The title character of "Secretariat" is the thoroughbred horse who stole the nation's heart when he won the 1973 Triple Crown. He was so popular, in fact, that during the lead-up to the Belmont Stakes he graced the covers of "Time" magazine, "Newsweek" and "Sports Illustrated" in the same week. But the star of the new Disney film isn't the horse himself—it's the breeder who put him on the map. Oscar® nominee Diane Lane portrays the inspirational Penny Chenerey, and she chats with about motherhood, the power of horses and why she may never return to the Kentucky Derby.

Watch a clip from the movie.
Rachel Bertsche: Tell me a little bit about Penny Chenery. She wasn't exactly who people expected to see in the barn back then.

Diane Lane: Yeah. You know, I think she was such an anomaly being a woman in her situation that the media saw something very exciting to capitalize on. They seemed to forget that this was her family business and she'd been born into horse breeding. Although, she stepped away and had some kids and lost her cred, I guess.

RB: I know you spent a good amount of time with Penny in real life. What struck you most about her?

DL: She is truly regal. That's the word that comes to mind. And I don't mean that in an aloof way or anything along those lines, but some people just have a real backbone, and that's what she's got.

RB: Did that inspire your own performance? Did you study her closely, or did you take liberties in this role?

DL: No, I was doing my very best to live up to the real Penny and do her proud because she deserves that. I mean, what a rare opportunity to spend time with the person that you're bringing to the screen. She was so excited and came to visit us while we were filming, and that was super neat. Then we just said, since she's in the stands watching us anyway, why don't we put her in some costume and let her sit a little closer? [Penny has a cameo as part of the crowd watching a race.] So she was game, and we loved her for it.


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