Annette Bening refuses to follow the current tide of portraying surface-level “strong” characters.

The Oscar winner, who stars in true sports story “Nyad,” told The New York Times’ T Magazine that her filmography centering on “challenging” characters is not trendy, it’s just what appeals to her.

“It’s not about quote-unquote ‘strong women,’” Bening said. “That’s really boring, to only have stories about strong people. We need to know: What are their faults? Their blind spots? We all have them.”

Bening transforms into Diana Nyad, an openly gay athlete who famously swam from Cuba to Florida at age 60. “Free Solo” documentary filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin helm the true story, adapted by Julia Cox from Nyad’s memoir “Find a Way.” Jodie Foster co-stars alongside Bening as Nyad’s coach Bonnie Stoll.

Bening told T Magazine that she was “wanting to portray her in a way that’s authentic, but at the same time have some laughs and tell a story that people enjoy.”

“It was liberating,” Bening said of playing Nyad.

Actress Foster told Vanity Fair earlier this year that Bening “faced all the hardest challenges” playing a real-life athlete.

“Swimming in the water for hours and hours, stomaching salt water, fluctuating body temperatures, wearing that weird silicone mask, long hours in every weather condition, day and night—and all of it in a bathing suit,” Foster said. “That’s my worst nightmare. I found myself bugging the ADs to get her out of the water for breaks. She just kept lifting her thumbs up saying she was fine. I was so worried her body would betray her iron mind, but it never happened. That woman has the strongest will I’ve ever seen on a movie set.”

Co-director Vasarhelyi also addressed the allegedly inflated claims of Nyad’s 110-mile swim, telling The Hollywood Reporter that the film is “not about a record” but instead about Nyad’s tenacity to find purpose as an aging woman.

“It’s about a woman who wakes up at 60 and realizes she’s not done. And that woman has flaws,” Vasarhelyi said. “I think that if we were dealing with a man, people wouldn’t be picking on him quite as much. But Diana acknowledges her shortcomings and I respect that.”

Read the IndieWire review here.

Leave a comment