Warren Beatty: Not Running

The most handsome candidate for the U.S. presidency has officially dropped out of the race.

“I’m not running now,” actor Warren Beatty says in the new Vanity Fair, effectively ending the is-he-or-isn’t-he? game surrounding his possible candidacy.

The celeb’s spouse, meanwhile, potential Oscar nominee Annette Bening is also getting out the race — the Hollywood rat race, that is. The “American Beauty” star — pregnant with her fourth child by Beatty — tells More magazine that she plans to take at least 18 months off from acting. She says the decision made her feel “kind of liberated.”

No word if Beatty feels the same about his nonpresidential run. Even though he was never really in the race, Beatty created a stir late last summer when he hinted to The New York Times that he may be ready for a new (presidential) role.

But in the Vanity Fair interview published Monday, the 63-year-old actor/filmmaker finally put the flight-of-fancy to rest.

Beatty, whose reputation for insecurity about media coverage is well known (as is his reputation for romancing his leading ladies, from Diane Keaton to Madonna), did not rule out vying for the Oval Office at a later date, however.

“I think the question is: Can I be more effective at another time? Whether that is in a year or two years, who knows?” he tells Vanity Fair contributing editor Peter Biskind.

A lifelong Democrat, Beatty tells the magazine that he considered running either on the Democratic or independent tickets but ultimately believed that if he failed in the political arena, it could be a setback for the “unfashionably liberal ideas” that he supports, including campaign finance reform. Still, he believes that his brief foray into politics, such as it was, has had a positive effect on the 2000 presidential campaign.

“I felt good about speaking up,” Beatty says. “I wouldn’t feel good if I hadn’t. It seems to me that the effect has been positive, that I’ve not yet made too big a fool of myself — at least I don’t think I have.”

Last fall, at the height of public interest in Beatty‘s possible candidacy, the Los Angeles Times published an article titled, “The Leadership Style of Warren Beatty,” examining (just for fun) Beatty‘s track record as a Hollywood filmmaker for possible clues as to how he might run his campaign. Among the factoids published in the article were the following:

* Beatty‘s behind-the-scenes work on later films, including some he didn’t direct (the 1987’s bomb “Ishtar“), “earned him a reputation as one of Hollywood’s most controlling, difficult and self-indulgent filmmakers.”

* Colleagues say he “can take forever to make decisions and often second-guess everyone,” and he is “notorious for taking over direction of movies he stars in.”

* Beatty‘s 1990 film “Dick Tracy” was cited by Jeffrey Katzenberg in his famous “internal memo” as the kind of out-of-control movie that studios shouldn’t make anymore.