OnlyOnAOL: Warren Beatty swoons over his wife Annette Bening
By: Donna Freydkin
His last foray into directing resulted in 1998's "Bulworth," with star Warren Beatty playing a loose cannon politician who orders his own murder.
Nearly twenty years later, Beatty is back, playing billionaire Hollywood eccentric Howard Hughes in "Rules Don't Apply," a funny, beautifully shot ode to the golden age of Hollywood. He plays a supporting role in a film headlined by Lily Collins, as a wide-eyed innocent who sets out to be a movie star. (Watch our interview with Collins above).
Having just premiered the film at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles, Beatty was both ebullient and thoughtful during an afternoon conversation.
"People are saying, how do you feel about the response to the movie? I would be kind of silly if I said I didn't feel good. It does make one feel good when you've done something and people seem to like it. Sometimes you wonder if people are being nice but no, I believe them. So that's good," he says.
The film isn't the result of any kind of fixation with Hughes, famous for his bold-faced relationships, his obsessive-compulsive disorder, and his mania for aviation.
"I wouldn't use the word fascinated as much as I would use the word amused," says Beatty, whose first film was 1959's "Splendor in the Grass."
In a lot of ways, "Rules Don't Apply is a look back at Beatty's own time in Tinseltown and what things were like back then.
He personally never met Hughes, but, says Beatty, "I feel like I've met everyone who did ever meet him. I loved to hear these stories about Hughes. They did make me laugh. They made me have some sympathy for his predicament of inheriting great wealth and having complete freedom. I feel sympathetically towards him. He represents something in what I would call in capitalism or finance or business that I think is not insignificant. I wanted to do a movie about the time when I came to Hollywood. There was something in me that wanted express something in relation to what was happening at that time, the burgeoning of feminism in the late '50s which changed a lot of our rules and caused us to – this is all responsible for what we called the sexual revolution. I wanted to do a story about that period of my life," he says.
Coincidentally, his wife Annette Bening's dazzling "20th Century Women" is also out this winter, and she plays Collins' mother in "Rules." So it begs the question: Did she have to audition? This elicits a burst of appreciative laughter from Beatty.
"I screen test for her every day. I got the part! I would say that she is the – and I don't think there is a better actress alive – I couldn't agree with you more about '20th Century Women.' She's a great, great actress and I would add that she's a great, great mother and a great, great wife," says Beatty, who has four kids with Bening.
"Rules Don't Apply" is drastically different from the last time Beatty ventured behind the camera, by design.
"When I made 'Bulworth,' the intention was to make it contemporaneous in style. When I made it, 'Rules Don't Apply' is in retrospect. It's a period movie. It's an old-fashioned movie. I shot in what I would call the style that movies were shot in during that period. Every picture has its own point of view. I would call it, intentionally old-fashioned," says Beatty.