Annette Bening is an Oscar-nominated actress known for films like "The Grifters," "Bugsy," "American Beauty" and "The Kids Are All Right." Bening was born on May 29, 1958, in Topeka, Kansas, to A. Grant Bening, an insurance salesman, and Shirley Bening, a church singer. The youngest of four children, Bening has two brothers and one sister. The family grew up in San Diego, where Bening completed studies at Patrick Henry High School in just three years.
Bening was studying drama at a San Diego college when she got a job as a dancer in The Green Show outside San Diego's Old Globe Theatre. This experience led to a walk-on in a Shakespeare production and several plays with the San Diego Repertory Theatre. She moved to San Francisco to attend San Francisco University. After graduation, Bening was accepted by the American Conservatory Theatre where she trained and later joined the acting company. Bening moved to New York where she earned a Tony Award nomination and won the Clarence Derwent Award in 1986 for Outstanding Debut Performance of the Season for her work in Tina Howe's Coastal Disturbances.
Bening's breakthrough role came about when she was cast as a young hustler in the stylish film noir, "The Grifters" (1990). Although Bening's nude scenes got the lion's share of publicity, the film and Bening's performance were critically acclaimed. She earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for the role, as well as a National Society of Film Critics Award as Best Supporting Actress. Warren Beatty was so impressed that he sought her out for the role of Virginia in Bugsy (1991). During the making of that film, Bening and Beatty fell in love. After her divorce from first husband J. Steven White became final in 1991, she married the previously commitment-phobic Beatty in February 1992.
Bening took a three year break from her acting career to settle down with Beatty and start a family. When she returned, she co-starred with Beatty in the 1994 remake of the tearjerker, "Love Affair." She gained notice as a comedic performer in "The American President" in 1995 with Michael Douglas, and portrayed Queen Elizabeth in Ian McKellen's adaptation of "Shakespeare's Richard III" (1995).
Bening joined the wacky ensemble cast for "Mars Attacks!" in 1996. She starred in the terrorist thriller "The Siege" (1998), reportedly earning her $3 million, and as a woman who develops a psychic link with a serial killer (played by Robert Downey Jr.) in the dark psychological thriller, "In Dreams" (1999).
Also in 1999, she turned in a great performance as a materialistic suburban real estate agent in the darkly funny hit film, "American Beauty," earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. In 2000, she starred in "What Planet Are You From?" as a woman who marries an extraterrestrial invader, played by Garry Shandling. She won a Best Actress Golden Globe in 2005 for her performance in the comedy "Being Julia." Bening also received a Golden Globe Award and a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her role as Nic in the film "The Kids Are All Right" (2010). In 2016, Bening received another Golden Globe nomination for her role playing a single mom in "20th Century Women," a semi-autobiographical comedy-drama written and directed by Mike Mills.
Bening has also returned to the stage, starring in the comedy "The Female of the Species" at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in 2010, and co-starring with John Lithgow in the Public Theatre's "King Lear" at Shakespeare in the Park in New York in 2014. In 2019, she played the roles of Supreme Intelligence and Mar-Vell / Wendy Lawson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe's "Captain Marvel," which became her highest-grossing release. That year, Bening returned to the Broadway stage after a 32-year absence. She starred in the revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons alongside Tracy Letts at the Roundabout Theatre Company's American Airlines Theatre.
Annette currently serves as Vice Chair on the board of trustees for The Actors Fund.
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