Born August 14th, 1966, in Cleveland, Ohio, Halle Maria Berry was raised by her mother Judith, a psychiatric ward nurse, with her older sister Heidi. Judith's husband (Halle's father) walked out on the family when Halle was only 4 years old. Although living in a single parent household was somewhat tough, Halle's mom managed to move the family out of the inner-city neighborhood and into the suburbs of Cleveland. Because the neighborhood was predominantly white, Halle and her sister were treated cruelly because of their dark skin. Determined not to let the color of her skin get the better of her, Halle made it a point to make friends, while her dream of becoming an actress had already begun to surface. By the time Halle reached high school, she was a cheerleader, an honor society member, editor of the school paper, and class president. Not surprisingly, she was crowned her high school's prom queen. In 1983, when she was only 17 years old, Halle's boyfriend at the time entered her name in the Miss Teen Ohio beauty pageant. Once again, it's no surprise that Halle got to wear the crown in that competition. But it didn't stop there: Halle won many other high-profile competitions, including Miss Teen All American, Miss USA and Miss World. Once she was done raking in points by winning pageant after pageant, Halle continued her education at Cleveland's Cuyahoga Community College in 1986, studying broadcast journalism.
Unfortunately, Halle didn't complete her degree -- she left the program to pursue a more glamorous career in modeling, and started studying acting in Chicago. Although Halle auditioned for soap opera and drama guru Aaron Spelling for a part in Charlie's Angels and didn't get the part, Spelling encouraged Halle to pursue her dreams of being an actress.
Halle moved to Manhattan, where she immediately landed her first TV gig in Living Dolls. Although the show was short-lived, Halle was more determined than ever to become a great actress. Halle got her first big break in 1991, when Spike Lee cast her as a crack-addicted woman in Jungle Fever, starring opposite Samuel L. Jackson. She was so determined to execute the role perfectly that Halle actually interviewed real addicts and stopped bathing 10 days before filming the racially-charged film. Soon after, Halle reverted back to television and had a recurring role on the popular primetime soap opera, Knots Landing, in 1991.
But the big screen was where Halle wanted to be and she soon landed another part, this time playing Damon Wayans' exotic girlfriend in the film The Last Boy Scout (1991), which also starred Bruce Willis. As with her Jungle Fever role, Halle delved into this role wholeheartedly, so much so that she convinced a Hollywood strip club owner to let her dance on stage. In 1992, Halle landed a starring role opposite none other than the man of comedy himself, Eddie Murphy, in Boomerang. In 1993, she married Atlanta Braves right fielder David Justice. Unfortunately, the marriage was short-lived and they divorced in 1996. Halle made an equally unwise decision in 2001, when she married soul singer Eric Benet only to file for divorce in 2003. Berry decided to take a lighter acting job and starred in the 1994 movie The Flintstones, but her riveting big-screen role as an illiterate addict who abandons her child in a garbage can in 1995's Losing Isaiah shot her star up high.
Unfortunately for Halle, she missed the role of a lifetime when she passed up the lead role in the film Speed, which ultimately worked wonders for Sandra Bullock's career. Other movies that Halle starred in include Executive Decision (1996), Race the Sun (1996), B*A*P*S (1997), Bulworth (1998), and Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, for which she won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV movie. In 2000, Halle starred in the live film adaptation of the cartoon strip X-Men, as Storm/Ororo Munroe -- along with fellow mutants Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Famke Janssen.
Berry has also returned to modeling, as a spokeperson for Revlon. And because Halle was diagnosed with diabetes not too long ago, she is an avid volunteer of the Juvenile Diabetes Association.Unfortunately, Berry made headlines when she was charged with a hit and run in 2000, and pleaded no contest -- the judge ordered her to perform 200 hours of community service. She also made news when she was allegedly paid a $500,000 bonus to reveal her breasts in a scene in 2001's hacker film, Swordfish. Audiences can see more of Halle in the film Monster's Ball, in her critically-acclaimed portrayal of a death row convict's wife. Halle received the 2002 SAG award for Best Actress in Monster's Ball and made history at the Oscars as the first black actress to receive a Best Actress Academy Award. Her Oscar triumph has cemented her as an A-list actress.
But this doesn't mean there's no room for action blockbusters; Halle appeared as Jinx in the James Bond film, Die Another Day (2002), and the second installment of what looks like an X-Men franchise (2003). Between roles in Gothika (2003), The Set-Up (2004), The Guide (2004), Nappily Ever After (2004), and the title role in Catwoman (2004), Berry is proving to be one of the busiest women in Hollywood.
Although Halle's talent and beauty usually make headlines, she made the news again when her alleged abusive ex-lover was finally revealed as Wesley Snipes. Halle has accomplished much fame and fortune in her professional career, but it's evident that she's going to be around for quite a long time.
Halle Berry is looking for sperm donors!
Oscar winner Halle Berry has reportedly given up her search for true love and is now all set to resort to artificial insemination, in a bid to have her own child.The star is single again after her brief three-month relationship with actor MICHAEL EALY ended earlier this year (05).
Although she already has an adopted daughter, ex-husband Eric Benet's s daughter India, Berry is now desperate for a child of her own, and is now looking for sperm donors.
"It looks like the only option I have left is to head for the sperm bank," the actress was quoted by Femalefist as saying.
"I've been so desperately unlucky in love and that has thwarted my desire for motherhood. It's so frustrating. The only other option would be adoption. I really yearn for a child and I can't wait much longer," she added.
Halle Berry: What's Inside Counts
Halle Berry says her life tends to imitate the art represented in her latest venture, the computer-generated animated film "Robots."
The gorgeous actress tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith the movie's message is that, "No matter what you look like on the outside, it's really about what's going on inside. Some of the robots are really beautiful, well put-together, like my character. She's made up of all brand-new parts. And (another character) is put together with spare parts, used parts, old parts. So the big message is that we really are what we are on the inside, and not really on the outside."
Berry says she's aware of similar dynamics in how fans look at her: "I think they think they know how I should be and how I should feel, based on the way I look on the outside, and nothing could be more dead wrong. What's on the outside is so very different than what's on the inside for me. So they think they know (me), but they really don't know."
How is she on the inside now? "I'm very calm, very patient. I've learned a lot as I've gotten older."
Smith noted Berry hasn't been mentioned in the tabloids as frequently as she used to be, to which she let out with a loud, "Whoo hoo!"
"Life is changing," she continued. "With age comes a certain, you know, security. You get comfortable in your body and you no longer sort of seek that validation that you used to or that approval from people that really don't matter. And I've gotten really comfortable with saying, 'No, I'm not going to talk about that,' or. 'This who is I am and I love to talk about it, because I have no secrets. I'm really not interested in trying to keep secrets today.'"
The Oscar-winner got reflective: "I think now, after having some awards, the validation has come. So now, it's about doing projects that I believe in, that offer a challenge, where I can have fun. Sometimes, I just want to have fun and challenge myself in a new way. Sometimes it's to do something really dramatic that has social significance. Sometimes it's to work with a great cast of other people and be in an ensemble piece. So I think now, the sky's the limit. I just want to continue to grow and work. You know? Do what I love to do. And I think so many actors don't get to work. You know? Most actors are unemployed, so the fact that I get to work feels like a blessing."
