DIANE LANE to inspire other women in SECRETARIAT

Oscar-nominated actress Diane Lane (“Unfaithful,” “Nights in Rodanthe”) stars as the extraordinary Penny Chenery, the real-life owner of a champion horse whose Cinderella-like story is recounted in Touchstone Pictures' inspiring film “Secretariat.” The critically acclaimed drama will be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas (Glorietta 4, Greenbelt 3 & Trinoma) starting Dec. 1.

Based on the remarkable true story, the film chronicles the spectacular journey of the 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. In the film, housewife and mother Penny Chenery (Lane) agrees to take over her ailing father’s Virginia-based Meadow Stables, despite her lack of horse-racing experience. Against all odds, with the help of veteran trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich), she manages to navigate the male-dominated business, ultimately fostering the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years and what may be the greatest racehorse of all time.

Director Randall Wallace (the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of “Braveheart”) explains, “What Diane Lane brings to this role is authenticity. She is breathtakingly beautiful, and yet, you feel that she could be someone you know. She is accessible as well as inspiring, ideal, and yet she seems so tangible. I think those dualities were important aspects in bringing Penny as a character to the screen.”

Much of Lane’s research involved spending time with Chenery. “Penny is straight ahead,” says the actress. “She is comfortable in her own skin, certainly with the passage of time. And, wow, at first, I was really nervous to meet her — in a healthy way. I knew that it must be unbelievably surreal to meet the person who is going to portray you in a film. We wound up really enjoying each other’s company. The stories we got into — mother stories, daughter stories, sibling, wife, all the roles women play in life that Penny is and was at that time of her life. I felt very empowered by her trust in me.”

Chenery was certainly a fan of Lane’s. “I am honored and delighted to be portrayed by such a skillful, perceptive actress who is also a lovely person,” she says.

A confessed horse-racing novice, Lane soaked up all as much as she could from Chenery, even sitting with her to watch the footage of Secretariat’s Triple Crown races. “The name Secretariat immediately conjured up the excitement and uniqueness of that horse,” says Lane. “I remember him from my childhood. It was so much fun to do the research, to talk to the people who were part of his life, to feel the glory of the presence of that horse. What’s nice about it too is that humans can be ambitious, greedy and desirous of victory and accolades. But all judgment is removed with Secretariat—his triumphs are pure.”

Lane adds that as a child, she was a huge equine fan — and the little girl inside her was thrilled to be a part of the movie. “I always had a fascination with horses, from the time I was a little girl, to the point of having a fantasy life that involved horses. Some people have an imaginary friend; I had an imaginary horse. Dad would spend the 13 bucks to drive me out to Queens so I could ride some barn sour nag in a circle, which was the thrill of my month. I fell in love with horses as a little girl and I still love them.”

“Secretariat” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures.

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