Bening in ‘Beauty’

Actress close to joining Spacey in DW pic

NEW YORK — Annette Bening is in serious talks to join Kevin Spacey in “American Beauty,” the DreamWorks black comedy to be directed by Sam Mendes from a script by Alan Ball.

In a role that harkens back to her starmaking work as a conwoman in “The Grifters,” Bening plays the wife of Spacey’s character, who weathers a cold marriage since becoming a cold-blooded real-estate saleswoman. While he stagnates in his career and life, she has outgrown her husband. Though he undertakes a self-improvement program designed to make him more attractive to his daughter’s friend, she can’t stand him and seeks solace in the arms of a real-estate salesman. As his character quits his magazine job, pumps iron, buys the souped-up car he always wanted and gets a job in a fast-food joint, the couple clashes memorably, giving both Bening and Spacey some juicy conflict opportunities.

Bening had been courted for several films, including the Universal Kevin Costner-starrer “For the Love of the Game.” But sources said she should have a deal soon for the film, which begins shooting Dec. 14 in Los Angeles, produced by Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen of the Jinks/Cohen Co. Bening is repped by CAA.

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