Berry says "Robots" is her "first stab" at an animated film, and the process is interesting, to say the least: "You're in a sound booth alone. None of the other actors are there. The cast is there. You sometimes hear their voice, sometimes you don't. I worked a lot with our director, and he played all the parts, and I played off with him. And you just do it over and over. I think I did the voice, my complete voice, ten times."
She told Smith you don't try to match your voice to the pictures – it's the other way around: "They animate to your voice, and that way you have a lot of freedom. You can create whatever you want and then they match the voice to that, but the trick is, they do it over and over and over and over. So you go through, you do the whole script once and then they think, well, we want to change her a little bit, and they change all the lines, and you go back and do the whole thing again. And they keep tweaking it for -- almost two years, I worked on this."
Directed by Chris Wedge, "Robots" also features the voices of Mel Brooks, Drew Carey, Jim Broadbent, Amanda Bynes, and Robin Williams, among many others.
Halle Berry's career purrs along nicely
With Catwoman finally dead and buried under 6 feet of kitty litter, Halle Berry is ready to get serious again in Oprah Winfrey Presents: Their Eyes Were Watching God
The TV movie, based on the popular Zora Neale Hurston novel and airing Sunday (9 p.m. ET/PT) on ABC, could land Berry back on an award show stage, and we don't mean the Razzies.
Berry's resurrection began last Saturday, when the 38-year-old Oscar winner helped euthanize her Cat-astophe for good by attending those dubious awards, where Catwoman earned Berry the trophy for worst actress of the year. Meowww!
At Wednesday's Watching God premiere, executive producer Oprah Winfrey admitted she caught Berry in Catwoman and felt "it wasn't her best choice." But she applauded the actress's bold move to face her critics at the Razzies.
"That was the best decision ever," said Winfrey, who came dressed in a pale pink Gianfranco Ferre pantsuit. "Now nobody can say another darn thing. I'd like to say I told her to do it."
Also pretty in pink was Berry, in a dress designed by John Galliano. She said she chose the gown because it reminded her of what her 1920s Watching God character — the spiritual and sensual Janie Crawford — might wear were she alive today. "It's very flowy, and there's something feminine about it," she said.
In the movie, Michael Ealy plays the last of Berry's three husbands, who proves to be her true love. Although the two walked the carpet separately, they are reportedly involved in real life. Ealy says they were able to keep their private lives private during the Florida shoot, which is the way they like it. "Halle and I had really tight security, so we didn't have any problems," he said. "She taught me how to be a star and still be gracious."
Berry's decision to attend the Razzies was a no-brainer. "The day I heard I won," she recalled, "I thought, 'Oh, great! I'm going to get a nice dress and pick it up myself!' " While friends and confidants advised her against it, Berry "never had a second thought about going and making fun of those who made fun of me. It was wonderful. Life is eternal new beginnings."
She hasn't yet received her Razzie because she gave it back to her presenters, requesting they have it engraved. Once she gets it back, the small golden berry probably will land on Berry's kitchen table.
Berry and Winfrey were at the Academy Awards watching Jamie Foxx win his best-actor Oscar for playing Ray Charles. With biopics hotter than ever, Winfrey knows it's only a matter of time before someone attempts to tackle her rags-to-riches tale. But she won't be the one producing that film. "It would be too self-serving," she said.
Berry, however, would very much like to produce The Oprah Winfrey Story, with another actress cast as the big O. "I don't think I could play Oprah, because I'm a bit too close to her," she said. "And I think Oprah needs to be a lot older before anyone can play her."
Instead of her own life story, Winfrey, 51, announced plans to develop a film based on the life of Lena Horne, the 87-year-old Stormy Weather chanteuse who weathered racism and tragedy. (Another version was scrapped last year after Horne objected to the casting of Janet Jackson, who was then fresh off her Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction.")
"I'm working on it myself," said Winfrey, who has been spending a lot of time working in L.A. and has opted to stay in the home of close pal Quincy Jones. "That is a life that deserves to be depicted on screen, a life the rest of America deserves to know about."
Though Winfrey has been talking with her agent, Kevin Huvane, about getting back into acting, don't expect Winfrey to cast herself as Horne. "Absolutely not," said Winfrey, who's envisioning Alicia Keys in the role.
"I know what I can do and what I can't. The role calls for a light-skinned, long-haired, really pretty girl — and I know that's what I ain't."
Halle Berry's new movie gives Oprah ideas
Whatever else it's supposed to be about, the thing everybody who watches "Oprah Winfrey Presents: Their Eyes Were Watching God" on ABC Sunday night will be discussing Monday is The Kiss.
Halle Berry. Michael Ealy. He licks her lips. They lick each other's tongues. And that's before she pulls the light down from the ceiling in the heat of passion and, well, things get really serious.
"I'm going to show that tape to Stedman because I have an open checkbook and some beachfront property if I ever get kissed like that," Winfrey said in a recent chat with reporters about the adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's novel, which was reassessed by critics almost 30 years ago, 30 years after being trashed upon its 1937 release.
"Is that not the kiss of a lifetime? Darnell [Martin, the film's director] had said she was going to reinvent kissing. They wanted to reinvent kissing. That's the best on-screen kiss I have ever seen, and I was very afraid that ABC wasn't going to let that kiss stay in. And I said to Kate [Forte, the president of Harpo Films]: 'We're going to fight for The Kiss.'
"And they never did anything but support The Kiss, so I'd like to thank ABC for supporting The Kiss ... and the eating of the lychee nut."
Love those lychee nuts
Oh, yeah. There's another scene where Berry is dancing sensually, removes a harmonica from Ealy's mouth using her mouth, thus freeing him to slurp up a lychee nut from her hand and keep slurping long after the fruit's been eaten.
"I never ate a lychee nut, but I said, 'Let me go get me some lychee nuts,' " Winfrey said.
"And eat it out of somebody's hand," Forte said.
There's a lot of fruit and sex and water -- lots of water -- and other not-so-subtle imagery with Berry's flowing hair and her sexuality in "Their Eyes," a *** flick set for 8 p.m. Sunday on WLS-Channel 7.
Among the particulars stripped from Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks' screenplay, which nonetheless clocks in at 2-1/2 hours with ads, are Hurston's reflections on the prejudices among African-Americans regarding the darkness of one's skin.
What's remains is a steamy, sweaty, diverting enough tale of a woman coming into her own and asserting herself despite societal expectations and restraints in rural, early 20th century Florida.
Over the 20-plus years we follow desperate housewife Janie (Berry), she goes through three different marriages and assorted heartaches, frustrations, epiphanies and pleasures not limited to fishing and midweek picnics.
She flees her first husband, an old man whose sole asset is the land he makes her work, for a charismatic but chauvinistic community leader (Ruben Santiago-Hudson) who sweeps her off her feet, then puts her under his thumb just as she's blossoming.
The third spouse (Ealy), a dozen years her junior, encourages her to do whatever she pleases and whatever she can, though some suspect he covets what she has and not simply her -- a dubious claim since Janie looks like Berry.
What this take on "Their Eyes" may lack in social commentary, it makes up for in nibbles on the ear, kisses on the small of the back and nuzzling on the neck. A lemon is rubbed on a chin. A freshly plucked flower tickles a foot.
Black people in love
"It's really important for us to see black people, African Americans, in a life that allows not only the history and legacy of the culture, but to show love," said Winfrey, who considers Hurston's novel her favorite love story and gave Berry a copy of the book a dozen years ago, though Berry says she already was a fan. "That's often not seen in a way that people can relate to, so this has been a story that I have ... wanted to see come to life for so many years."
