1. She began her career on the stage and was nominated for the 1987 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in Coastal Disturbances.
2. A four-time Academy Award-nominee for her roles in the films The Grifters , she won a BAFTA Award for American Beauty and Golden Globe Awards for Being Julia and The Kids Are All Right.
3. In 2006, she was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her performance as Jean Harris in Mrs. Harris.
4. That same year, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
5. Bening was born in Topeka, Kansas, the daughter of Shirley Katherine and Arnett Grant Bening.
6. Her mother was a church singer and soloist, and her father was a sales training consultant and insurance salesman. Her parents, natives of Iowa, were practicing Episcopalians and conservative Republicans.
7. She is of mostly German and English descent. Bening has one sister, Jane, and two brothers, Bradley and Byron.
8. The family moved to Wichita, Kansas in 1959, where she spent her early childhood.
9. In 1965, her father took a job with a company in San Diego, California, and they moved there.
10. She began acting in junior high school, playing the lead in The Sound of Music.
11. She graduated in 1975 from Patrick Henry High School, where she studied drama.
12. She then spent a year working as a cook on a charter boat taking fishing parties out on the Pacific Ocean, and scuba diving for recreation.
13. Bening attended San Diego Mesa College, then completed an academic degree in theatre arts at San Francisco State University.
14. Prior to becoming a film actress, Bening was a member of the acting company at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco while studying acting as part of the Advanced Theatre Training Program.
15. Bening also starred in productions of Pygmalion and The Cherry Orchard at the Denver Center Theatre Company during the 1985–86 season.
16. She made her Broadway debut in 1987, garnering a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in Coastal Disturbances.
17. Her second film appearance was as the Marquise de Merteuil in Valmont , opposite Colin Firth.
18. Her breakthrough role was in The Grifters , which starred John Cusack and Anjelica Huston, and earned Bening a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
19. In 1994, Bening and Beatty starred in Love Affair, which also featured Katharine Hepburn.
20. In 1998, she co-starred with Denzel Washington and Bruce Willis in The Siege.
21. The biggest critical and commercial success of her career thus far was the 1999 film American Beauty, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture and was directed by Sam Mendes.