He's telling people what to do -- 'you go over there, you go over there' -- and he's directing the scene, and he just gets up, walks over... 'Okay, roll it.'
Questioned about her glittering 28-year career before a packed audience at the American Film Institute's AFI Fest, the 56-year-old preferred to talk up Beatty's acting and directing prowess.
"When he acts in his movies, it's very interesting. The simplicity of it is beautiful," Bening told the crowd at the TCL Chinese Theatre.
"He's telling people what to do -- 'you go over there, you go over there' -- and he's directing the scene, and he just gets up, walks over... 'Okay, roll it.'
"That's pretty cool. That's just one cool thing about my husband."
Bening grew up in San Diego, California, and worked as a cook to finance drama studies at San Francisco State University.
She broke onto the silver screen with "The Great Outdoors," in 1988 and the next year played the wicked Marquise de Merteuil in Milos Forman's "Valmont."
She was applauded by critics and won her first Oscar nomination playing a con artist in the neo-noir crime drama "The Grifters," opposite John Cusack and Anjelica Huston.
The buzz propelled her to a starring role opposite Beatty in 1992's "Bugsy," and a Golden Globe nomination.
Bening and Beatty, who celebrate their silver wedding anniversary next year, have four children -- Kathlyn, Benjamin, Isabel and Ella Corinne.
The glamorous duo starred opposite one another again in "Love Affair" (1994), a remake of the classic "An Affair to Remember" (1957).
Bening struck gold again at age 43 as the unfaithful wife of a suburban dad hitting a midlife crisis in "American Beauty" (1999).
The role brought her second Oscar nomination but, after winning a third nod for 2005's "Adorable Julia," she kept a relatively low profile.
She burst back onto the scene in 2010 with "The Kids Are All Right," in which she played Nic to Julianne Moore's Jules, a lesbian couple bringing up two children conceived by artificial insemination.
Bening earned her fourth Oscar nomination, but ended up with the best actress Golden Globe.
She was directed by Beatty once more in "Rules Don't Apply," which was screened last week at the opening of the AFI Fest.
Beatty, a 14-time Oscar nominee for acting, producing, directing and writing, stars as US entrepreneur Howard Hughes in the comedy biopic, which is due to be released next week.
"I was so thrilled to watch him on the set," she told moderator Lisa Cholodenko, her director on "The Kids Are All Right."
"I did get to act in the movie and that made me very happy, and he was very enthusiastic and encouraging of what I was doing."
Asked about her career highlight, she pointed to "Bugsy," where she met 79-year-old Beatty.
Bening's latest starring part is in family comedy drama "20th Century Women," by indie director Mike Mills, which was shown as part of the tribute.
"I feel like Annette is an incredibly smart person. She is also really emotionally intelligent. She has the talent and insight to honor how complicated people are," Mills told AFP ahead of the screening.
Bening was asked by reporters about speculation in the trade press that both she and her husband might win Oscars at next year's ceremony.
But she batted away the question, replying: "All I can say is this is a great night tonight. I'm just living in the moment."