Winfrey called Berry the day after she won her Oscar for 2001's "Monsters Ball" to ask her to play Janie, and she accepted right away. Ruby Dee, Lorraine Toussaint and Terrence Howard were among those who followed suit.
"It's a fully realized character who sort of starts in one place and has this amazing journey and ends up discovering what life is really about and what love is all about," Berry said.
"To be a part of bringing Zora Neale's work to life is something that will be part of my legacy. It's not just making movies to be entertaining. It's actually doing something deeper, and ... I'd do it on a street corner in New York City if that meant it was going to do the kind of good that this movie has an opportunity to do."
OK, but what people will talk about on Monday is The Kiss.
And maybe the lychee nut, too.
Halle Berry seeks relief from stalker
Oscar winner Halle Berry has asked a California judge for a restraining order against a man who has allegedly been hounding the actress.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Linda Lefkowitz granted the request and ordered Robert A. Sawyer to stay at least 100 yards away from Berry, her residence, her office and vehicle for the next three years, E! Online reported Tuesday.
Court documents alleged Sawyer sent the actress a series of disturbing letters describing "delusions he has about a purported romantic relationship (with her)."
Last May, Berry got a restraining order against Louisiana native Greg Broussard after the 35-year-old claimed to be her fiance, made threatening phone calls and sent her gifts, including an engagement ring.
Razzie Berry gives a fruity performance
Halle Berry staged an Oscar-worthy parody of her Academy Awards meltdown at last night's 25th annual Razzie awards in Los Angeles. Breaking with tradition, the Catwoman star showed up in person to collect her award as the worst actress of 2004.
Explaining her decision to attend the event, Berry said: "My mother told me that if you couldn't be a good loser then there's no way you could be a good winner."
Berry famously broke down at the podium upon winning the 2002 best actress Oscar for her role in Monster's Ball. She mimicked that moment again last night, faking sobs on stage for a full minute while clutching her Academy Award in one hand and her Razzie (actually a spray-painted golf ball) in the other.
But her speech, when it finally came, went out of its way to spread the blame for Catwoman's failure. "I want to thank Warner Brothers for casting me in this piece of sh*t," she announced to tumultuous laughter. She added: "I'd like to thank the rest of the cast. To give a really bad performance like mine you need to have really bad actors."
Catwoman scooped four Razzies in all, including worst director (for the one-named Pitof). But its performance was matched by that of Fahrenheit 9/11, which racked up a quartet of acting dishonours. George Bush was named worst actor, while the supporting actor awards were split between defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Britney Spears, who appeared briefly in the film to offer support to the president. The Razzie for worst screen couple went to Bush and the titular hero of My Pet Goat, the book he continued reading after learning of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre.
None of the winners - Bush, Rumsfeld, Spears or the goat - were on hand to accept their awards.
Unsurprisingly, the annual Razzie awards have struggled to find big names to grace the event. Prior to Berry, only comedian Tom Green - a 2002 winner for Freddie Got Fingered - has been prepared to show up in person.
Even Berry would be forgiven for hoping that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. "I hope to God I never see these people again," she said on leaving the theatre.
Eric Benet apologizes to Halle Berry in his music
It's probably way too late now. But Eric Benet is making a very public apology to his ex-wife Halle Berry.
Benet says he's sorry in the songs on his new album. He told "Access Hollywood"that he hasn't personally told Berry about the musical apology.
But he said she knows where he stands.
He said he thinks "somewhere along the way, she's heard everything. Maybe she hasn't heard the songs, but she's heard everything" he has to say.
Halle Berry planning to attend ceremony for Hollywood's worst films
Halle Berry says she is planning to attend the Golden Raspberries ceremony for Hollywood's worst films.
The sexy star, whose flop movie 'Catwoman' has received more than half a dozen Razzies nominations, says she may go the event because criticism is as important as praise.
She told Britain's Night and Day magazine: "I would absolutely show up. I think if you go to the Oscars, you should go and get Razzies.
It's all the same, really. When someone says you're good, you have to take it with the same grain of salt as when someone says they didn't think you were so good."
The 38-year-old actress, whose divorce from second husband Eric Benet was finalised last month, also revealed that she is planning her Razzies outfit with the same care and precision as her Oscar night gown.
The Oscar-winning star admitted that she wants to celebrate her worst films because it's a sign that she is still taking diverse and challenging roles.
She added: "I would get an Oscar quality gown to go and pick up the awards. It's a good way to laugh at yourself.
"I'm proud that I am always taking risks, even if a risk gets you a Razzie. Some things work better than others."
Halle Berry enjoying a new romance with Michael Ealy
Halle Berry is enjoying a new romance with her latest male co-star.
The Oscar-winning beauty was seen canoodling with actor Michael Ealy, who plays her love interest in forthcoming film 'Their Eyes Were Watching God', at a party in Los Angeles.
An onlooker said: "They couldn't keep their hands off each other. They looked really great together and didn't mind who saw them."
Last year, Halle, who is seven years older than Michael, confessed she had been visiting sex shops following the break-up of her marriage.
The stunning actress had become a regular at Hollywood's The Pleasure Chest store - which stocks whips, vibrators and raunchy underwear - in a bid to keep herself satisfied after splitting from second husband Eric Benet.
She told America's Harper's Bazaar magazine: "You can't forget your sexuality - that's not good. You can still embrace your body by going to the gym or going to The Pleasure Chest."
Despite her blossoming romance with Michael and her desire for sexual pleasure, the 35-year-old recently vowed never to get married again.
After failed marriages to Eric and first husband David Justice, Halle claimed she wants to stay single for the rest of her life.
She told American chat show host Oprah Winfrey: "I'll never get married again, and I always hate to say never to anything, but I will never marry again."
Halle and Eric married in 2001 and their relationship was plagued with troubles.
Just a year into the marriage, Eric confessed he had slept with 10 other women and was a sex addict.
Halle filed for divorced in April 2004, following the couple's separation.
Halle Berry: Taking A Break During Filming
Two years after her historic Oscar win for Monster's Ball, Halle Berry has confirmed her position as one of the world's top female movie stars. Since her Academy Award win however, we've only caught glimpses of her in Die Another Day and X-Men 2, but with no less than six projects in various stages of development, it looks like her fans are in for a treat over the next couple of years. The first of these projects is Gothika, a psychological horror story which has performed exceedingly well in the States, and on a promotional tour of London Berry discusses her new film, how Robert Downey Jr broke her arm, her own experiences of the paranormal and the pressures she feels as a contemporary black icon.
In Gothika, Berry plays Miranda Grey, a prison psychologist who finds herself behind bars when she is accused of a number of senseless killings. Co-starring Downey Jr and Penelope Cruz, Berry admits that the terror of the film spilled over on to the set. "I felt creepy making it," she admits. "But creepy more than scared. We filmed in lots of dark dungeon-like places, and we never really felt that we were truly alone." The atmosphere reminded her of her breakthrough role in the TV film Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, when she was convinced the spirit of the Hollywood actress was around her. "I knew when we filmed that that her spirit was around. Nothing dramatic happened, but we all felt it."
