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‘Nyad’ first photos: Annette Bening and Jodie Foster star in inspirational true story from ‘Free Solo’ Oscar winners

Four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening and two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster are ready to find a way in the first photos from the upcoming Netflix drama “Nyad.”

Based on the Diana Nyad memoir “Find a Way” and directed by Oscar-winning “Free Solo” filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin in their narrative feature debut, “Nyad” stars Bening as the title character, the world-class athlete and journalist who attempted to swim from Cuba to Florida at the age of 60. Julia Cox adapted the Nyad memoir for the screen.

Here’s the official plot synopsis, provided by Netflix.

A remarkable true story of tenacity, friendship, and the triumph of the human spirit, NYAD recounts a riveting chapter in the life of world-class athlete Diana Nyad. Three decades after giving up marathon swimming in exchange for a prominent career as a sports journalist, at the age of 60, Diana (four-time Academy Award nominee Annette Bening) becomes obsessed with completing an epic swim that always eluded her: the 110-mile trek from Cuba to Florida, often referred to as the “Mount Everest” of swims. Determined to become the first person to finish the swim without a shark cage, Diana goes on a thrilling, four-year journey with her best friend and coach Bonnie Stoll (two-time Academy Award winner Jodie Foster) and a dedicated sailing team.

In addition to Bening and Foster, the film’s cast includes Rhys Ifans, Ethan Jones Romero, Luke Cosgrove, Jeena Yi, and Eric T. Miller.

But the veteran actresses, particularly Bening, who are the focal point here. “She wouldn’t take the role unless she was prepared to do the work,” Vasarhelyi said of Bening in an interview with Vanity Fair. “That was daunting to her. She knew herself that she would have to learn to swim that way—and she wasn’t necessarily the best swimmer.”

“Annette faced all the hardest challenges. Swimming in the water for hours and hours, stomaching salt water, fluctuating body temperatures, wearing that weird silicone mask, long hours in every weather condition, day and night—and all of it in a bathing suit,” Foster told the legacy publication. “That’s my worst nightmare.” 

Bening, a four-time Oscar nominee who arguably came closest to winning Best Actress at the 2000 ceremony for “American Beauty” (she lost to Hilary Swank for “Boys Don’t Cry”), hired former Olympic swimmer Rada Owen as her coach and, as the kids say, put in the work to play Nyad. In her interview with Vanity Fair, Foster recalled how Bening stayed in the water for hours during production to make sure her performance was just right.

“I found myself bugging the ADs to get her out of the water for breaks. She just kept lifting her thumbs saying she was fine. I was so worried her body would betray her iron mind, but it never happened,” Foster said. “That woman has the strongest will I’ve ever seen on a movie set.”

Bening was last nominated at the Oscars in 2011 for “The Kids Are All Right.”

“Nyad” is set to debut in some theaters on October 20 before its Netflix bow on November 3. The film is set to have its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, a premiere designation that likely means the film’s first screening will take place at the Telluride Film Festival. (Telluride, famously, doesn’t release its lineup until the day before the festival is set to begin. But due to the release of other festivals’ lineups and those premiere designations, it becomes possible to make some informed guesses about what will play at Telluride.)

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