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ANNETTE BENING (Claire Cooper) received an Academy Award® nomination and was named Best Supporting Actress by the National Board of Review for her role in "The Grifters." This fall, she starred with Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis in the action drama "The Siege," and she is currently filming "American Beauty" with Kevin Spacey for DreamWorks. This March and April, Bening will be seen onstage in the production of Henrik Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.

In recent years, Bening has been seen in director Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!"; and starred in "The American President," opposite Michael Douglas, for director Rob Reiner (for which she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress/Musical or Comedy), and in the updated adaptation of Shakespeare's "Richard Ill," starring Ian McKellen. Her other films include "Love Affair," opposite Warren Beatty; "Bugsy," also opposite Warren Beatty for director Barry Levinson; "Regarding Henry," opposite Harrison Ford for director Mike Nichols; "Guilty By Suspicion," with Robert De Niro; "Valmont," directed by Milos Forman; and "Postcards From the Edge." She made her feature film debut in "The Great Outdoors," opposite Dan Aykroyd and John Candy.

Born in Topeka, Kansas and raised in San Diego, Bening was enrolled at a local college when she got a job as a dancer in "The Green Show," presented outside San Diego's famed Old Globe Theatre. This led to a walk-on in a Shakespeare production and two plays with the San Diego Repertory Theatre.

Following graduation from San Francisco State University, Bening was accepted by the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, where she trained and then joined the acting company. She also appeared in both summer Shakespeare festivals and regional productions. Her next career move took her to New York. For her performance in "Coastal Disturbances" (originally at the Second Stage, then on Broadway), she received a Tony nomination and won the Clarence Derwent Award for most outstanding debut performance of the season.

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