Annette Carol Bening
May 29, 1958
Topeka, Kansas, U.S.
|Education||San Diego Mesa College|
San Francisco State University (BA)
American Conservatory Theater (MFA)
J. Steven White
(m. 1984; div. 1991)
Annette Carol Bening (born May 29, 1958) is an American actress. She began her career on stage with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival company in 1980, and played Lady Macbeth in 1984 at the American Conservatory Theater. She was nominated for the 1987 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her Broadway debut in Coastal Disturbances and for the 2019 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for All My Sons. She is a four-time Academy Award nominee for the films The Grifters (1990), American Beauty (1999), Being Julia (2004), and The Kids Are All Right (2010). In 2006, she received a film star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Bening won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for American Beauty, two Golden Globe Awards for Being Julia and The Kids Are All Right, and was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for Mrs. Harris. 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.
Bening was born in Topeka, Kansas, the daughter of Shirley Katherine (née Ashley) and Arnett Grant Bening. Her mother was a church singer and soloist, and her father was a sales training consultant and insurance salesman. Her parents, natives of Iowa, were practicing Episcopalians and conservative Republicans. She is of mostly German and English descent.
The youngest of four children, she has an older sister Jane, and two older brothers Bradley and Byron. The family moved to Wichita, Kansas, in 1959, where she spent her early childhood. In 1965, her father took a job with a company in San Diego, California, and they moved there.
She began acting in junior high school, playing the lead in The Sound of Music. She graduated in 1975 from Patrick Henry High School, where she studied drama. She then spent a year working as a cook on a charter boat taking fishing parties out on the Pacific Ocean, and scuba diving for recreation. Bening attended San Diego Mesa College, then graduated with a degree in Theatre Arts at San Francisco State University.
Bening began her career on stage with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival company in 1980, and appeared in plays at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. She was a member of the acting company at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco while studying acting as part of the Advanced Theatre Training Program. There, she starred in such productions as Shakespeare's Macbeth as Lady Macbeth. Bening also starred in productions of Pygmalion and The Cherry Orchard at the Denver Center Theatre Company during the 1985–86 season. She made her Broadway debut in 1987, garnering a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play and receiving a Theatre World Award for her performance in Coastal Disturbances. Bening made her film debut in The Great Outdoors (1988), starring Dan Aykroyd and John Candy. Her next role was as the Marquise de Merteuil in Valmont (1989) opposite Colin Firth.
She made her breakout role in The Grifters (1990), in which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In 1991, she portrayed Virginia Hill in Barry Levinson's biopic Bugsy, alongside Warren Beatty. Bening co-starred with Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry. In 1994, Bening and Beatty starred together again, in Love Affair. In 1995, Bening played the lead actress in The American President, with Michael Douglas, a role she followed with Tim Burton's sci-fi spoof Mars Attacks! (1996), and The Siege (1998), a thriller with Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis. Bening starred in Sam Mendes' directorial debut film American Beauty (1999). The film won five Academy Awards, including for Best Picture. For her performance, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. Bening starred in other films, including In Dreams (1999) and What Planet Are You From? (2000).
In 1999, Bening returned to the stage for the first time in 10 years playing the title role in Hedda Gabler at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times praised her performance, saying "Bening uses her vocal instrument to fine effect, without throwing it around. . . . In the movies you don’t always hear what Bening can do with that voice, especially when she’s playing virtuous, “sensible” types. . . . But Ibsen's antiheroine—thwarted sensualist, a woman wrestling with her inner troll, belle of a ball that never comes—is neither virtuous nor sensible. She's no easy-to-read villain, either, nor a mere vindictive brat, though plenty of actresses have reduced her thus. Bening lays into the venomous sarcasm mighty heavily, but she's cagey enough to avoid reductive extremes." 
Bening played Sue Barlow in Open Range (2003). She played the title role in Being Julia (2004), in which she won a Golden Globe, NBR Best Actress, was a runner-up for NYFCC and was nominated by SAG and for the Academy Award for her performance. She was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for her role of Jean Harris the 2005 HBO film Mrs. Harris. She replaced Julianne Moore to star in the film adaptation of Running with Scissors (2006), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe. Bening starred in The Women (2008) remake. In 2009, Bening starred in a new interpretation of the Euripides classic Medea at UCLA's Freud Playhouse. She received positive reviews for her performance in the independent film Mother and Child (2009).
In 2010, she starred in Joanna Murray-Smith's comedy The Female of the Species at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Later that year, Bening received strong critical acclaim for her performance in The Kids Are All Right, with several reviewers noting that she "deserves an Oscar" for her "sublime" performance. For her role, Bening won a Golden Globe, NYFFC Best Actress, was runner-up for NSFC, and was nominated by SAG and BAFTA and for the Academy Award.
In 2012, Bening's audiobook recording of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway was released at Audible.com. In 2014, she starred in Shakespeare's King Lear at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, as part of the Public Theatre's Free Shakespeare in the Park. It marked her first New York stage appearance in twenty years. In 2016, Bening starred in Mike Mills's comedy-drama 20th Century Women alongside Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, and Billy Crudup. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance In 2017, she appeared in Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool as Gloria Grahame alongside Jamie Bell, Vanessa Redgrave, and Julie Walters. She was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance.
In 2019, 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. The play opened on April 4, 2019, and closed on June 23, 2019.
Bening married choreographer James Steven White on May 26, 1984. They divorced in 1991. Bening married Warren Beatty on March 3, 1992. They have four children.
Awards and nominations
|1990||Best Supporting Actress||The Grifters||Nominated|
|1999||Best Actress||American Beauty||Nominated|
|2004||Best Actress||Being Julia||Nominated|
|2010||Best Actress||The Kids Are All Right||Nominated|
|2006||Lead Actress – Miniseries or a Movie||Mrs. Harris||Nominated|
|1987||Best Featured Actress in a Play||Coastal Disturbances||Nominated|
|2019||Best Actress in a Play||All My Sons||Nominated|
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- Scott, A. O. (May 7, 2010). "In a Melancholy Los Angeles, 'La Ronde' of Motherhood". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
- "She's So Under the Gun, She Can't Leave Her Desk". The New York Times. March 1, 2010.
- "At the Movies: The Kids Are All Right". ABC Australia. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
- Gordon, David (May 20, 2014). "Annette Bening, Jessica Hecht, and More Will Join John Lithgow in Shakespeare in the Park's King Lear". TheaterMania.com. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
- "Annette Bening, Jessica Collins, Jessica Hecht Will Be John Lithgow's Daughters in King Lear". Playbill. May 20, 2014. Archived from the original on July 30, 2014. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
- McNary, Dave (May 14, 2015). "Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning Join '20th Century Women'". Variety.
- "Board of Trustees". Actors Fund. February 11, 2016. Retrieved April 26, 2020.
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