Berry doesn't attribute occult influences on her broken arm that stopped the shooting of Gothika for eight weeks. "Robert Downey twisted my arm and it broke," she says with a laugh. "It was a freak accident but we're good friends." She also admits that the filming of Gothika was unconventional by Hollywood standards. "The script changed all the time. Mathieu (Kassovitz, the French director) and all of the actors contributed, but we had no rehearsals so we had to hit the ground running."
Berry is aware of her position as a black icon, but shrugs off the inevitable pressures. "I take it seriously and I know there are people of colour watching, but I don't get bogged down in it." And she admits to rewatching her infamous Oscar speech when she broke down at the ceremony. "I have watched it a couple of times since, it was such an out of body experience that I wanted to see what I looked like."
And with that it's time for her to jet back home to Los Angeles for a short rest between filming. "I just finished Catwoman last night," she says, and deflects any negative criticism from internet fans." Well, I love the look," she laughs, referring to the pre-publicity shots of her in a catsuit. "I think it's modern and edgy, but then again you can't please everybody!"
Halle Berry at the helm
Flexing her hard-earned Hollywood muscle, Halle Berry has been working on a powerful one-two television punch. The first half of this formidable combination hits home at 8 tonight on Home Box Office.
That would be the premiere of "Lackawanna Blues." Berry is the executive producer of this HBO adaptation of Ruben Santiago- Hudson's acclaimed, semiautobiographical off-Broadway play about a boardinghouse that becomes a young boy's home.
"I initially got involved in this project because of my love for Ruben Santiago-Hudson," Berry told TV critics in Los Angeles last month. "He was the first real actor I met when I first moved to New York, and someone I always admired and looked up to and has been a friend. . . . And when he decided that he wanted to write the screenplay for Lackawanna Blues' and make it into a screenplay, I wanted to help him in any way I could."
The second part of the TV one-two could be another dramatic knockout for the Cleveland native. Berry has the starring role in ABC's "Oprah Winfrey Presents: Their Eyes Were Watching God." This adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's 1937 novel will air at 9 p.m. Sunday, March 6, on WEWS Channel 5.
Berry plays Janie Crawford, a resilient and passionate woman coping with society's expectations of a black woman in pre-World War II America. Her co-stars for "Their Eyes Were Watching God" include actor-writer Santiago-Hudson.
"Lackawanna Blues" is something of an HBO homecoming for Berry, who was the star and executive producer of the 1999 HBO film "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge." Berry felt she was destined to play Dandridge, who also was born in Cleveland.
The first black woman nominated for a best-actress Academy Award, Dandridge died of a drug overdose at age 42 in 1965. Berry's portrayal of the actress-singer won her a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, an NAACP Image Award and, in September 2000, an Emmy.
"HBO is like family, ever since my Dorothy Dandridge project," Berry said. "They are interested in bringing quality to the screen. Especially as African-Americans, we know they are interested in bringing our stories to the screen. And they realize its value and they realize our need to do that. . . We knew they would do it with a lot of love and care, and it would allow us to bring a lot of dignity to this group of people."
Three years after playing Dandridge, Berry became the first black woman to win the best-actress Academy Award. That was for "Monster's Ball," the gritty drama co-starring Billy Bob Thornton.
Since taking home the Oscar in 2002, Berry has appeared in such high-profile commercial fare as the James Bond adventure "Die Another Day," "X2" (reprising her "X-Men" role of Storm), "Gothika" and "Catwoman."
Halle's kicking up a storm
is the beautiful superstar of the action movie X-Men and is now set to be a major Hollywood player thanks to her sultry good looks. But just a few months ago the actress was gripped by a depressive illness which left her on the brink of despair following tragedy in her personal life.
Firstly, the actress had been left feeling low following the collapse of her marriage to David Justice in 1996, and then she suffered a horrific car crash which left her with a head wound requiring 20 stitches. Worse still, Berry was later charged by the police with leaving the scene of an accident and was fined $9,000, put on probation for three years and given 200 hours of community service.She admits she was deeply affected by the crash and its aftermath - especially when tasteless jokes started to do the rounds and she pulled out of appearing at the Oscars ceremony held earlier this year.
Although she was devastated, she has since spoken out about her ordeal whichshe claims made her out to be the villain of the piece."I felt like I was misrepresented. An everyday accident was turned into a crime. It put me at the mercy of the police, the courts and anyone who wanted to say what had happened. I was also disappointed at how many people refused to believe me."
However the star is hoping her latest role in the Marvel comic-inspired X-Men will help her put the past behind her. In the 75 million dollar film, Berry plays one of a team of action heroes whoeach have a genetic mutation which they control for the benefit of mankind. In Berry's case, her African goddess character - the aptly named Storm, can control the weather.In order to get in shape for the film, the star did some serious gym work to squeeze into the body-hugging black leather outfit her character wears."I went on an exercise binge because if I'm going to play a comic superhero, I wanted to have super glutes," she laughs. Despite regular gym visits, Berry says she was fortunate that her character doesn't have to rely on her physical strength and is renowned instead for her ability to fire lightning bolts from her fingers or calm a fierce storm with a wave.
Although Berry admits her character is a cartoon-type role, she says by the end of filming she had begun to envy her character's magical powers."I'd like to be able to use Storm's powers for good, like have it rain more in Southern California. We could do with it," she says.
The film also stars two British actors, Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen. Stewart is Professor X, a mutant whose mental powers can span the material and spiritual world. McKellen plays his evil nemesis Magneto. Apart from Berry, the other female mutants are played by Oscar-winner Anna Paquin as Rogue, Famke Janssen as Jean Grey and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as the blue-skinned Mystique. Already the film has proved a major hit at the American box office and a sequel looks likely, and although Berry says she wouldn't object to reprising her role she would insist on a few changes."I'd like Storm to have a love life because she leads a boring existence," she says firmly."I also hope that next time we can explore the fact she's the nurturer of the group. To me she's the quintessential earth mother."
Although Berry is happy to take on big budget blockbusters like X-Men, her real home is on the set of low budget intimate dramas such as Bulworth or last year's Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, a film about a 1950s black film star for which she won a Golden Globe and Screen Actor's Guild award. "What Dorothy went through made it possible for me to be here," she admits." She pioneered the way for black female movie stars."I realise I may not break through, but I have to do my part just like Dorothy did. "Getting the Dorothy Dandrige film made was a long personal crusade for Berry, because she identified so much with the story. But while Dandridge died of a drugs overdose in 1965, Berry is now one of Hollywood's golden girls."Dorothy wanted to be treated like her white counterparts and she suffered for it. I realise I can't do that. It's like comparing the choices I make in my career to the choices Meg Ryan has. We're very different."
Away from the cameras, Berry has been taking time to get over the traumas of the last few years and is busy spending time with her blues singer boyfriend Eric Benet. Although the couple are rumoured to be considering marriage, Berry insists she's being careful about media exposure of her private life following the collapse of her first marriage."I'm going to be quiet from now on about my love life, You have to protect yourself." In fact Berry is content to shy away from the public side of celebrity in favour of a more 'normal' existence, in particularly hanging out on the beach."I take my dogs and skate. If I have a friend along we'll hang out on the beach. I like to go there to find peace and unwind."
Halle Berry's varied career with loyal fans
It's not easy, but this is the way she has kept her Hollywood career firing on all cylinders. She moves from producing to acting, from movies to television, from heavy drama to the action genre, from comedies to crime thrillers, from small independent films to big-budget blockbusters.
