Annette Bening Trained With An Olympian For 1 Year To Play Marathon Swimmer Diana Nyad

annette bening
How Annette Bening Trained For 'Nyad'John Nacion - Getty Images

At the 96th Academy Awards, Annette Bening is nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role as open-water distance swimmer Diana Nyad. Now, she’s opening up about how she trained to play the champion marathon swimmer who made history when she swam from Cuba to the Florida Keys at the age of 64.

The 65-year-old told ET that she worked with an Olympian for a year to get in shape for her role.

The physicality of that training took an emotional Annette—the actor shared that she cried in the pool alone because it was all so overwhelming. But Annette said she didn’t cry in front of her co-star Jodie Foster because she was “intimidated” by the actor. “I cried in the pool, by myself,” she told the publication. “I just thought, ‘Oh, I'll just jump in, I'll just start swimming and I can figure this out,’ and then I realized, ‘Oh man, this is like a thing.’”

Jodie also told the Los Angeles Times that Annette was a total trouper during filming. “She’d get in the water and then just not get out,” Jodie said. “After three, four, five hours, it gets cold and her way of warming up was doing more laps, which is crazy. I was continually flagging down [assistant directors] and going, “What’s wrong with you? Enough already. Get her out of there.”

But when Annette finally arrived to the Dominican Republic for filming, she was able to swim “lap after lap,” she shared, spending five to six hours a day in the pool at some points.

“It's such a demanding thing to do but it's also very deeply—it relaxes the central nervous system," Annette said. “That's why people who are on the water tend to be kind of mellow. Except Diana Nyad, she's not mellow. She's the one person who's never mellow.”

By the way: There were two stunt doubles on set, but they were never used. “You’d be able to tell that the stroke wasn’t mine,” Annette told the Los Angeles Times. “I felt like if I could do it, I wanted to do it. So I’d make sure. I’d say, ‘You aren’t going to put anyone else in the water, right?’”

Even Diana gave her props to The Hollywood Reporter. “She swam some days [for] eight hours a day,” Diana said. “We professional swimmers watched her in the footage and said, ‘You can’t tell that that isn’t a professional swimmer.’ You did it, girlfriend.”

On an even cooler note, Annette said she’s now taken up a daily swimming habit, and it’s helped relieve her stress. Now, the actor says she feels like she has to swim every day, joking “or else, you know, I start to chew my clothing.”

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