Annette Bening doesn’t toot her own horn much, but when you examine the arc of her career, her achievements are pretty extraordinary.

In an industry where traditionally too many female stars age out like athletes, relegated to supporting or character parts over time, Bening challenges that pattern. She started late and grew, with some of her biggest and most memorable roles happening in her fifties.

She was already 32 when she finally broke through in Stephen Frears’ “The Grifters” (1990), and the only thing that’s stopped her since is marriage to actor/director Warren Beatty and motherhood.

Many in Hollywood may have doubted their union would endure, given Beatty’s longstanding bachelorhood and legendary status as a ladies’ man. But over two decades and four children later, they are still together.

Growing up in California, Annette always loved the theater, and got her initial training on the stage, a medium where she’s always felt at home. Movies simply weren’t her focus at the outset.

As she recalls it: “I didn't picture myself as a movie actress. I began to think about it around college. I remember thinking, ‘Well somebody has to be in them,’ so maybe I could do that eventually. It's all been a surprise.”

A very happy surprise.

Beyond her prodigious talent, Bening is uncommonly wise about her life and work, so it makes sense that in this heartfelt tribute, her words accompany her pictures. Annette Bening, bravo. And keep going!

“A great actor is a thing of mystery.”

“I never speak for my husband, and I never speak for my children. It's a rule. Believe me, it is.”

“I love the luxury of the camera. The camera does so much for you. I like the secrets a camera can tell.”

“Yes, I know I’ve played these women, but Im not really conniving at all.”

“I feel like nothing is held back when I’m in front of a camera. That’s my job.”

“Movies are like lightning in a bottle, and when you can, you always want to catch a surprising moment.”

“I am really looking forward, as I get older and older, to being less and less nice.”

“I think that when you’re at your best as an actor, it is cathartic.”

“If you can open people’s hearts first, then maybe people’s minds get opened after that.”

“Find the story you want to tell.”

“You get into your forties and you feel like, ‘OK, no more pretending.’ You get to just be who you are.”

“I feel really lucky that I’m able to pursue the work that I love.”

“I fell in love with the theater because for me, it was a combination of big ideas and feeling.”

“I like things that I feel comfortable in.”

“I do have to take care of myself, not only because I’m in the movies, just for mental health reasons. I exercise for me.”

“I act, but I’m a mother first and a wife second.”

“When I look at women older than I am...women that I admire, I think, ‘Oh, that's how I’m going to be.’ I’m not scared. I want to be that.”

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