"One of the beauties of my career is my fans," said Berry, a Bedford High School graduate and former Miss Ohio. "The people who care about what I do tend to follow me in all different directions. I've done all different kinds of projects and been involved in different kinds of movies, and my fans have followed me.
"Critics have not always followed me, but my fans have. And I think it's partly my responsibility to take them into uncharted waters."
Following this philosophy, Berry is leading her fans toward two period pieces. The coming- of-age "Lackawanna Blues" is set in the mid-1950s, telling how young Ruben (Marcus Carl Franklin) absorbs life lessons from nurturing Rachel "Nanny" Crosby (S. Epatha Merkerson) and other residents of a crowded boardinghouse.
Berry's impressive cast includes Mos Def, Delroy Lindo, Macy Gray, Hill Harper, Julie Benz, Louis Gossett Jr., Ernie Hudson, Rosie Perez, Liev Schreiber, Henry Simmons, Patricia Wettig, Jimmy Smits and, yes, Santiago-Hudson.
Halle Berry's journey
"Their Eyes Were Watching God" is set in the '20s and '30s, following Janie on a journey to become her own person.
"What this character Janie does is really unheard of for the times," Berry said. "She was really more of a modern woman who could easily live in our society today. On that level, it was somewhat comfortable. It was a person that I really knew. . . . I think she was struggling to live and discover who she really was."
Berry's own journey took her from Cleveland, where she was born on Aug. 14, 1966. Judith Berry, her mother, moved the family to the suburbs when Halle was 10.
When asked to name the people who have influenced her the most, the actress-producer starts the list with her mom, who is a hospital nurse, and her fifth-grade teacher, Yvonne Simms.
Berry's big break might have been ABC's "Living Dolls," but the 1989 sitcom about four aspiring models was quickly canceled. Two years later, though, she made her film debut playing a crack addict in director Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever."
A steady run of film roles followed: Eddie Murphy's "Boomerang" (1992), "The Flintstones" (1994), "Losing Isaiah" (1995), "Executive Decision" (1995), "The Rich Man's Wife" (1996), "B.A.P.S." (1997), "Bulworth" (1998), "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" (1998), "X-Men" (2000) and "Swordfish" (2001).
Regularly jumping back to television, Berry also starred in such projects as the miniseries "Queen," the cable movie "Solomon and Sheba" and the ABC two-parter "Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding."
"I look for things that are challenging," Berry said of her decision to play Janie in "Their Eyes Were Watching God. "This book, I did love. I read it back in high school.
"So many people who have read the book come up to me on the street in the last three months and tell me, 'You better not mess this book up. I love her. This better be good.' So I feel a lot of pressure."
Winning an Emmy and an Oscar has not made it any easier for Berry, a black woman in Hollywood, to find good material.
"You know, it's still difficult," she said. "But what I've come to realize is it's difficult for everybody. I don't know how any movie ever gets made and brought to the screen. I mean, it's tough."
Like Janie, Berry also has had trouble finding true love. In 1996, her three-year marriage to former Cleveland Indians outfielder David Justice ended in divorce. And last month, she was divorced from her second husband, R&B singer Eric Benet, after four years of marriage.
"We're always going to be searching for love," Berry said when asked about the kinship she felt to Janie. "Without love, we don't have life. There's no reason to be here. So I think she was constantly on that journey."
It's a journey that ends with Janie "discovering what life is really all about and what love is all about," said Berry, who frequently returns to Cleveland to visit her mother and her sister, Heidi. "She's empowered now. She's more knowledgeable now. She's sort of starting to get it.
"And I certainly feel like, as I've gotten older, as years go by, as each high and low goes by, I finally start to get it . . . I know that I'm on the journey."
Halle Berry Sports New Hairstyle
Halle Berry appeared at the New York premiere for Lackawanna Blues at the Chelsea cinema, which she produced, in a chic white tight gown, revealing her curves. Her new hairdo is sleek straightened long hair slicked behind her ears.
One of the hottest accessories of the season – a snakeskin bag, together with those cream stiletto heels accompanies the whole outfit of famous beauty.
But it’s not all. On February 27th, the Hollywood film star will attract attention of all the guests of the 77th annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles by her shoes! According to contactmusic.com Berry is going to sparkle there with her diamond-encrusted footwear. The Catwoman star spent $1 million on her purchase of Stuart Weitzman’s design. Weitzman's unique trademark for shoe material (before diamonds) included vinyl, cork, Lucite, wallpaper, and 24-karat gold.
Halle Berry: Giving back
Halle Berry opened her home in the hills above Sunset Boulevard on Monday to host a party for acting coach Ivana Chubbuck. The intimate soiree, where the only light came from candles scattered throughout Berry's house, was a kickoff for the release of Chubbuck's book, "The Power of the Actor: The Chubbuck Technique." But it was obvious that Berry and other guests (like Kate Bosworth, Pink, Eva Mendes, Amy Smart and Garry Shandling) were there to pay homage to their acting god more than to help sales. "She taught me that it's OK to take risks," Berry explained. "When I met Ivana, I was afraid to do nudity. My first movie I did with her was 'Swordfish,' and she said to me 'You gotta do it. It's your biggest fear. Your hands are behind your back. If you can't really use your body as your instrument and forget what society thinks, forget what you think about yourself, forget all this bullsh*t that you have going around in your head trying to be loved and liked by everybody, if you can't let go of that then you're not a real artist.' And although that movie seemed like it was gratuitous nudity -- which it was -- it was much deeper for me." The risk and an acclaimed performance in "Monster's Ball" paid off with an Oscar for Berry, who thanked Chubbuck during her acceptance speech. "She helped me become a better woman, a better person, a better actor and my life is fully enriched because she's in it. She believes in me and I believe in her, which is why tonight, like the best thing I could do is to show her."
Halle Berry: If the catsuit fits
For decades, beautiful actresses have stepped into Catwoman's form-fitting costume. Will a veteran of comic-book adaptations more concerned with inner beauty make the role fresh for 2004? (Don't worry, the outfit is still hot.) "Catwoman" star Halle Berry stopped by "TRL" and told La La about putting on the catsuit, taking her action-film bumps and looking past the physical.
MTV: You've played the role of a comic character before, so why do it again? Is it like another challenge, a different type of comic character?
Halle Berry: Oh yeah! Catwoman is way different from Storm in "X-Men 2." In "X-Men," I was very much a part of an ensemble cast, and Storm really never got to really fully express herself and be the amazing character she is in the comic books because there are so many other characters and stories to tell. With "Catwoman," I get to be Catwoman, so it is all about her and her journey, you know? And so that makes it majorly different
MTV: For people that aren't familiar with the storyline, what would you say is the basic concept of "Catwoman"?
Berry: There have been so many incarnations of her, and there have been so many storylines that we could follow, but in our movie ... there is this woman, this meek, shy woman who is just really not in touch with her womanhood, her sexuality or her power as a human being, really.
And one unlucky night — or lucky night, depending on how you look at it — she is killed and reborn anew as this powerful, sexy, in-charge, confident, smart character, who is really walking the line of good and bad. She's certainly not a hero, but she's certainly not a villain either.
MTV: Let's talk about the costume for a minute. When you first saw it, what was your reaction? Was it like, "Oh, I can't wait to put this on, 'cause I know I'm gonna look hot," or "OK, this is a little much"?
