She’s been nominated for three Oscars, starred opposite screen legends including Al Pacino and Walter Matthau, and was married to one of Hollywood’s most dashing leading men — Cary Grant. Of course, for Dyan Cannon, life at 82 isn’t so shabby, either.
“This is probably the best time — ever!” the actress exclusively reveals Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “It’s one thing to handle life on-screen, and it’s another to learn how to handle it as it happens. Now I’m very spiritually grounded. That made my life really fine.”
So have Dyan’s “wonderful” daughter, Jennifer Grant, 53, her grandkids, Cary, 11, and Davian, 7, and hard-earned wisdom. “I had to learn how to be happy alone. It wasn’t easy, but I learned how to really treasure every day.” Part of that meant coming to terms with her past: Since 2014, she’s been working on a stage musical about her life, and her 2011 memoir Dear Cary: My Life With Cary Grant has just been optioned to become a U.K. miniseries.
Now, after a nine-year break from the screen, she’s in the Pure Flix sitcom Mood Swings, which lets her do what she does best. “Comedy is my thing!” she tells Closer with a laugh. “I love it!”
Scroll below to read our exclusive Q&A with Dyan!
It’s great to see you back on the screen in Mood Swings! What took you so long?
For the last five years I’ve been working on a Broadway musical about my life that I’m starring in — Cary, of course, will be part of it. Acting was … I don’t want to say not as important, but I didn’t crave it. I’ve been writing for 11 years. So the call came and I thought, This would be fun. And it is fun!
You also have an indie film, Hope’s Legacy, out next year…
It’s a family film. I’m acting again now and considering other projects. There’s a series on the table that’s being considered as well.
How’s the musical shaping up?
We’re not finished. It got a little too dark, and now we’re looking for the right writer to add some comedy. We have 25 songs!
You were Oscar-nominated for acting in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and Heaven Can Wait, as well as the short you wrote, produced and directed, 1976’s Number One. Tell us about Heaven Can Wait.
When Warren [Beatty] called and offered me the part, I turned it down. Three times, which gives you an idea of how much I know about good parts. It seemed nuts to me, but Warren said, “We’ll get there.” I trusted him and was so glad that I did it. Julie Christie became a great friend.
Then you won the Golden Globe for it!
It’s nice to be nominated and it’s nice to win … and then it’s harder to lose, if I’m going to be honest. [Laughs]
The wife-swapping comedy Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice was scandalous at the time…
Yes, it was. Can you imagine, with what they’re showing now? The idea of four people in bed together was a no-no. I had two auditions, one for that, the other for a Universal film that included a five-picture deal. I had the weekend to decide which I wanted to do, and I turned down the five picture deal. My gamble turned out well, thank you, God!
What other films are you proud of?
I loved Out to Sea with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. I loved Author! Author! with Al Pacino. I worked with the best in the business and I don’t have a favorite.
Why did you write about your life with Cary Grant in Dear Cary?
[Agent] Swifty Lazar came to me about a week after Cary passed and said, “We can get you millions,” but they wanted a lot of stuff I wasn’t ready to ever talk about. About 15 years later, Jackie Kennedy said, “It’s time to write your book, and you don’t even have to mention Cary Grant.’’ She was going to be my editor and I said, “No, there’s still some healing that has to happen.” I spent six years writing, and it was so much bigger than just Cary and I. It’s about relationships and what people do to themselves and each other under that canopy called love. That’s why I decided to write it.
What made your marriage unique?
Well, he was Cary Grant, so that’s unique to start with. We couldn’t go any place in public without causing a stir. It just made everything bigger.
You opened up about how he was controlling, and his convincing you to take LSD…
I never set out to take out the stars in people’s eyes about him. He was an amazing man, in so many ways. He had a rough life as a kid and … all I can say about him today is how much I appreciate him.
When the book came out, you said you think you love him more now than ever.
I don’t [recall that]. I’ve learned to love more now, to live without blame and with forgiveness, and I would’ve treated it differently because of what I’ve learned.
You’ve discounted his alleged bisexuality.
Yeah, and I still discount that!
How were you discovered?
I was working downtown with clothes designer Eleanor Green [in the 1950s] and having lunch with a couple friends when this agent walked up to me and said, “I think you can be a star. What have you done?” I lied and named every play I’d seen. I went to my boss and said, “I’m quitting my job! I’m going to be a star.”
What’s your favorite role?
Being a mother and grandmother, because you’ve got to act your way through some of that too! [Laughs]
How did motherhood change you?
You learn how to become far more selfless.
What’s your family up to?
My daughter is teaching mindfulness [meditation] and yoga. She was interested in acting in the beginning, but no longer. She and my grandkids are gorgeous inside and out — the handsomest and brightest kids in the world. It’s a wonderful family.
What’s your life like today?
I have good friends. I have a Bible study in my home once a month and work with recovering addicts once a week. I had two marriages [to Grant from 1965–1968 and real estate investor Stanley Fimberg from 1985– 1991] and I’m not looking for a partner. I just think [life’s] about getting a grip, you know?
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Reporting by Diana Cooper