Annette Bening has close connections to two of the alleged predators exposed in the recent spate of sexual-misconduct allegations. She worked with Kevin Spacey on the acclaimed “American Beauty” in 1999 and fell in love with husband Warren Beatty on the set of “Bugsy,” which was penned by filmmaker James Toback. Toback has been accused by dozens of women, including Julianne Moore, Selma Blair and Rachel McAdams, of sexual misconduct.
At a chic luncheon at Le Cirque celebrating her buzzed-about performance in “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool,” Bening said she was surprised by the allegations but looks at all of them as a “big wakeup call for this country.” The mother of four stressed that it’s important to remember this goes on in every industry but “the fact that it’s happening in show business is, I guess, a good thing because then more people are aware of it but in fact it’s just a tiny sliver of this larger issue.”
“I think it is really important that we have a conversation that’s not just filtered through the media because there are differences between – unwanted, coercive, disgusting, whatever you want to call it, behavior – and harassment and assault, and we have to be able to have conversations about that,” she adds.
In her latest flick, Bening plays real-life film-noir actress Gloria Grahame who embarks on a romance with a younger English man (Jamie Bell). (“The Big Heat” actress had an unusual personal life; her second husband was director Nicholas Ray and her fourth husband was Ray’s son, Anthony).
Naturally, the Bening watched all of Grahame’s films and said one thing stood out.
Hollywood stars accused of sexual harassment and assault
“She was the bad-girl femme fatal, and the number of times she was hit and beaten up in those movies and the way it was treated with such … it was off-handed, there was something about that, watching that, that really struck me,” Bening explains.
“The American President” star has been nominated for an Oscar four times but has never won, although “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” may do the trick, and after some cajoling, Bening admits that it would be OK to finally win one.
“Sure, of course,” she conceded.
With Nicki Gostin