Annette Bening at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

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Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right.”

It’s all about the shoes.

“If I wear a certain pair of shoes, it affects the way I feel,” Annette Bening says. “I’ve heard that in theatre that it’s the most important thing to start with. It’s a combination about how the outside affects how you feel inside.”

Wearing a black and white David Meister cocktail length dress, Bening was accessorized with diamonds. You know she was feeling regal when she accepted The American Riviera Award at the 26th Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Roger Durling, the Film Fest’s Executive Director, moderated the evening.

This year, Bening is a Best Actress Oscar nominee for playing Julianne Moore’s lover in The Kids Are All Right.

It’s humbling to see an actress whose face moves. There seems to be no evidence of plastic surgery or popular facial fillers. From our front row seats at the awards evening, we could see every smile, tear and expression during the evening tribute.

Accompanied by her dreamy husband, Warren Beatty, Bening credits her director/writer, Lisa Cholodenko for the success of Kids. “A lot of it is the way she moved the camera, since a movie can go inside of somebody. A close-up is a joy for an actor. I felt very exposed, but if I am working in the right way, it will connect you to the audience.”

Usually glamorous in her films, Bening wore little makeup in this film. “It was kind of jarring when I first watched it. You never worry about that when you are doing a play. It took me a while to get used to it and in a way it was liberating. There are moments I feel vain, but when you love the story and you know what we are trying to dig out of it, then that’s the focus.”

She loves being a viewer. “When I see a movie that I enjoy, I usually relate to the female character and try not to idealize. When writing is good, you don’t judge. You want to get behind the character’s point of view. I love the opportunity to empathize. All of us (in our lives) are not at our best all the time.

“The fact that two women are partners is not even what this movie is all about. It’s really a classic structure about a couple who loves each other very much and who tries to keep the family together.

“Julianne (Moore) and I have both been married a long time. She is very professional and there was a mutual understanding to get this thing done. She had been with the project with Lisa for many years and knew it very well. A lot what you see was something we did in the moment when we were rehearsing.” Because the budget was bare-bones, it was shot in 23 days.

Bening’s honesty makes her even more beautiful.

“The insecurities never go away.”

She related a story about the first day of work with Mike Nichols and Harrison Ford. Mike started talking about how nervous he was. Harrison expressed his reservations and concerns.

“I thought what? I was naïve enough to think that they wouldn’t have them. Now, I’ve learned and understand that it never goes away. You have to learn to live with that. You never try to make it go away.”

Sue Facter writes about all things A-list. A contributor to ‘USA Today’ for 20 years, she writes for publications word-wide.

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Sue Facter writes about all things A-list for publications world-wide. Follow her on Twitter @TheFacter.

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