Berry: I was like, "Whoa. Who's gonna wear that? Oh, me? Oh!" It was sexy. It was very different from ones of the past, but somehow the same. Black, sleek leather — very much like the ones from the past, but I also felt modern, updated — very, you know, 2004, which I really liked. Because to redo it the way it's been done before, you almost have to start asking yourself, "Why keep just redoing the same version of something?" in a way. So I was excited that it was different.
I had a lot of work ahead of me to be able to wear it.
MTV: It is a hot outfit. You're still getting the character, but you're feeling like, "OK, this is something that I could relate to right now."
Berry: Young people today can look at it and say, "Hey, I might get some pants like that," you know, and rock those today. That would be the ultimate compliment, if people felt that way.
MTV: In past movies, you have sustained a few injuries, whether it was "Die Another Day" or "Gothika," and this movie was pretty intense, too. Did anything happen to you on this film, or were you able to get off scot-free?
Berry: I always have little injuries along the way. I think when you work really hard, and you just throw yourself into things and are somewhat fearless, there are bound to be a few bumps and scrapes. I had my fair share. My whole knees, my shin from my knee down on my left leg is just done. It's just — like I was in a war. You're bound to have those, you know?
MTV: People's "50 Most Beautiful People" has recognized you seven times. How does that feel? I feel like your beauty is more of an inner beauty. You're beautiful on the outside, but I feel like you exude inner beauty. Do you think that is what the people in the magazines recognize?
Berry: I would hope so, because I know that this shell is just a shell and that certainly doesn't define beauty for me. I would hope it's something else. But at the same time, I have to say I'm not so sure what that means, you know? Beauty is so subjective. What one thinks is beautiful, [another] might not, or vice versa.
The fact that they choose me year after year — sometimes it's like a little baffling. I'm thinking, "Hmm. They picked me again. Well, alright!" But I do hope it's for more than just my physical self. I hope so.
Berry Razzie: Halle Berry Tops Razzie Nominations
Halle Berry has suffered huge disgrace with the Razzies, which rated the worst in film, giving it seven nominations. Halle Berry will certainly fall out of love with raspberry. 25th annual Golden Raspberry or "Razzie" award for the worst film of the year 2004 is most certainly going to Catwoman, strarring Halle Berry, who won the Oscar in 2002 for Monster’s Ball.
Halle Berry has suffered new disgrace with the Razzies, which rated the worst in film, giving it seven nominations. Catwomanhad been nominated for Worst Picture, Actress (Halle Berry), Worst Supporting Actor (Benjamin Brat), Worst Supporting Actress (Sharon Stone), Worst Couple (Halle Berry & either Benjamin Bratt or Sharon Stone), Worst Director, Pitof, Worst Screenplay (written by Theresa Rebeck, John Brancato, Michael Ferris and John Rogers).
Newly re-inaugurated US president George Bush is also one a nominee for the 25th annual Razzie Awards, as the worst actor for the Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/1.
Nominees were chosen by the votes of more than 600 film professionals, film journalists and film fans from US states and 15 foreign countries.
The "Razzie" winners will be announced on February 26, the day before the Oscars.
Alexander was second with six Razzie nominations, including worst picture, actor Colin Farrell, actress Angelina Jolie and director Oliver Stone.
Halle Berry will play in the Oprah's movie
With typical restraint, Oprah Winfrey explained why she had chosen to make a TV movie of Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”
“I love, love, love this book,” Winfrey told critics Sunday, the last day of the TV industry’s two-week preview marathon. “Other than ‘The Color Purple,’ I don’t think I’ve ever loved a book as much.”
Designated the world’s No. 1 Pop Idol by no less an authority than cable’s VH1, the artist known universally as Oprah was here not as talk show host or magazine mogul but in a slightly less visible role: as executive producer of ABC’s “Oprah Winfrey Presents” series of dramas.
Winfrey wears more hats than a baseball team, which has left her less time to produce than she would like. She has not made a movie since ABC’s “Amy & Isabelle” in 2001.
What drove her to make this one — and to appear before critics for the first time since she promoted “The Women of Brewster Place” in 1989 — was her conviction that Hurston, an African-American novelist who died in 1960, is a neglected master.
Winfrey hopes the film, which stars Halle Berry as an independent spirit fighting the constraints of the South of the 1920s, will introduce the book to “a public that probably never knew she existed,” she said. “I’m still astounded when I bring up her name and people who are supposed to know something about books don’t know her name.”
The movie, directed by Darnell Martin from a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog/Underdog”), will premiere March 6. But Winfrey said it had been on her mind for about a decade.
Not quite three years ago, she took the plunge and called her friend Berry about it.
The actress, Winfrey recalled, had won an Oscar for “Monster’s Ball” the night before.
“I thought, ‘I better get in now, because I know everybody else is going to be calling her up. And I know it’s a bold move to say, ‘Congratulations, you looked really nice at the Academy, but could you do that movie I’ve been talking about for 10 years?’”
In fact, to hear America’s champion talker tell it, she was nervous about the call: “I didn’t know whether she was going to be, like” — here Winfrey adopted a “Masterpiece Theatre” tone — “‘Now I have an Oscar. I’m sorry. I cannot talk to you.’”
“Not when Oprah calls and asks you, and not when it’s a book you love,” said Berry.
Given a chance to portray one of Hurston’s women, Berry added, “I’d do it on a street corner in New York City.”
For Berry, one perk of filming was getting slapped by 80-year-old co-star Ruby Dee. In character, of course.
“Maybe she’s 5 feet tall, if she’s that tall,” Berry said, so “when the smack came up (in the script), I told Darnell, ‘Somebody needs to tell her it’s OK to slap me. I’ll be OK.’
“Well, the first time she slapped me, she slapped me to the ground,” the actress said with a grin.
Hollywood Producers Racist Accuses Halle Berry
BERRY SLAMS HOLLYWOOD PRODUCERS AND DIRECTORS.
American actress HALLE BERRY has accused Hollywood producers and directors of being prejudiced against black women.
Berry hoped she had made a major breakthrough when she won the Best Actress ACADEMY AWARD in 2002 for her role in MONSTER'S BALL, but she has had to resort to developing films herself to create the kind of parts she wan ts.
The 38-year-old says, "The struggle for the woman of colour to find good material is still very present, and it's a struggle I fight every day. I try to make the best out of what comes to me but it's going to be about making my own reality really.
"I've been called a n**ger straight to my face...but there's also much more subtle insidious ways that racism occurs here in Hollywood.
"I don't care what anyone says - they may think it doesn't exist, but it's usually those who aren't black who think that."
Halle Berry and Michael Ely Co-habit
HALLE MOVING IN WITH BOYFRIEND?
OSCAR-winning actress HALLE BERRY has taken a major step in her romance with MICHAEL EALY - she's moving him into her new home.
The MONSTER'S BALL beauty started dating the BARBERSHOP star after her marriage to ERIC BENET came to an end last year (03), and now pals say that once construction is completed on her Malibu, California, home, she'll move her new beau in.
The two were recently seen inspecting the $8 million (£4.2 million) four-bedroom, five-bathroom home, where they shared a champagne toast before going for a romantic beach stroll.
Halle Berry stars in "Gothika"
Question: Do you have an ideal thing you want to see Storm do, do you have a vision of something you always wanted her to do that hasn't been done in the past two movies?
