Annette Bening

Annette Bening has reigned as one of Hollywood's leading ladies for nearly two decades, bringing her signature wit and cool confidence to nearly 20 films.

Annette has received three Oscar® nominations for her roles in Being Julia, The Grifters and American Beauty. In 2005, Annette brought home gold when she won a Golden Globe® for her role as stage diva Julia Lambert in Being Julia. Recently, Annette was honored as an acting icon at Premiere Magazine's 13th Annual Women in Hollywood ceremony.

Now, she is creating Oscar buzz once again for her stand-out performance in the film Running with Scissors.
Annette Bening and Oprah

Based on a best-selling book, Running with Scissors tells the intricate tale of Deirdre, a poet and unstable mother who slips into a world of psychosis. Deirdre, who believes her husband wants her dead, uses sedatives to escape her complicated life—all while seducing her female neighbor and shipping her son off to live with her psychiatrist.

Annette says she felt a great deal of responsibility playing Deirdre. "Every time I work, the responsibility is to just try to feel the character's life and be behind their eyes as much as possible," Annette says. "We don't have to judge the characters that we play."

While emotionally draining, Annette says playing the part was also very cathartic. "I think when you're at your best as an actor it is cathartic. So, the feeling at the end of the day is...'It's gone. It's out. I've done it'. And there is a feeling of satisfaction."
Annette Bening and Warren Beatty

Annette fell for her real-life leading man, actor Warren Beatty, while filming Bugsy in the early 1990s. Warren says he knew Annette would change his life just seconds after meeting her.

The happy Hollywood couple has been married for 14 years, and they have four children together. How does Annette balance a film career and family life?

"There are good days and bad days," she says. "I think every parent feels that. Some days, you feel that you're doing it the way you want to do it, and other days, you don't have as much patience."

As the youngest of four, Annette says she always wanted children. "That came first for me," she says. "When I envisioned acting and being a mom, I had a lot of worries that it would be really a hard thing to do together. But, I've found over the years, that I'm so fortunate because I can take such large amounts of time when I'm not shooting anything, and I can really be there for my kids."

Warren is also the kind of father that's always there for his children, Annette says. "He's a thoughtful [father]," she says.
Annette Bening and Oprah

Oprah says every time she sees Annette, she seems to be "more of herself" and doesn't seem to age! What's her secret?

"I like getting older," Annette says. "I think you sort of shed skins as you go along in life. You get into your 40s, and you feel like, 'OK, no more pretending.' You get to just be who you are."

At age 48, Annette is on the cusp of the big 5-0. "It just gets better," Oprah says.
Morgan Freeman

With a distinguished presence and quiet dignity, Academy Award®-winning actor Morgan Freeman has captivated audiences for decades. Oprah has never had the opportunity to share her stage with this Hollywood icon...until today!

Like Oprah, Morgan grew up in rural Mississippi and had big dreams at an early age. He says he knew he wanted to act by age 13, and his teachers encouraged him to pursue his passion.

After leaving home, Morgan moved to New York City to study dance and acting. For two decades, he struggled to make his mark while performing in plays and musicals. Then, in the early 1970s, the future four-time Oscar® nominee became a familiar face on television as "Easy Reader" on The Electric Company.

Morgan is best known for his touching portrayals of a convict named Red in The Shawshank Redemption, Miss Daisy's loyal chauffeur in Driving Missy Daisy, a Civil War soldier in Glory and an ex-boxer in Million Dollar Baby. He's even played God...twice!

To his family, Morgan is simply a husband, father of four and grandfather to 13 grandchildren.
Morgan Freeman and Oprah

As a boy growing up in rural Mississippi, Morgan says his mother used to tell him, "I'm going to take you to Hollywood." Years later, when Morgan was starting to make a name for himself in New York City, he landed a role on Broadway. When he saw his name in lights for the very first time, he says the first person he thought of was his mom.

"Every time something good happened to me, I would always report to my mother," he says. "So the first time my name was in lights was on Broadway, and I was walking down 44th or 45th Street and there was my name up on the marquee, and I said, 'Look, Ma!'"
Morgan Freeman and Oprah

After a series of small movie roles, Morgan got his first big break in film in the late 1980s. He was cast as a street thug named "Fast Black" in the movie Street Smart. Morgan says this character is his favorite of all time...and it has nothing to do with the Oscar® nomination he got for the role!

