"The connection between one's life and the parts one plays are inevitable. I think that I try to keep those sort of separate." Annette Bening
Golden Globe winning actress Annette Bening recently received rave reviews for her portrayal of lead character, Julia Lambert, in István Szabó's film adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's novel, Being Julia (2004). Annette Bening, also known as A.B, has been nominated for Academy Awards for starring in such acclaimed films as Grifters (1990) and American Beauty (1999). She also earned critical praise for her stage work, notably in a production of Coastal Disturbance (1987).
Bening's past romances include actor Ed Begley Jr., whom she briefly dated before tieing the knot with renowned actor Warren Beatty in 1992.
From November 8 to the 18th, 2004, Bening was reported to have joined several Hollywood beauties such as Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker and Katey Sagal, as well as many sports stars, in the donation of their red clothes to a charity auction. The charity act was held to benefit women and heart heath with the American Heart Association. She also recently united with Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore, Angela Bassett and other high profiles in the Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope, a program to benefit Tsunami victims in Asia.
A Shy Girl
Childhood and Family:
The youngest of four children to parents Grant Bening (church singer) and Shirley Bening (insurance salesperson), Annette Francine Bening was born on May 29, 1958. Topeka, Kansas born Annette was raised in Wichita, Kansas and San Diego, California. Annette has two older brothers, Brad Bening (lawyer) and Byron Bening (electrician), and an older sister, Jane Bening (gynecologist). Young Annette was known as a very shy girl and for her honesty and friendliness.
In California, Annette finished high school in three years at Patrick Henry High in San Diego and studied theater for two years at Mesa College in San Diego. She subsequently attended the San Francisco State University and was certified with a drama degree. Acting beckoned and Annette signed up with the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.
In 1984, Annette married American Conservatory Theater instructor Steven White, but they later separated in 1986 and divorced in 1991. During the making of film Bugsy (1991), Annette met and fell in love with fellow actor Warren Beatty (born on March 30, 1937). The couple shared wedding vows on March 12, 1992 and has four children, daughters Kathlyn Elizabeth (born on January 8, 1992), Isabel Ira Ashley (born on January 11, 1997), Ella Corinne (born on April 8, 2000), and son Benjamin (born on August 23, 1994). After marrying Beatty, Annette became the sister-in-law to actress/producer/director/writer Shirley MacLaine and the aunt of actress Sachi Parker (born on September 1, 1956).
Before getting her first acting work with the American Conservatory Theater, young Annette Bening participated in various jobs ranging from secretary to her father, chef on a rented scuba-diving boat, to dancer in The Green Show at Old Globe Theatre in San Diego and Shakespeare Festival in Colorado. With the American Conservatory Theater, Annette performed on several stage productions, including playing pregnant Lady Macbeth, Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Laurel in The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Emily in Our Town. From 1985 to 1986 Annette joined with the Denver Center Theater Company playing the lead role in a production of Pygmalion and The Cherry Orchard.
In 1986 Annette decided to move to New York to develop her stage skills. In the next year, Bening landed her first acclaimed performance in Tina Howe's Coastal Disturbances, which handed her a Tony Award nomination and the Clarence Derwent Award winner (playing Holly Dancer). She also debuted on television with the CBS' movie, Manhunt for Claude Dallas (1986) as well as guest starred on an episode of NBC's Miami Vice and CBS' Wiseguy.
Bening later flew to Hollywood and appeared in the sitcom It Had to Be You. Afterwards, her first motion picture work came when Howard Deutch cast her as Dan Aykroyd's bad-tempered wife Kate Craig in his unmemorable comedy film, The Great Outdoors (1988, also starring John Candy). Bening finally won her first starring role of tricky, hot Marquise de Merteuil in Milos Forman's adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos' classic novel, Valmont (1989). She also returned to stage playing bit role, Central Park Zookeeper, in the Off-Broadway production of Michael Weller's Spoils of War.
1990 was a big year for Annette Bening. After playing a small part in Mike Nichols' adaptation of Carrie Fisher's book Postcards From the Edge (starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine), Stephen Frears cast her, along with Anjelica Huston and John Cusack, in his crime-drama film, an adaptation of Jim Thompson's novel, The Grifters. Her brilliant acting as sexy fraud-artist Myra Langtry received high praise, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination and a National Society of Film Critics Award.
Following the runaway success of The Grifters, Bening was offered a string of roles, costarring with heavy hitters Harrison Ford and Robert De Niro, in such 1991 hit films as Regarding Henry and Guilty by Suspicion. In the same year Bening gained more acclaim and a Golden Globe award nomination for playing husband Warren Beatty's love interest, Virginia Hill, in Barry Levinson's adaptation of Dean Jennings' crime-drama book, Bugsy (1991). Bening reunited with her husband in Glenn Gordon Caron's reproduction of An Affair to Remember and Love Affair, costarring movie legend Katharine Hepburn. She gained more rave reviews in 1995 and again receiving a Golden Globe nomination for portraying Michael Douglas' presidential love admiration, Sydney Wade, in Rob Reiner's The American President. The rest of the 90s saw her in films like Ian McKellen's adaptation of Shakespeare's Richard III (1995, playing Queen Elizabeth), Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! (1996), Edward Zwick's The Siege (1998, with Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis), and Neil Jordan's In Dreams (1999, opposite Robert Downey Jr.). Bening also performed on stage, playing the role of Hedda Gabler in a Los Angeles production.
Bening's next breakout role arrived when Sam Mendes cast her to play Kevin Spacey's wife, Carolyn Burnham, in his runaway success drama film, American Beauty (1999). Bening garnered critical acclaim for the role and netted a Best Actress Oscar nomination. She continued to play distinguished roles in the following films, including an alien's wife, Susan Anderson, in What Planet Are You From? (2000, opposite Garry Shandling) and as Kevin Costner's love attention, Sue Barlow, in an adaptation of Lauran Paine's novel, the western Open Range (2003, also directed by Kevin Costner).
Recently in 2005, Bening won a Golden Globe award and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress after portraying the title role of revengeful aged actress Julia Lambert in István Szabó's adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's novel, the drama-comedy Being Julia (2004). Added to her most recent film, Diva, in 2005, Bening is also working on several upcoming film projects such as Under My Skin, Mrs. Harris, and Running with Scissors.
"The movie business is tough. It's driven by economics and economics are about trying to get a lot of people into the theater. That's the reality of the business, the culture we're in." Annette Bening.
- Golden Globe: Best Actress, Musical or Comedy, Being Julia, 2005
- National Board of Review: Best Actress, Being Julia, 2005
- British Academy: Best Actress, American Beauty, 1999
- Online Film Critics Society: Best Ensemble, American Beauty; shared with cast mates, 1999
- Screen Actors Guild: Female Actor in a Leading Role (Theatrical Motion Picture), American Beauty, 1999
- Screen Actors Guild: Cast (Theatrical Motion Picture), American Beauty; shared with cast mates, 1999
- London Film Critics Circle: Newcomer of the Year, 1991
- National Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actress, The Grifters, 1990
- Clarence Derwent Award: Most Outstanding Debut Performance, Coastal Disturbances, 1986
- Theater World Award, Coastal Disturbances, 1986