The 25th Oscars ceremony, held in 1953, was the first ever televised. A fact that the Film Academy forgot to share with many actors, who appeared that night not as well-groomed as they would have liked. That happened to Gloria Grahame, established star of that classic Hollywood, went up to collect her first Oscar for Captives of evil and without looking at the camera he said “thank you” and left. “She was wearing almost no makeup,” recalls and justifies actress Annette Bening who now plays Grahame in her last days in the film Movie stars don’t die in Liverpool.
That night Gloria Grahame couldn’t let the world see her natural. In fact, among the thousand legends surrounding the actress, one of the most real was her obsession with physical appearance that led her to resort to cosmetic surgery or home tricks (such as putting paper under her lip) more than usual. The anecdote that occurred in 1953 is totally current today. Like the one that tells the reason why he lost the role of Born yesterday to Judy Holliday: because she refused to go alone in a limousine with the great Hollywood boss of the time, Howard Hughes.
Annette Bening believes that Grahame suffered from all the bad practices, abuses and stereotypes that have come to light today after the Harvey Weinstein scandal. They called her “the girl who can’t say no” for her role in Oklahoma, but he said no many times and paid for it. “Although at that time it was even worse, the pressure on beauty, age and women is also savage today,” says the 59-year-old actress who had been trying to play this actress for more than 20 years who was cut off from Hollywood by a personal life she never spoke of. Another trait that Bening understands and shares with Grahame. “You can go online and see a thousand testimonials about her stormy life, but there are no interviews of her talking about how she felt,” she says, referring to but not wanting to name the darkest episode of Gloria Grahame, when her second husband, director Nicholas Ray found her in bed with his 13-year-old son, whom a decade later she would end up marrying and having two children.
Although Bening’s life has been much quieter – she has been married to Warren Beatty for 25 years and has four children – if the actress has been characterized for something, it is also for her “privacy”. He has never talked about his private life because he feels that his work is his way of opening up to the world.
And so it has been good for him. “But things have changed so much since I started,” he laments, looking back on his three-decade career. “Now there are many more media, technology… all trying to fill so many spaces with content. The work we do as actors has nothing to do with this, with the interviews. And glamor, in the old sense of the word, is increasingly a commodity. We are more and more on the commercial side of this and it is very sad for our art ”.
In spite of everything, she knows that she is lucky. Unlike Gloria Grahame, the last decade may have been Annette Bening’s best professionally. In the 2000s, she took a lot of breaks to take care of her children and was always afraid if she could come back. Now that fear has passed. “In a way, I think I’m lucky that I didn’t get started in social media time and I don’t have to do things that I don’t want to do,” she explains.
You don’t have to struggle to get “small town plays to survive,” as Gloria Grahame did. He believes that the moment of stereotypical roles, “the fatal Woman, the good mother, the bad mother, the whore… ”that Grahame suffered, and that she has also lived through, has passed. And she is convinced that, although the importance of image and appearance remains strong, she will be able to continue acting all her life.
“I have vanity, of course, we all have it, but I have always thought that I would be an actress all my life and what interests me is to enjoy my age,” she says and uses another lady from the cinema as an example. Vanessa Redgrave, who I just worked with [en Las estrellas de cine no mueren en Liverpool], He is 80 years old ”. That is what it aspires to do. “We all have vanity and the abnormal thing would be not to have it, but there is a scale of how much you can worry about your image. In my case, my great concern is to do the work that interests me ”.