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Annette Bening interview: Beauty and the Beatty; Annette Bening has it all - great looks, a brilliant career and the man no other could land, Warren Beatty. She tells IVAN WATERMAN about her life.

She is the woman who tamed notorious Lothario Warren Beatty - the man whose

string of female conquests reads like a list of Hollywood's Who's Who - and she doesn't suffer fools gladly.

Annette Bening is both a mum and a Tinseltown star in her own right and today she looks dazzling in a black trouser suit, her red hair cut boyishly short. She's 40, has just become a mum again for the third time and could get away with playing a 30 year old. No problem.

In her new movie The Siege, she plays a woman who will go to any lengths - including sleeping with the enemy - to get what she wants. So, is she really a tough cookie? Is she as hard as she plays? "Look, I can be ruthless, but for what I believe to be the right reasons," she admits.

Born in Kansas and raised in San Diego, California, Bening is now pure Beverly Hills, but she really hit the public square in the face when she strolled naked into John Cusack's arms in Stephen Frears' superb sting caper The Grifters. That performance in 1990 earned her an Academy Award Nomination, a year before she met Beatty on the set of Bugsy.

The chemistry between the two of them on-set was instant and the rest, as they say in all the best movies, is history.

Today they have three children Kathlyn, six, Ben, four, and the latest arrival, baby Isabel. The man they said would never marry is now a happily contented 61-year-old husband and dad.

Bening and Beatty's lives are totally intertwined. They even share an office together off Mulholland Drive in Beverly Hills, just down the road from their fabulous enclosed spread in the winding valleys overlooking the city.

"I didn't have any preconceptions about him. He didn't have any about me either," Annette says defiantly. "This wasn't about how many women he had been out with. Sure he likes women. Why shouldn't he? He makes you feel good. Well, he made me feel good!

"In fact, he is very committed to whatever he does and that includes being a father. He wants to do things well. I think we both knew pretty early on in Bugsy what was going on between us.

"We were very glad when the secret leaked out. It's tough trying to hide the fact you're going out with Warren Beatty but I never knew how much I valued my privacy until we started dating. Now I just want to keep our kids away from it."

Did Beatty take to being a dad? "Sure. He did the nappy thing. Having babies changed our lives. When Kathlyn was born I bought him a book of lullabies and he played them for her on the piano. He did the same for our new baby."

In her latest film The Siege, she plays feisty CIA operative Elise Kraft who teams up with FBI top gun Anthony Hubbard (Denzel Washington) and gung-ho patriot General William Devereaux (Bruce Willis) to combat a squad of terrorists who are set to blow New York to bits.

The movie, directed by Edward Zwick, brought the Big Apple to a standstill during filming. Times Square and 42nd Street were closed down while some of the biggest bangs and stunts ever witnessed were filmed.

Downing Stadium on Randall's Island became home to a thousand extras dressed as soldiers and Brooklyn Bridge was even closed to film troops entering the city.

Bening took her research seriously enough to spend time with a real female agent and learned to speak a splattering of Arabic. "We had to be credible," she says.

"I got to meet this woman who had just stopped working undercover for the CIA and she was tremendously eye opening. While the stuff we used isn't anything like classified I think we made our point about how the authorities can act and react."

Annette worked again with Beatty in the much savaged romantic adventure Love Affair. Not surprisingly, they have no plans to work together again but she says, "I think if you're the woman who happens to be married to Warren Beatty you're on a hiding to nothing in almost every situation. There is a long, long queue of people waiting to get at you.

"I have had to put up with that for years and don't expect any change. If you work together it's like standing there with a sign saying, `Come on and throw something'.

Her next movie is Neil Jordan's paranormal drama In Dreams in which she plays a woman who can read other people's thoughts. "There is so much of our make-up which is impossible to explore. It's trying to penetrate the impenetrable," she says.

Her career may not have hit the heights expected of her after the Oscar nominated Grifters but Bening remains happy with her lot.

"I already have my three best awards at home," she says. "I'm a better person when I am with them."
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Waterman, Ivan
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 8, 1999
Words:831
Previous Article:Jane Horrocks interview: Little voice.. a big noise; In her new film, Jane Horrocks proves that she has something to shout about in Hollywood. YORK...
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