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Annette Carol Bening was born in May 29, 1958 in Topeka, Kansas. She is a two-time Tony- and four-time Academy Award-nominated actress, known for her roles in movies such as American Beauty, The Kids Are All Right, and 20th Century Women.
Bening spent her early childhood years in Wichita, Kansas, before moving to San Diego, California, in 1965. She graduated from Patrick Henry High School in 1975 and went on to study at San Diego Mesa College and finally attended San Francisco State University, graduating with a degree in theatre arts.
She began her career on stage in the 1980s. From 1980 to 1986, she would appear in regional productions for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival company, San Diego Repertory Theatre, the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, and the Denver Centre Theatre Company. Her stage credits during this time included Pygmalion, The Cherry Orchard, and Macbeth, starring as Lady Macbeth. She would make her Off-Broadway debut as Holly Dancer in Second Stage Theater’s production of Coastal Disturbances in November 1986. The production was granted a Broadway transfer, opening at the Circle in the Square Theatre in March 1987 and marking her Broadway debut. Bening received great critical acclaim along with a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play, as well as a Theatre World Award. She returned to Second Stage Theater in April 1988, taking on the role of Penny in Spoils of War, and wouldn’t return to the New York stage until July 2014, when she starred as Goneril in the Public’s Shakespeare in the Park production of King Lear. Her regional theatre credits include a 2009 production of Medea and 2010 production of The Female of the Species, both in Los Angeles.
On screen, Bening made her feature film debut in 1988’s The Great Outdoors and went on to be featured in 1989’s Valmont. Her big breakthrough came, however, when her role of Myra Langtry in The Grifters earned her an Academy Award nomination in 1991. From that point on, she became a regular in Hollywood films. She earned a second Oscar nomination in 2000 for her celebrated performance as Carolyn Burnham in American Beauty, a third for her starring role as Julia Lambert in Being Julia in 2005, and a fourth in 2011 for her performance as Nic in The Kids Are All Right. Over the course of her career, she has also received a total of eight Golden Globe nominations (winning for Being Julia and The Kids Are All Right) and an Emmy Award nomination in 2006 for her role as Jean Harris in HBO’s Mrs. Harris. Her other notable screen credits include Bugsy (1991), The American President (1995), Mars Attacks! (1996), Running with Scissors (2006), 20th Century Women (2017), and Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (2017).
Bening returned to Broadway, courtesy of Roundabout Theatre Company, to take on the role of Kate Keller in a revival of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at the American Airlines Theatre from April 4 through June 30, 2019, and earned her second Tony Award nomination.