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Friday, November 17, 1995 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Annette Goes To Washington -- Bening's Politics Show In `American Prez'

Knight-Ridder / Tribune News Service

Actress Annette Bening has taken a few years off to play Mrs. Mom, in spite of a whiplash career, an Academy Award nomination and a hubby who keeps the news wires humming.

Becoming a mother changed her, she says.

"It's a very healthy thing I think for people in the business to get out of it a little bit and get a larger perspective on life. There's a dimension and experience as a woman that you can only have if you have children."

Bening started out to be just another in a long line of gorgeous women who attracted actor Warren Beatty. But the tall beauty with the big brain married the confirmed bachelor and presented him with two children - a boy, 14 months, and a girl, 3 1/2.

She says she feels lucky to have the children and to be able to choose when she wants to work. "But I'm constantly wrestling, as is any working mother, about how much I want to do and how much I want to be home."

"The American President," co-starring Michael Douglas, marks her first appearance on the big screen since her pairing with Beatty in the Warner Bros. bomb "Love Affair."

In "The American President," which opens today, she plays a Washington lobbyist who attracts the president's attention. A widower, he hasn't the faintest idea how to go about dating someone. And the script is most amusing when it's dealing with his social dilemmas. What's less amusing is its political bent.

"I'm a liberal," Bening says. "I'm a Democrat and I agree with the politics in the movie. I don't always take the opportunity that celebrity affords me to espouse my political views.

"I'm also ambivalent. People have very good causes and they want you to show up to draw attention to whatever the cause is. I still feel a little uncomfortable with that and am still ambivalent about how much I want to appear in that context."

She thinks the movie might inspire people to get more involved in political issues.

"We're living in such a cynical time. And there's such a disconnection between politics and people. People don't get involved in politics because they don't think it's going to change anything. There is so much apathy and so few people register to vote and of those who do register only 30 percent vote. It's really bad. It's sad. So to have a movie that's impassioned about politics is very healthy."

Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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