for a living, but at the same time, I have to keep it in its place.”

Her latest film, the romantic comedy “Must Love Dogs,” costarring John Cusack, echoes her lightened-up perspective. Lane plays a divorcée whose sister posts her profile on an online dating site. She meets the man of her dreams (Cusack), but a series of misunderstandings ensue when her ex (Dermot Mulroney) tries to worm his way back into her life.

The story’s humorous tone was a welcome relief. “You can relax and surrender to the movie, because it’s not a deified epic. It’s the opposite,” she says, adding that exploiting her awkward side was more fun than hiding it.

Seated on a sofa in her suite at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, Lane, dressed in a white peasant top, white trousers and turquoise Christian Louboutin wedges, says that these days she muses more about the big picture rather than the one coming out this Friday.

“Right now, I seem to be all about my work, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Things, for whatever reason, are all happening at the same time: the first year of my marriage [to actor Josh Brolin], my children hitting puberty and here I am at 40. Is there anything more to add to the plate?” she sighs, shrugging. “It seems like enough right here.”

And despite the competitive environment in Hollywood, Lane is ever vigilant about counting her blessings, noting: “I try not to get overly obsessed with success or failure, and not to compare myself to other people. That whole ‘grass is greener’ mentality is just torture.”

Lane’s self-confident wisdom has clearly been hard earned, after years in the business, though the buzz currently surrounding her might lead one to forget this fact. The actress, who made her film debut at 13 in “A Little Romance” opposite Sir Laurence Olivier, has enjoyed a resurgence in Hollywood, with an Oscar-nominated turn in 2002’s “Unfaithful” and two more films in the can: the Griffin Dunne drama “Fierce People,” playing opposite Donald Sutherland, and “Truth, Justice and the American Way,” with Adrien Brody and Ben Affleck.

This story first appeared in the July 25, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I’m happy people want to see me, but I’m afraid of getting used to it, because it’s not sustainable,” she says. “I’m trying to enjoy my moment. That’s what I’ve been told by everyone who’s had a moment.”

But Lane does relish getting gussied up for said moments. “I remember watching my mother [ex-Playboy Playmate Colleen Farrington] get dressed to go out, and I do appreciate the power of beauty. It’s great fun.” But don’t ask her to identify any labels. “I know what I like and what I need, but my daughter is the only one who knows who designed it,” she laughs.

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