Answer: Well, I think my desires have been dictated by what the fans have come to me with, and what their complaints have been. After every movie, especially the real diehard fans, they often say 'yeah you know Storm was okay, but she should do more. She should fly, she should fight, she should be more of what she is in the comic book series". I'm not really complaining, I'm happy to be a part of it as its been a great franchise to be a part of, but I think the fans feel that in the comic book she's represented as a little bit more of a leader and to use her power to do a little more than changing her eyes and changing the weather. So, as they continue to tell me this, I continue to try and pass this along to no avail, so maybe the next time - whether I play Storm or not - maybe the character will get to do more of what she traditionally does in the comic book.
Question: So you haven't made up your mind about doing a third move?
Answer: No I haven't simply because I haven't seen a script, I haven't been offered the third movie, so I have no idea if it will come my way or not.
Question: If I can ask you a question on Gothika, wasn't your mom a psychiatric nurse?
Question: Did that inform your performance at all?
Answer: Oh, yeah. My mom was a psych nurse at a VA hospital for thirty-five years and I've grown up with that in my life - therapy and psychology and always knowing the value and the benefit of it, so when I read the script I just related to it because that's always been a part of my life. My mom was really helpful in telling me what things a person in that situation would feel, what they might do, what they wouldn't do and just helped me get into the mind of someone who is all of a sudden a doctor and the next day, they're now a patient in their own hospital and don't know how the hell they got there. She was really instrumental in helping me.
Question: What sorts of things did she tell you?
Answer: That's something I really can't divulge - the secrets of the trade. But really helpful, helpful things.
Question: Have you seen the other Dark Castle films? Did you just want to do a horror movie as it was different from what you've done before?
Answer: That was the first reason, and I'm also a big fan and a great friend of Joel Silver and he was the one who initially offered this to me and it was quite ironic the way it happened. I was at the premiere of Star Trek, there to support Patrick Stewart. I looked over and I saw Joel before the curtain went up and I went over and said, "Hi, Joel" and he said "Oh, my God - you must be so busy after the Oscar. What are you doing?" I said "Well, I don't really have a job confirmed yet for after Christmas". He said "You don't?" and I said "No, really - I don't. There's nothing". He said, "I've got a movie for you!" and I thought, 'Okay, it's Joel, he loves me, but I'll bet I won't really like it because he said it's a horror movie so I'm like hmmm, ok". I got the script and by page ten, I was just flipping, flipping, flipping and it really was a great character study especially for a woman to play.
Question: There have been a lot of mental hospital horror films over the years - is this kind of modern or is it done, as the title suggests, in an old Gothic insane asylum style of sorts?
Answer: It's a little bit of both. It's set in the current modern day, so it's very new, but it's got some great elements of the past and has a great Gothic feel to it. The sets and the locations that we went to have an old, Gothic mysterious feel to them, so we tried to mix old and new. The word Gothika - obviously it's spelled differently - is just a play on the word and a play on what the word "gothic" really means, sort of like Pulp Fiction was to "pulp fiction".
Question: Can you tell us a little bit about how your relationship with comics has changed over the years? Did you have favourite heroes, favourite villains, etc. Did you read them as a child?
Answer: I read them as a kid. I wasn't an avid comic book reader, but I did read them. Batman was probably the biggest one - it was something I related to, so it's really great that now I get to be Catwoman. Eartha Kitt was Catwoman and being a woman of colour, that meant a lot to me as a kid to see someone like me playing a character that was so universal. So, that theme has sort of come full circle for me now as I get to be the Catwoman for the new century - that feels really good.
Question: Can you tell us a bit about how you are preparing for Catwoman?
Answer: I can't tell you at this time, I just got back from Gothika last night and now my next movie is to jump into Catwoman which starts in the fall, so I'll look to find out how I can bring my own personality to it and bring something if not new, something different. Catwoman is Catwoman, so I think we're going to try new things with the costume and I think you'll see some things you haven't seen before. It really is the story of how she became Catwoman, she's not just a side character in a Batman movie now. It's really her journey and I think you'll learn some interesting things about the character that people don't know much about.
Question: Will it be connected to the Batman mythos or is it more independent?
Answer: Totally independent.
Question: If I'd broken my arm working on a movie, I'd be scared off action movies for a while, but you're about to start Catwoman, you may be doing Jinx and X3 - your doing more of it now?
Answer: Well, because this didn't happen during a stunt. I've done a lot of stunts in movies and I've never gotten hurt doing a stunt myself. When I hurt my eye in Bond, it was because something that had nothing to do with me just hit me in the face and when I broke my arm, I was doing a scene with Robert Downey Jr. and he just grabbed my arm the wrong way and broke it. So, this shouldn't have happened do you know what I mean? It wasn't like I was trying to fall from fifty feet and fell the wrong way and missed the mat or did something crazy. It was just a freak thing that happened, so it hasn't scared me off. I love stunts, I was a gymnast as a kid, I love that part of movie-making and if I can just heal this fast enough to do my stunts on Catwoman, that's my only concern - will I be able to do all the things I was thinking of doing while nursing this back to health.
Question: Will you talk a little about the supernatural elements in Gothika?
Answer: Yeah, I don't know if I can say that....Yeah, and I'm scared because they put a gun to your head, so you'd better not say! But there is a supernatural element which makes it a classic horror film in some ways because there's some things that happen that are just unexplainable and unexpected that are part of a good horror movies. It also has that psychological thriller element because a lot of it does make sense. It's not just a slasher movie, there's a lot of things in it that's twisty and turny and there's a story and a plot that really needs to be figured out.
Question: Now, you're known to really immersing yourself in roles - what was it like getting into the head of the person you're playing here as its a rather extreme situation?
Answer: You know, it was which made for a very interesting shooting experience for all of us. When you're in these dark places, gothic places, old places - I'm really spiritual - and I'm sure they had spirits lurking around and I think that everybody on the crew felt it. In the first two weeks of being there, the house I was staying in got broken into, but yet there were no signs of breaking and entering - no lock picked, no glass broken. That started me off the first week I was there. So, lots of really spooky things like that happened.
Question: Where you were staying or filming?
Answer: Where I was living - and I moved out after that happened, I'm going to the hotel.
Question: Were things moved around?
Answer: Yeah, on the third floor where I heard the noises, yeah. Someone was there. The police came and someone officially came and broke into my house. It was just spooky that we don't know how they got in. They must have just walked in somehow because there was no sign of breaking and entering, but obviously someone had been in there.
Question: Was anything taken?
Answer: There was nothing to take because when I go on location, I just take sweats and t-shirts and not much else.
Question: But you don't think it was supernatural?
Answer: No, no. In light of what we were shooting, it was just a spooky thought, but I don't think a ghost came in or anything.
Question: What was Kassovitz like as a director? We don't know much about him over here beyond Crimson Rivers...
Answer: And his great acting job in Amelie, he was really good in that movie. He's great, he had a lot of innovative ideas. On some levels, this is an old story in some ways, but he brought a lot of innovative twists and turns to it. He brought an edgy feel. Our DP, Manny Lebatique, also brought a real edgy vibe - he did Requiem for a Dream so he brings a lot of real interesting camera work and lighting that make it not only scary, but really edge-of-your-seat kind of feel.
Question: How was the shoot? Was it more arduous than usual? Were there any sequences that stand out in your mind from when you were filming them?
