28 Jul Warren Beatty – A Life Well Scripted
Henry Warren Beatty, born March 30, 1937 is an American actor and filmmaker whose career spans over six decades. He has been nominated for fifteen Academy Awards, including four for Best Actor, four for Best Picture, two for Best Director, three for Original Screenplay, and one for Adapted Screenplay – winning Best Director for Reds (1981). Beatty is one of only two people (Orson Welles being the other) to have been nominated for acting in, directing, writing, and producing the same film, and he did so twice: first for Heaven Can Wait (with Buck Henry as co-director), and again with Reds.
Eight of the films he has produced have earned 53 Academy nominations, and in 1999, he was awarded the Academy’s highest honor, the Irving G. Thalberg Award. Beatty has been nominated for eighteen Golden Globe Awards, winning six, including the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, which he was honored with in 2007. Among his Golden Globe-nominated films are Splendor in the Grass (1961), his screen debut, and Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Shampoo (1975), Heaven Can Wait (1978), Reds (1981), Dick Tracy (1990), Bugsy (1991), Bulworth (1998) and Rules Don’t Apply (2016), all of which he also produced.
Director and collaborator Arthur Penn described Beatty as “the perfect producer”, adding, “He makes everyone demand the best of themselves. Warren stays with a picture through editing, mixing and scoring. He plain works harder than anyone else I have ever seen.”
Henry Warren Beatty was born March 30, 1937, in Richmond, Virginia. Beatty’s older sister is the actress, dancer and writer Shirley MacLaine. Beatty became interested in movies before his teens, when he often accompanied his sister to theaters. One film that had an important early influence on him was The Philadelphia Story (1940), which he saw when it was re-released in the 1950s. He noticed a strong resemblance between its star, Katharine Hepburn, and his mother, in both appearance and personality, saying that they symbolized “perpetual integrity.” Another film that affected him was Love Affair (1939), which starred one of his favorite actors, Charles Boyer. He found it “deeply moving,” and recalls that “This is a movie I always wanted to make.” He did remake Love Affair in 1994, in which he starred alongside Annette Bening and Katharine Hepburn.
MacLaine noted—“he’s more comfortable behind the camera … He’s in the total-control aspect. He has to have control over everything.” Beatty doesn’t deny that need; in speaking about his earliest parts, he said “When I acted in films I used to come with suggestions about the script, the lighting, the wardrobe, and people used to say ‘Waddya want, to produce the picture as well?’ And I used to say that I supposed I did.”
Beatty was a star football player in high school and turned down 10 scholarships in order to study liberal arts and eventually enrolled in acting school.
Beatty enlisted in the California Air National Guard on February 11, 1960 under his original name Henry W. Beaty. On January 1, 1961, he was given a dishonorable discharge from the Air National Guard and the United States Air Force Reserve. This made him ineligible for the draft and any military service.
At age 29, Beatty produced and acted in Bonnie and Clyde, which would be released in 1967. Bonnie and Clyde went on to be a critical and commercial success, despite the early misgivings by studio head Jack Warner, who put up the production money. The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, and seven Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor.
In 1978, Beatty directed, produced, wrote and acted in Heaven Can Wait (1978) (sharing co-directing credit with Buck Henry). The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Adapted Screenplay. It also won three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture and Best Actor.
Beatty’s next film was Reds (1981), received 12 Academy Award nominations – including four for Beatty (for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Original Screenplay), winning three; Beatty won for Best Director, Maureen Stapleton won for Best Supporting Actress (playing anarchist Emma Goldman), and Vittorio Storaro won for Best Cinematography. Beatty won the Golden Globe Award for Best Director.
Under his second production company, Mulholland Productions, Beatty next produced, directed and played the title role of comic strip-based detective Dick Tracy in the 1990 film of the same name. The film received positive reviews and was one of the highest-grossing films of the year. It received seven Academy Award nominations, winning three for Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, and Best Original Song.It also received four Golden Globe Award nominations, including Best Motion Picture.
In 1991, he produced and starred as the real-life gangster Bugsy Siegel in the critically and commercially acclaimed Bugsy, directed by Barry Levinson, which was nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor; it later won two of the awards for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. Beatty has stated that he and Annette Bening were very professional during the filming, after which, what has turned out to be a tremendous love affair.
He knew he wanted to marry her right away. He is 22 years older than Bening, however, she was always interested in older men. Although, he is famous for womanizing…Beatty reports that his life was structured to avoid divorce, not avoid marriage. It is his contention he was waiting for the perfect match. Bening is herself and not phony or fake in the light of success.
Later in 2001, he had a poor box office performance of Town & Country (2001), and he did not appear in or direct another film for 15 years.
Rules Don’t Apply (2016), is a fictionalized true-life romantic comedy about Howard Hughes, the film was also a commercial disappointment.
In 2017, Beatty reunited with his Bonnie and Clyde co-star Faye Dunaway at the 89th Academy Awards, in celebration of the film’s 50th anniversary. After being introduced by Jimmy Kimmel, they walked out onto the stage to present the Best Picture Award. They had been given the wrong envelope, leading Dunaway to incorrectly announce La La Land as Best Picture, instead of the actual winner, Moonlight. This became a social media sensation, trending all over the world. In 2018, Beatty and Dunaway returned to present Best Picture at the 90th Academy Awards, earning a standing ovation upon their entrance, making jokes about the previous year’s flub. Without incident, Beatty announced The Shape of Water as the winner.
Beatty has been married to actress Annette Bening since 1992. They have four children: two daughters and two sons. One of their children is transgender. Beatty reports “she pulls out the best of him and is his superior half”. After viewing a dozen interviews with Beatty, it is safe to say, he is not comfortable ‘being himself’ on camera. Portraying a character or directing suits him better. Reportedly, his net worth is $74 million.