Annette Bening: ‘Sexual harassment scandal is a big wake up call for America’


Annette Bening considers the sexual harassment scandal sweeping Hollywood a “big wake up call” for America.

The Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool actress is closer to the distressing situation than many, considering she worked with Kevin Spacey, who has been accused of multiple sexual harassments and assaults, on American Beauty in 1999. She also worked with director James Toback on 1991 movie Bugsy, on the set of which she met her husband Warren Beatty. Toback is facing sexual misconduct allegations from stars including Julianne Moore, Rachel McAdams and Selma Blair.

Speaking about her new role at a recent luncheon in New York, Bening admitted she had been surprised by the claims made against Spacey and Toback, among others, but thinks of them as a “big wake up call for this country”.

“The fact that it’s happening in show business is, I guess, a good thing because then more people are aware of it but in fact it’s just a tiny sliver of this larger issue,” she told the guests at Le Cirque in Manhattan.

“I think it is really important that we have a conversation that’s not just filtered through the media because there are differences between – unwanted, coercive, disgusting, whatever you want to call it, behavior – and harassment and assault, and we have to be able to have conversations about that.”

Bening stars alongside Jamie Bell in the movie Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, which tells the story of real-life actress Gloria Grahame and her relationship with a younger English man.

While the 59-year-old actress has been nominated for an Oscar four times, she’s never won, but her latest offering is already tipped for success during awards season.

Asked whether she’d like to take home one of the golden statuettes, Bening smiled: “Sure, of course!”