Born: May 29, 1958 Topeka, Kansas, USA
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Annette Francine Bening was born in Topeka, Kansas on May 29, 1958. She grew up in California and graduated from San Francisco State University. She joined the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and her stage career took her to New York, where she eventually earned a Tony nomination for the 1987 play Coastal Disturbances.
Bening’s film debut was in the forgettable 1988 comedy The Great Outdoors with Dan Aykroyd. That was followed by 1989’s Valmont. Working opposite Colin Firth, the film suffered from the fact that it was based on the same material as the John Malkovich and Glenn Close film Dangerous Liaisons, which had beaten Valmont to the screen. Ironically, her work in Valmont caught the eye of Dangerous Liaisons’ director, Stephen Frears, and he cast her in his next project, 1990’s The Grifters, where she worked opposite John Cusack and Anjelica Huston. The role earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. 1990 also saw her work with Meryl Streep in Postcards from the Edge.
1991 was a busy and important year for Bening. She appeared in Guilty by Suspicion with Robert De Niro, Regarding Henry with Harrison Ford and Bugsy with famed Hollywood playboy Warren Beatty. Bening and Beatty’s onscreen chemistry was searing and off-screen she captured his heart. The couple married in 1992. It was the second marriage for Bening, who was previously married to J. Steven White from 1984 to 1991.
After taking a break to start a family, Bening returned to the screen in 1994 remaking Love Affair with Beatty. She played Queen Elizabeth in Richard III in 1995 and that same year portrayed the love interest of the Commander in Chief in The American President opposite Michael Douglas. She worked with Jack Nicholson on Mars Attacks! in 1996, and teamed up with Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington on The Siege in 1998. She worked with Aidan Quinn in 1999’s In Dreams and played a controlling housewife who loses all control in American Beauty opposite Kevin Spacey. That role would earn her another Academy Award nomination.
Bening started off the 2000’s with the comedy What Planet Are You From? opposite Garry Shandling. 2003 saw her in Open Range with Kevin Costner and in 2004 she starred in Being Julia. The role earned her critical acclaim and a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy. She also earned another Oscar nomination.
Annette played Jean Harris in Mrs. Harris in 2005 and made Running with Scissors in 2006 with Alec Baldwin. In 2008, Bening worked with Meg Ryan, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bette Midler and Candice Bergen on The Women. That was followed by 2009’s Mother and Child with Naomi Watts and Kerry Washington and 2010’s The Kids Are Alright with Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore.
Bening and Beatty have four children.
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