Annette Bening: We’re Gardenias
“We are all gardenias…there is an inner fragility that we all have as human beings. And as actors, we must have…softness, delicateness; we are sensitive. We have toughness and strength, but we have to be receptive. And that word ‘vulnerable’ (which I sort of hate) but it’s so important, because it’s that softness—that humanness—that when somebody watches us [they think] “Oh, that’s me! That’s me!” And that’s what you want. You want to bring people in to you.
“It’s like when you’re reading a book, and there’s a passage that tells a secret that only you thought you knew [and you think]: “Oh, I see! That’s something I thought only I felt, but that’s [written] there.” And that’s what we do. So preserve your softness and suppleness, your capacity to be hurt and rejected (because you get a lot of that in this business). But to be able to preserve that and…work in the profession…is so important.
“My husband [Warren Beatty] had said, [‘We are all gardenias’] to someone. It was particularly beautiful because he said it and I love him. But he’s also like—you know—a guy. So it’s the same for all of us—men and women, because we want to preserve that and… open ourselves up.
“Self preservation teaches you not to do that. And that’s why we’re scared, why we have nerves, and insecurity. That’s the human being inside of us saying, ‘Whoa, this is a scary situation.’ You’re in front of all these people; you could be judged. They could think you’re bad, or boring, or phony, or too big, or too small. Or all of those things that people will have their opinions—which they all do. So be able to maintain your own fragility, and at the same time have a profession and have a life — I’ll leave you with that.”