Annette Bening Talks to CalArts Theater School Students about Life, Career

Annette Bening stayed to chat with students after her lecture.

Annette Bening (r) chats with CalArts students during her visit to the Theater School on Friday.

“Rehearse in your shoes. Get the right shoes for the production.” (Your back and feet will thank you for it later.)

That was just one of the bits of advice offered by acting great Annette Bening to CalArts’ School of Theater students and faculty at an all-school meeting last Friday in the Coffeehouse Theater on campus.

Bening gave practical, from-the-trenches insight on ways to approach the acting craft, and answered student questions on everything from balancing a career and family (she has four children with her husband Warren Beatty) to working with difficult people. She also poked fun at her own naïveté during the early part of careerfresh out of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco–about not having “a clue” about working in movies or television.

The visit was facilitated by acting faculty Mary Lou Rosato, who played the Nurse to Bening’s Medea in the recent UCLA Live! production. 24700 was fortunate to secure a seat during Bening’s talk, and we took away some sage advice that’s worth passing onto students of all creative disciplines:

  • On the importance of balance: “Have lives as well as your professional lives.”
  • On working on difficult productions or unpleasant co-workers: “You got to figure it out because [if you can't get along with people] you’re only screwing yourself…You have to figure out how to replace the head of that person you hate with someone you’re in love with.”
  • On how not to overthink on stage: “That’s the 5 zillion dollar question: shutting off the inner chatter…the whole objective of being in acting school is to [learn] to not think.”
  • On preparedness: “It’s evident when you are on time, are prepared…it really makes a difference. I’m a big proponent of professionalism.”

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