Diane Franklin Is Enjoying Her Most Excellent Adventure Yet

Diane Franklin is totally awesome. Truly. The actress rose to stardom in the 80s, starring in hit movies like Better Off Dead, The Last American Virgin, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Today, Diane is dedicated not just to her acting career, but helping her kids, Olivia and Nick, achieve their own dreams, too. We spoke with the French exchange babe of the 80s about her new book, her family, and why talking about sex shouldn’t be a taboo topic anymore.

While we were shooting your cover, you said that you don’t mind being known as an 80s actress. Why is that?

I was one of the fortunate people in that my hub was in the 80s. There’s a time when your career hits and that’s your era. When that happens, that’s a gift. I worked in both television and film, and I had a lot of leading roles.

I was involved in more controversial issues; my films had abortion, sex, nudity, and even incest like in Amityville II: The Possession. I did mainstream stuff, too, but I was one of the few actresses who was able to cross those lines.

Overall, though, I feel that I represented the time and feeling of that era. I had an 80s look, and I had an 80s femininity and an upbeat attitude. I could be dramatic but also fun. I really did have an excellent adventure!

Speaking of excellent adventures, let’s talk about your book: Diane Franklin: The Excellent Adventures of the Last American, French-Exchange Babe of the 80s. What inspired you to write the book?

I wanted to give people the truth coming from the primary source — me. That’s why I didn’t want my book to be edited too much. I wanted readers to look back at my work and understand my story. I was braver than someone who just wanted to write a book about themselves because I’m putting my life on the table.

As an 80s kid, I love that you share all of those behind-the-scenes stories.

I know! I wanted to make someone feel good by reading it and make you feel like you were there in the experience with me.

Many 80s films were pretty sexy, and sexuality has played a pivotal part in some of your roles.

I think being sexy is awesome, but why you can’t be sexy and cute? It doesn’t have to be trashy. I have no problem talking about sex because I have a point of view about it. Women our age should be having sex. There’s an appropriate audience to have those discussions with, though. You can be sexy without being rude or offensive.

Although you’ve had, as you said, some more controversial roles, I think one of the top ones was playing Karen in The Last American Virgin. The abortion scene was so realistic, and I remember that my mom showed me that scene to help me understand what it really meant.

That’s amazing. See how your mother took care of you? She said, “These topics aren’t talked about, but they should be.” In Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the character Stacy has an abortion and she’s a wreck. I go through the abortion and I’m gorgeous — my hair is flowing. That was the only part about the movie that I think, “Oooh, that wasn’t reality.” But, again, there’s still a lesson there. It teaches girls about how it really is and hopefully helps them feel less scared. That’s why it’s good to talk about these things because this is a reality for women.

I agree. My mom used it as a teachable moment.

Amazing. Ah-mazing. The 80s were actually a very feminist time. Girls and women alike were going into a male world and thinking, “I’m going to make my mark.” We became more assertive; we all had thoughts and that wasn’t explored before. It wasn’t feminism to kick the guys out; it was about knowing what you wanted and feeling confident enough to go for it.

You’ve had many other roles in your life, including being a teacher, too.

I’ve been teaching at a public school for a few years now. I work in kindergarten through 8th grade which is awesome. We put on plays, practice public speaking, and even do improv.  I get the kids to be open and free because that’s crucial to their development as artists and as people.

You did take a break from acting to raise your family.

I always and will be a mom first in my life. That’s how I got involved in teaching. I was a big actress and then I thought, “How can I incorporate what I know how to do and then bring my kids with me?” My past is just as much a part of me as my present is. Anything that I have done in the past that can help my kids is a blessing and it brings me such joy to do so.

Your daughter Olivia is a film director, so in a way, she’s following in your footsteps.

She learned to be a director on her own. She’s very creative. She’ll come home and say, “I want to make a llama movie,” and I don’t say, “What?!” I say, “Okay, let’s try to figure this out.” I started Olivia at a young age to take control of that creativity. That’s why she feels she can take it on.

And my son Nick is equally as amazing. He’s going into music and he’s doing his own thing. He’s so funny and I love spending time with both of them and supporting them in any way that I can.

It sounds like you’re in the greatest role of your life.

Absolutely. I’m so proud of my kids and I love my husband so much. I’ve been with him since I was 21 and my relationship with him is very important to me.

I’ve found that in life, you should make yourself happy. Sure, it’s important to be serious at times, but never lose your happiness. My mom would say that, and I didn’t get it until later. You’re entitled to feel happy. At the end, it’s about being brave, awesome, and having the most excellent adventure possible.

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