Warren Beatty keeps the mystique

Britannia Awards 2011

In recent years, Warren Beatty has joined the company of the entertainment select whose august faces are underlit by the glow of commemorative statuettes. The Stanley Kubrick is only the latest award.

These tributes usually draw our hero into definitive relief among the cross-references of film clips, fond reminiscences, testimonials and gentle ribbing. As Jack Nicholson joked at the AFI life achievement tribute to Beatty in 2008 when referring to him as “the pro”: “What else do you call a guy who’s won more awards than he’s made pictures?”

Pitted against a slew of major acknowledgments, which include 14 Oscar nominations and one win (for directing “Reds”), Beatty’s career has been marked by parsiminous part picking, with the razor-sharp, energetic 73-year-old multi-hyphenate — known for his reticence in committing to projects, labyrinthine attention to detail and controlling nature — having made only six films since “Reds” was released in 1981. His last starring role was in 2001’s “Town and Country.”

What no ceremony can capture is his mystique. Beatty was a principal in Hollywood’s last golden age — the ’60s and ’70s. His best movies are ambitious, artful, intelligent and trenchant. He’s still a player, someone whose latest project is always newsworthy.

Just don’t try and get him to talk about it, or anything else that pertains to him. He’s a wonderful raconteur. He’s known everyone worth knowing in entertainment and politics. But his favorite line about himself is, as he told Variety, “interviewing Warren Beatty is like asking a hemophiliac for a pint of blood.”

Britannia Awards 2011
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