Those symmetrical features—the cat’s eyes, the upturned nose, the heart-shaped mouth—are stunningly adaptable. In The Grifters they spelled deception. In Bugsy they spelled seduction—and their lure was not lost on costar Warren Beatty. “I knew she would change my life,” he has said of their first meeting. She did, and glowed with the blush of motherhood and marriage at the Oscars last March.
Is Bening, 33, a throwback to Hollywood’s sexy but tough sirens of the ’40s? Perhaps. “She has the strength of Barbara Stanwyck and the beauty of Susan Hayward,” says Bugsy costume designer Albert Wolsky. Adds Richard Hornung, who dressed her for The Grifters: “There’s nothing you can’t show because she’s sort of fabulous everywhere.”