Annette Bening (actress in 20th Century Women, The American President, Mars Attacks, and much more) joined Dodge College on zoom for a Q&A.

One thing you may not know about Annette Bening is that she used to be a chef on a boat. 

“I was a babysitter when I was a kid, started at around 13, and I got to know all these very interesting and cool women because I was babysitting their kids. One of these women was named Kathy, and Kathy and I became great great great friends, and we are still great friends. She’s an adventurous soul. I was 16 at this point and she was in her 30s, and she heard an ad on the radio for divers unlimited in San Diego, where you could get certified as a scuba diver. For some reason, we thought this was a good idea. It was a full certification course. So, one of the things you have to do is a beach dive, and then you have to do a boat dive. I met the cook [on the boat] and the galley and the skipper. I remember then, soon after, I was driving my mom’s station wagon with green vinyl interior down to the dock, being really nervous and really scared, and then asked for a  job on the boat.”

“I was the assistant cook first, which was ten bucks a trip. Very quickly, I [became] the cook. It was very simple: scrambled eggs, toast, sandwiches, and in the evening was steaks, hibachi, salad. It was a great adventure, and quite frankly, it was being on the ocean that was such an incredible experience – it’s very similar to working on a play or a movie. You have a contained space and you all are in it and you are trapped. You have to play well with others, or it doesn’t work well. And consequently, the people that worked on [my] boat were just wonderful people and I loved them.  

Moderator Professor Joe Rosenberg’s final question of the night: “You’ve conquered the world of acting. Is there other stuff that you want to do? Is there any stone that you haven’t turned? I know in my own life, I feel like the best has yet to come. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know I love what I’m doing. I feel grateful that I have this gift to work with young people. Do you think about doing some other stuff, and if so, what that is?”

“The only other thing I’ve ever done that has given me as much satisfaction and joy as acting is teaching. I might try to teach more. I do try to do [masterclasses] pretty regularly. I’m also producing now. I hope that all of you think about doing your own material, and are finding things that you want to work on. I hope you are all developing material that means a lot to you. I wasn’t trained that way. Now that my kids are grown, I am in a different part of life. I have the time to pursue that kind of work.”