"It wouldn't be very interesting to play someone that you didn't feel a connection to," Bening recently told reporters in New York.
"I don't consider her to be really like me," she added. "I mean, I love this woman. I think she is just an absolute wicked, wonderful diva, who also has a serious heart and is a real innocent. ... As a creative person, really, all you have is yourself; the self you're sort of brought in with, your frame of reference, your experience, your reading and your imagination and that's really it, but you don't have to have exactly experienced everything the person's going through, I hope, in order to have some feeling for it."
In the film, Bening plays a married actress having an affair with a younger man. In real life, the 46-year-old "American Beauty" star takes only occasional film roles, preferring to spend time with her husband and family.
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