Answer: It was more difficult because for half of it, I had a broken arm so I was trying to act and put my arm in weird ways as they tried to shoot around it. That was a challenge for me because I'm so used to being able to do whatever and now I had this pink elephant that I had to hide - so that was challenging. There's one great action sequence where my character escapes and goes on this journey. I've seen it and it's one hell of a journey she goes on one night.
Question: Does Gothika have any elements of a women-in-prison film - my favourite type?
Answer: Then yes. Well, there are lots of women in prison! We have a great shower scene with fifty naked women that is pretty interesting because there aren't only naked women in the shower - it's not about them being naked, so you won't see anything. It was shot very tasteful and it was very interesting the way it was shot - but there's something "going on" - it's not just women showering. There's something really intense going on while they're showering, which makes it really weird.
Question: Is there going to be a Jinx movie?
Answer: I'm hoping. We just got the script last night - the first script - and I hear it's really, really good. I've been talking to the writers about it and they had a great idea for who she is and where she comes from and I think it won't be like Bond - it's not supposed to be a female Bond - but it is very edgy and I think we'll have some elements of that humour that Bond has because Jinx had that in the Bond movie, but it won't be as tongue-in-cheek as Bond.
The Quiet American Interview with Halle Bery
Aussie director Phillip Noyce can relax - literally. After having shot two films back to back in his native Australia, hey are both about to open in the US and a week apart. No wonder when we meet in a West Hollywood hotel room, he would prefer to lie down on a nearby sofa. At the height of Noyce's Hollywood career, as director of such big-budget studio films as Clear and Present Danger and The Saint, Noyce would always maintain that it was preferable to make films in Hollywood with a ton of money at his disposal, rather than return to Australia to the world of low budget filmmaking he left behind. Returning home for the first time since Dead Calm, Noyce settled on making not one, but two films simultaneously: Rabbit Proof Fence and his politically courageous Quiet American. "Mate, I was turning 50, time to take stock and slow down." He was hardly slowing down though making both of these politically conscious films back to back. "I never do things in half measure", says Noyce, laughingly. "When I was smoking it was 6 packs a day while a reasonable addict would have had only three, so when I decided to take a break from Hollywood and work in Australia, I decided to make two films instead of one, which seemed reasonable." Despite the hard work it took to shoot both films, Noyce doesn't rule out doing that again. "It came in handy. You spend most of your time in post-production waiting for a lot of people to make the changes and so on or you're always waiting for people. Doing two at once means you don't have to wait but rather they're waiting on YOU. Now I'm doing promotion here inn the US and am doing Rabbit Proof and Quiet American at the same time since they're coming out a week apart."
While Fence has already garnered praise and awards in Australia, focus here in the US is on The Quiet American, which Miramax is finally releasing this weekend for a two-week pre-Oscar qualifying period. Based on the Graham Greene novel set in 1950s Vietnam, the film revolves around drug-addicted reporter Fowler [Michael Caine] and his relationships with a beautiful young Vietnamese woman and a CIA operative [Brendan Fraser]. From the moment Noyce had picked up Greene's novel while in Vietnam, the award-winning Australian director was determined to eventually bring it to the screen, having instilled in him such a ferocious passion. "It's the multi-faceted nature of the story that appealed to me", explains Noyce. "If it were just the murder mystery, it'd be great, if were just a complicated love triangle romance, it would be great, if it were just a political thriller it would be great, but it's all three all rolled into one. There's also something weird about what Greene wrote about." Weird, Noyce elucidates, "in the way it was so prescient in the mid-1950s, providing clues to answers to questions that had not yet been asked about the American Vietnam conflict. And there was also something about it that was prescient and TIMELESS, even with relevance TODAY. It seemed to me that here was a movie that existed as a good story and as a cautionary tale." Noyce's Quiet American is the second film version of the Green novel, and insists that his is far more timely than the original fifties version, a film known to have been hated by the author. "When the first film version came out, America was not yet embroiled, officially in Vietnam. Now, that misadventure is over, but there are other misadventures on the horizon, so suddenly, the evangelical zeal of the Brendan Fraser character, his passion to fight the ‘ism' of the time, suddenly becomes a potential comment about another time and another ‘ism'."
The timeliness for the release of the film, given current political events, is eerie, to say the least, but Noyce jokingly insists, "That it's all planned, mate. You survive in this game, you've got to have your ear to the ground and instincts honed and see it all." But all joking aside, the film's stark comments on American intrusiveness in international affairs, didn't fare so well in the post 9/11 climate of American culture and politics. Delayed for a year, there was a real chance that the film's US distributor, Miramax, would never release the film. "I was told privately it was as good as dead. The film never had a release date and privately I was told it was not going to get one." None of that came as a major surprise to the director, however, "Because the movie tested abysmally in America in the months after 9/11, though at the same time we were screening it in Australia to very good results. It was unfortunate that we were testing it on the East Coast in the New York area in the months after 9/11. I mean there were people watching the movie who had lost family members to a terrorist attack that they were being reminded of directly in the movie. Then there were other people who were feeling EXTREMELY violated who were asked to be self-critical of Americans. So that was not the time and certainly not the place for any of that." Noyce admits, "We were butting our heads against a brick wall, as it was scoring well to worse; it just kept going down."
Michael Caine, who has since received the best reviews of his career, was the film's consistent champion, and insisted that Miramax give the movie a go. With reluctance, the studio agreed to take The Quiet American to the Toronto Film Festival. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and Noyce felt finally vindicated. "I was amazed at what happened in Toronto, having accepted by that point that I had probably made a turkey." Which is why he remains genuinely surprised at the film's positive critical response, not only to Caine's performance, but also to Noyce's direction. "Everything surprises me in this game," says a laughing Noyce. "It's showbusiness, you know, with no right or wrong. It's just a rollercoaster." A rollercoaster that had its ups and downs for the director, who has been making films now for over 20 years. Not all as successfully as Quiet American. One remembers the critical backlash he received over The Saint, for instance, but Noyce remains philosophical. "You never know what's going to happen in this game. When you start out, you do your work then something nice or terrible happens and that can change things."
Noyce is also riding high on the international critical success he is receiving for Rabbit Proof Fence, already a big hit in his native Australia. Already scheduled to open here a week after Quiet American, he agrees that there are some parallels between the two films. "They both feature evangelists. In a sense the catalyst for each story is a man who kills with kindness. The Brendan Fraser and Kenneth Branagh characters in both films are convinced that they're doing the right thing, in that what each of them wants to do is rescue." While Rabbit Proof is such an Australian story, in its depiction of the tragic relationship between black and white Australia that marred its history, Noyce hopes that American audiences "will respond to the commonality in the story, how this story of that young Aboriginal girl reminds us that we're all the same. While on the surface the story might be about a 14-year old Aboriginal girl, in outback Western Australia in 1931, in fact what we're finding here in America is that audiences get caught up very heavily in the story on an emotional level. I hope Americans will join in the celebration of common human feelings."
Having return to his more low-budget roots as a filmmaker, Noyce says that he hasn't turned his back on mainstream Hollywood by any means. "The great thing about Hollywood is there ability to finance movies. The difference is, you can either tell your own stories or somebody else's. It would be silly to say: You'll never go back to Hollywood, because Hollywood is a mechanism that allows people to make movies; you've just got to make sure you make the right ones."