When Morgan was nominated for his first Oscar, he says no one in the industry knew who he was or where he came from. "A lot of people thought that they just found me on the street," he says.

Two years later, Morgan was excited to be nominated again for his role in Driving Miss Daisy. Though many people thought he'd take home the golden statuette, he lost to actor Daniel Day Lewis.

Morgan received his third Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Red in The Shawshank Redemption, which Oprah says is her favorite Morgan Freeman character. The third time was not the charm for this Hollywood legend.

Finally, in 2005, Morgan took home the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in Million Dollar Baby. "I was hoping I wouldn't win," he says. "I mean, how many nominations can you get without winning? You become famous for that, you know. ... My feeling about it is if you can find five outstanding performances in directing, acting, producing—just hand 'em out!"
Morgan Freeman

Morgan has played influential roles in many films, but he says it is his work in Glory that is his most important. In the Academy Award®-winning film, Morgan plays a soldier in the Civil War's first all-black volunteer company.

Morgan says he enjoyed doing the film because he likes to do movies that will broaden our perspective of who we are as people. "History in this country is very subjective. It's subjective anywhere, actually, to be fair," Morgan says. "And a lot of people saw this movie and told me that they wept for the simple reason they had no idea [about the story]."

Morgan says movies can be important teaching tools. "People will go and they'll watch and they'll learn things. And that's why I think Glory was the most important because so many people learned something they didn't know," Morgan says.
Morgan Freeman on his sailboat

When Morgan's not on a film set, he flies airplanes, is an avid racing fan and hits the open water in his 43-foot sailboat. When he sets sail in the Caribbean, Morgan drops anchor at the lovely island of Grenada.

Two years ago, Morgan's favorite tropical paradise was demolished by Hurricane Ivan. The fierce winds left 39 people dead and more than 18,000 people homeless. Nearly everything in Ivan's path was destroyed, causing nearly $900 million in damages.

Morgan couldn't let his beloved island suffer, so he took action. He formed the Grenada Relief Fund and called on some famous friends for help. Celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Alicia Keys and Ben Affleck submitted their favorite Caribbean recipes for a cookbook called Morgan Freeman and Friends: Caribbean Cooking for a Cause. Proceeds from the book will benefit Grenada's rebuilding efforts.
Morgan Freeman, Oprah and Chef Conny Andersson

For Morgan, the cookbook is a perfect labor of love. He's not only an enthusiast of Grenada, he's also a foodie! Morgan owns his own restaurant—Madidi—in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Morgan teamed up with Beverly Wilshire Executive Chef Conny Andersson to whip up one of his favorite desserts from the cookbook—banana beignets with pineapple carpaccio and vanilla bean ice cream!

"Delish!" Oprah says.
Lionel Richie and Oprah

Singing sensation Lionel Richie has won five Grammy awards and sold 100 million albums worldwide. His latest CD, Coming Home, is the highest selling album of his 30-year career and truly a homecoming of sorts.

"R&B is where the Commodores and Lionel Richie started," he says. "I've been calypso. We've danced on the ceiling. We've done 'All Night Long' and 'Hello,' but we haven't been back to just ground-floor R&B."

The songs on this record also reflect a more mature Lionel. "I'm older and wiser," he says. "We do it slowly now. When you're 19 to 35, everything's in a hurry. Now, 'All Night Long' is down to a fierce half hour."

Lionel is here to perform the album's first chart-topping single, "I Call It Love," which he says wasn't written for anyone in particular. In fact, he says this is the first album he's ever composed as a single man. "Some of the lyrics that I've written on this album I would not have written if I were married," he says.
Lionel Richie sings 'Dancing on the Ceiling'

In the '70s, Lionel burst onto the music scene as a member of the Commodores. As a solo artist, he dominated the '80s Billboard charts with hits like "All Night Long," "Say You Say Me," "Hello," and "Penny Lover."

"You can't have Lionel Richie in the house without grooving to one of his classics," Oprah says.

What did Lionel choose to close the show with? "Dancing on the Ceiling," of course!
FROM: Annette Bening, Oscar® Winner Morgan Freeman and Lionel Richie
Published on September 29, 2006


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