Five-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening appreciates that folks are mad she’s never won. She’s OK, though

Annette Bening is meeting the moment.

The acclaimed actor is currently in the midst of her fifth campaign for an Oscar statuette, this time for her intense and very physical performance in “Nyad,” based on the life of legendary and determined swimmer Diana Nyad.

Bening isn’t, however, considered the favorite to win this year. When asked during a recent interview with CNN about whether she’s as mad about that fact as some of her supporters are, she laughed heartily.

“I appreciate your rage, I applaud your rage, I support your rage,” she said.

She doesn’t, however, “live in rage,” she added.

Bening maintains that when it comes to the entertainment business, “you have to have a sense of humor about it.”

Annette Bening as Diana Nyad in "Nyad." - Liz Parkinson/Netflix
Annette Bening as Diana Nyad in "Nyad." - Liz Parkinson/Netflix

“One of the good things about this moment for me is that I can look back at 34 years ago when I first went to the Oscars and what that was like, and compare it to this time, so it does give me a certain perspective that allows me to just go with the flow,” she said. “I don’t really worry. I just am appreciative.”

Bening is referring to her first Academy Award-nominated role in 1990’s “The Grifters,” the Stephen Frears-directed crime drama in which she starred opposite John Cusack and Anjelica Huston. It was one of her first film roles, but Bening stole the spotlight and was soon landing lead roles, like in “Bugsy” (opposite her future husband Warren Beatty) and “The American President.”

Arguably Bening’s most iconic role came in 1999 and landed her a best lead actress Oscar nomination for playing the complex and uptight realtor Carolyn Burnham in “American Beauty.”

Looking back on the role – which she played opposite Kevin Spacey in his second Oscar-winnning performance, as Carolyn’s tortured husband Lester – Bening mentioned the “duality” in Carolyn as something that stood out in the character.

“She loved (him) so much and she wanted so much to connect with him. (That) was at the heart of it,” she said.

Annette Bening and Kevin Spacey in "American Beauty." - Dreamworks
Annette Bening and Kevin Spacey in "American Beauty." - Dreamworks

At the 2000 Oscars, Bening would lose out to Hilary Swank, who won best actress for “Boys Don’t Cry.” The same would happen five years later, when Bening was again nominated for best actress for “Being Julia,” and Swank snagged the trophy for “Million Dollar Baby.”

But Bening only has fond memories of the time and of making the often overlooked “Being Julia,” in which she got to portray a vindictive and calculating stage actress in 1930s London who somehow remains completely charming.

“I got the (“Being Julia”) script and read it and thought, ‘Are you kidding me? Am I really being asked me to do this? This is so cool! This is so rich. It’s so complex!’” she remembered.

The movie, directed by István Szabó, whom Bening called “the king of Hungarian cinema,” was filmed in Budapest in the summer of 2003. Bening’s children were young at the time and with her during production, which she called “quite an experience.”

“We still have lots of funny memories about being in Budapest at the time,” she said.It was a dream, really a dream.”

Bening’s career has only blossomed since then. She earned another Oscar nomination in 2011 for “The Kids Are All Right,” and had a string of roles that were met with acclaim but overlooked by the Academy – notably 2016’s “20th Century Women” and “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” in 2017.

Annette Bening in "Being Julia." - Alamy
Annette Bening in "Being Julia." - Alamy

Bening is far from done. Fresh from her acclaimed and very waterlogged turn in “Nyad” opposite fellow nominee Jodie Foster, she’s about to hit the small screen in her first-ever starring television role, opposite Sam Neill in the Peacock Original “Apples Never Fall,” based on the book by Liane Moriarty of “Big Little Lies” fame. In the show, Bening plays a retired tennis coach and mother who mysteriously goes missing in the series pilot.

This is the first time Bening has had a chance to explore a character over seven episodes.

“From an acting standpoint, I was delighted,” she said of the experience.

As Sunday’s Oscars approach, Bening said she is excited to “be a fan.”

“I love the movies this year. There’s a lot of really good movies,” she said, specifically calling out Japan’s nominated international feature “Perfect Days” and several short films as favorites.

“Some of what I get to do is be a fan and go up to people and say, ‘Wow, you did great!’”

Then comes the most satisfying part of it all, she said: “I get to go home, take my shoes off, hang out with my dog and my husband, and just walk away from it all.”

That is – if her decorated oeuvre is any indication – until her next acclaimed role throws her right back into it.

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