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Lane talks ‘Untraceable,’ Brolin, awards

Above and below, Diane Lane in scenes from ‘Untraceable,’ opening this week

Above and below, Diane Lane in scenes from ‘Untraceable,’ opening this week

Diane Lane is unpredictable but she’s not unflinching.

Best known for romances (“Must Love Dogs,” “A Walk on the Moon”) and dramas (“The Outsiders,” “Unfaithful”), the actress was eager to try a film far outside her comfort zone.

“Untraceable,” due in theaters on Jan. 25, more than fit the bill.

Directed by “Primal Fear’s” Gregory Hoblit, the “Saw”-ish thriller unreels the saga of Jennifer Marsh, a secret service agent who spends her days cracking down on sexual predators and cyber thieves.

Her latest case is a doozy. She’s been assigned the task of catching a serial killer who slays his victims live on the Internet. As if that wasn’t sick enough, the murderer determines how quickly and brutally his victims will die according to the number of Web site hits.

Making the movie was tough on the 43-year-old Lane, who’s never tipped her toe into the world of horror films before. Cool and collected, she recently fielded questions about husband Josh Brolin, the importance of a good night’s sleep and the ways in which the Oscars are like childbirth.

Weekender: What was the appeal of doing a horror movie?

Lane: It’s not a horror film as much as it is a thriller. I liked the fact that this character was a working woman. Her job as depicted in the movie exists. So, she’s very real. It’s sad that we need angels online to intervene with the bad guys online, but we do.

Weekender: Were you shocked at all by the things that you ended up seeing on the Internet?

Lane: Yes! I was very shocked, and it validated my technophobia. I’m back happily in my blissful ignorance.

Weekender: At times, the violence in “Untraceable” is pretty intense. Did that give you any second thoughts when you were thinking about taking on the role?

Lane: No, because I think the movie is a statement about our times, and I’m a girl of my times. I don’t want to live in a bubble. I love how uncomfortable [the movie makes people] because that tells me I made the right choice. I think that comfort is overrated. If I’m worth my salt in this business, it’s because of the diversity of the roles I’ve been able to pull off. I think, honestly, that’s why I felt so challenged by this movie. I did it on a kind of a dare.

Weekender: It sounds like you embraced the whole serial killer genre.

Lane: Well, the movie is not misogynistic. It doesn’t have a sexualized, negative message about women. The poster is not going to be offensive to me or to my kids on the playground. This is the entertainment industry. I’m not in a ballet here, even though some ballets deal with some pretty tough issues, too. So, yes, this is a movie, and it’s not “Must Love Dogs.”

Weekender: What was it like to hang out with FBI agents?

Lane: I spent most of my time with a woman named Jane who became my role model for the part. She was amazing. This was in Portland. She dressed better than me and had better hair. She looked great. She carried herself with dignity and style. I went out and got the exact clothes that she was wearing, and then the [producers] said “No, no, no, you look too nice. It might be too distracting for the audience to see such a well-dressed FBI agent.”

Weekender: What else did you learn from the agents?

Lane: We had fun. The acting part was pretty harrowing, as you can imagine, but the preparation was really fun. We had firearms training days, and I discovered that it’s fun firing off large rounds of ammunition. It’s a thrill. I found out I’m not a very good shot.

Weekender: Do you and Josh ever give each other career advice?

Lane: No, not really. Maybe we should. I think that’s where angels fear to tread. You don’t want to come between an artist and his art.

Weekender: How long have you two been together?

Lane: Six years now — three married, almost three and a half. I know, that’s a wow in Hollywood these days, huh?

Weekender: With “No Country For Old Men” and “American Gangster,” Josh is suddenly red hot.

Lane: Twenty-four years in the making. I know a little about that.

Weekender: Does it change anything between the two of you?

Lane: Yeah, I was really counting on him helping me out with my stocks, and now he’s too busy. He’s got nicer problems. Other than that, nothing changes. Work is just more of a topic of conversation than it was before. It sure feels great that he’s having success and getting rewards for his work.

Weekender: You also have “Nights in Rodanthe” coming out this year. That movie re-teams you with Richard Gere for the third time after “Cotton Club” and “Unfaithful.” How was that?

Lane: Oh, it was wonderful. I adore Richard. In the movie, we start as friends, and then we wise up to the fact that our relationship is something more. The bond informs the rest of our characters’ lives.

Weekender: Can you imagine doing a romantic movie with Josh?

Lane: I think if I had my preference, I would rather have Josh direct me.

Weekender: Josh might be nominated for an Oscar this year. Is he prepared for that?

Lane: Nobody can ever prepare you. It’s like childbirth, I think. The year I was nominated [for “Unfaithful”], they cancelled the red carpet because the bombing had just started [in Afghanistan.] My joke about it was that it was like having an epidural. It was easy. The red carpet is the hard part.

Weekender: C’mon, you always look great. Any beauty tips?

Lane: Make sure all the curtains are closed. No, just kidding. I’ll go with prayer, yoga, sleep and water.

Weekender: Do you have a favorite thriller, one that you can watch over and over again even though you know how it’s going to end?

Lane: “Klute.” That’s my standard bearer. If you can do better than that, then you take the cake.

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