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Warren Beatty on 25 Years of Marriage to Annette Bening: ‘I Wasn’t Trying to Avoid Marriage, I Was Trying to Avoid Divorce’

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Warren Beatty was once one of Hollywood’s most legendary bachelors, but the actor says settling down with actress Annette Bening in his 50s was the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

“The most important thing that’s ever happened — the best thing that’s ever happened to me — was Annette and having four kids,” the 79-year-old said during a Wednesday appearance on the Today show.

Beatty married Bening, 58, in 1992, a surprise to fans who had been following the actor’s storied dating life. But Beatty said that the move wasn’t a shock to him.

“It didn’t really surprise me,” he said. “I always felt I wasn’t trying to avoid marriage, I was trying to avoid divorce. I had no doubt when I met Annette that it was time to get married.”

The couple share four children: Stephen, 24, Benjamin, 22, Isabel, 19, and Ella, 16.

Roger Wong/INFphoto
Roger Wong/INFphoto

With nearly 25 years of marriage under his belt, Beatty said the secret to his successful marriage is “respect.”

The actor took a break from Hollywood as he married and welcomed children.

Everett
Everett
Chris Polk/FilmMagic
Chris Polk/FilmMagic

But he’s ending his 15-year break from the big screen with his latest project Rules Don’t Apply — a love story set in 1958 Hollywood in which Beatty plays billionaire Howard Hughes.

And Beatty came out swinging with his return to the big screen, writing, producing and directing the movie.

Ron Galella/WireImage
Ron Galella/WireImage

Although he’s ready to get back into the Hollywood swing — “I had to face facts and get around and do it” — Beatty said the time off was good for the sake of his children’s privacy.

“It is a burden, I think, to have two parents that are well-known, so I completely respect their privacy,” he said. “I could go on and on and on and on talking about them, because they’re brilliant and fun. But no, I think you have to give them a break, and they have their privacy.”

Rules Don’t Apply opens in theaters Nov. 23.