How Annette Bening Tamed Hollywood Bachelor Warren Beatty: 'Every Day She Surprises Me'

It only took one woman to make Beatty leave his old ways behind

Warren Beatty - News
Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Warren Beatty was once famous for being one of Hollywood’s most legendary bachelors — that was until he met an Oscar nominee who changed his ways.

The actor’s list of ex-girlfriends reads like a who’s who from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Among the stars he romanced: Madonna, Diane Keaton, and Julie Christie. That all changed when Beatty cast Annette Bening in his 1991 film Bugsy.

When they met for lunch in preparation for Bugsy, Beatty knew his life was going to change forever.

“I remember losing interest in the garlic chicken I was eating within 20 seconds,” he previously told PEOPLE. “And the garlic chicken had been very good.”

At that meeting, the screen legend promised Bening that he wouldn’t hit on her while filming. However, that rule went out the door toward the end of shooting when he asked her out to dinner. Although there was “a moment of hesitation on her part,” the duo went out to eat — and the rest is history.

Warren Beatty - News

Beatty, 80, married Bening, 59, in 1992. And while the move came as a shock to many, the actor said he never second-guessed himself.

“It didn’t really surprise me,” he said during a 2016 appearance on the Today show. “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 Ira, 25, Benjamin, 23, Isabel, 20, and Ella, 17.

“That’s the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me – and their mother,” Beatty told PEOPLE of his family. “That’s bigger than fame, and it came not a moment too soon.”

The actor even took a break from Hollywood as he got used to married life and welcomed children. The actor said he took the hiatus so his kids could grow up with a normal life.

“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.”

Warren Beatty - News
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And while he returned to acting and directing in 2016 with the film Rules Don’t Apply, Beatty’s family still remains his number one priority. Last year, Beatty told Vanity Fair that oldest child Stephen, a transgender activist, and writer, is “a revolutionary, a genius and my hero, as are all my children.”

He says: “They’ve always known I felt that way.”

The couple, who have so far starred in four films together, have been married 25 years. So what’s the secret to their lasting romance?

“Every day she surprises me,” Beatty told PEOPLE at the 2016 premiere of Rules Don’t Apply.

“Definitely he surprises me — absolutely,” Bening was quick to agree. “He does the unexpected thing.”

“That sounds kind of good!” chuckled Beatty.

Looking back, Beatty said he’s never once regretted leaving his bachelor lifestyle behind.

“I became a devoted husband and father 25 years ago, and I have to say they have been the most enthralling years of my life, with our four fantastic kids,” Beatty said in 2016.

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