Academy Award winning actress discusses making the third film, the possibility of X-Men 4 and her new film Perfect Stranger with Bruce Willis
It seems like Halle Berry has been around forever but that's probably because this actress has been seen in so many high profile movies. Playing a drug addict in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever is the film that launched her career, but she has remained consistent working on such films as the grippingly suspenseful Executive Decision, the actionfest Swordfish and eventually winning the Academy Award in 2001's Monster's Ball.
Playing the character of Storm in the X-Men movies, Berry has had the chance to prove she can also easily play the role of a superhero. Considering the inspiring life she has led, it should come as no surprise that in X-Men: The Last Stand, we get to see a fuller evolution of her character.
THIS INTERVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS ABOUT THE FILM! READ WITH CAUTION...
In X-Men: The Last Stand your character plays more of a lead role and is more developed. Did you have input into that?
Halle Berry: Well, I've been trying for years because the fans would really accost me on the street and be vocally angry that Storm, "Why doesn't she fly with her cape?!?" "Why doesn't she fight?!?" They would like attack me. So I then internalized that and I would go to the studio, "I wanna fly with my cape!!" And they'd be like, "Well Halle, you're nuts." And I would say, "This is the feedback I'm getting. I think Storm does a little bit more in the comic book and the fans aren't happy. It's not about me having more but if I'm gonna be on for ten minutes, can I say something important for ten minutes instead of 'Where's the plane?'"
So this time around I just asked, "Please, can Storm have a voice?" And then Brett came on board and it's really due to Brett because Brett felt the same way. Being a spectator of the X-Men he felt the same way. And he saw to it that it actually happened.
What is Brett like?
Halle Berry: Brett is five. He's five years old in like a big man's body. That made for a lot of fun on the set. He's very social and he loves people and he loves making movies. He loves the X-Men. Did you hear about when he showed up one day in Hugh's costume? One day, we're really late at night working maybe it's like three o'clock in the morning and we're all tired, and here he comes around the corner in Hugh's clothes. Imagine how silly that looked! And he's got the wig on, the beard, the whole thing. He is Wolverine for the night. That's the kind of stuff he would do because he just loves the process.
Are we going to see Catwoman 2?
Halle Berry: I love my Catwoman! You know, I doubt that's gonna happen. It would have been fun because I really I loved playing that character. We could have had a better script, granted. I wish we had the second chance to do it again. I think we would do it differently. I doubt we're gonna get a chance.
Which X-Men power would you like to have?
Halle Berry: You know, because I really can't do that after three X-Men movies, I have a hard time expanding my brain these days to phantom that because I know it's not really possible. I think keeping in line with what this movie is about, I would keep myself exactly the way I am. I would stay this mortal person that I am and do life the way I've been doing it, because that's what I know and that's what feels good to me. I honestly don't know if I would choose one of these powers.
Action movies are usually just eye candy. Yet, this movie has action and deals with many deep issues. What are you hoping people take home from X-Men: The Last Stand?
Halle Berry: That thought, which is what's great about X-Men, which is why I think it's a comic book, eye candy movie that has survived three movies and maybe there will be a fourth one, who knows? Because there is an issue that is really relevant. That every single person can understand and relate to and that is dealing with our differences. All of us at this table are all different and at some point in our life we've had to deal with that. We're always forced to deal with who we are and is it okay to stay who we are? Or do we need to change? Is it okay to be who we are? That's what The Last Stand is all about.
People see your public persona and think, "This woman was never an outcast..."
Halle Berry: Still an outcast. I mean, being a woman of color in a town that I've been working in for almost two decades. It's been a challenge because there's not always been a way for me. Nobody paved this path for me and Hollywood is learning now, but in the beginning, when I first started, it was really tough to find great roles for woman of color. Now, the young crop coming in, there's many more opportunities for them today. Even today, I still get told for roles I really want, "Oh, we don't want a black actress." "Well why? I'm the right age, I can play the part, why? Why does it matter?" "Well, because she's married to a white guy and that's just gonna make the family look funny." "Well, this is America everybody! It's happening all around it. Get with it."
How have you had to adapt your acting skills due to the amount of CGI that's now employed in films?
Halle Berry: It's just made it easier. The more the industry grows and the more technology is introduced to us, it just makes playing these characters that much easier. It's not so much fantasy as it used to be. We get to see a computer generated image of what it's actually going to be, we didn't have that in the first X-Men. The director would just explain to us, "Okay here's how it's gonna be..." but there wasn't anything to show us. Now, Brett can come and say, "Here's what the scene's gonna look like." And it's all animated and computerized and it's right there on his computer. Then we can change it... right there on the spot to see what that is going to look like. It's much more helpful today with all this new technology.
What advice would you give young actresses, especially young actresses of color, about getting into the business?
Halle Berry: I would say you just really have to love it. If you don't love it than don't do it. Because it's a tough industry. Many industries are today no matter what you want to do, but this one you're faced with a lot of personal and public criticism and scrutiny; there's a lot of rejection. There's a certain amount of strength and tough skin that if you don't have you have to develop really quickly. So this job isn't for everybody. Not everybody withstands that pressure and that public scrutiny.
You were a great sport about accepting that Catwoman Razzie Award...
Halle Berry: That was fun. You know what, and this is really true, when I got there and I walked out they were so happy that I was there that I had a really emotional moment. Like I really did! And I know I was there to get the worst actress but I had a real emotional moment and I realized that none of it matters. Whether you're getting the worst or the best award, nobody's the best or the worst but the love that I got from the people that were in that room, that voted me to be the worst, it was like this odd twisted moment but it felt really good to be there, actually. I was really glad I went and I had fun with that. It sort of took the piss out on them because it made it all go away for me.
What is your favorite Halle Berry movie?
Halle Berry: Any time I'm surfing and I see me, I'm like "TURN THAT OFF!" I can't even look at it. So I can't even tell you. I see them once at the premiere, or twice if I have to and then that's it, I never see them again.
Is there one you're most proud of making?
Halle Berry: Proud of making? Was Dorothy Dandridge because that's my first project that I produced with my partner there. It was a labor of love. I love her so much and I wanted to tell her story so much that I loved every moment of making it, of producing it. I didn't really know what I was doing but I was figuring it out as I went. It was my first project but I just loved it. When I think back to my happiest moments it was when that movie got made and we saw it all come together. We were at the first screening of it and I thought, "Wow, I had an idea, we had a thought and we did it." That was just surreal.
Which of your awards holds the most meaning for you and why?
Halle Berry: Of course, the Academy Award. On a social level, what that said that night, what that meant that night really felt important to me. Because that was an award that had alluded a woman of color for so many years. Dorothy Dandridge was the first hopeful so when I came along it was another chance to either repeat history or change history. And being able to change history is meaningful beyond words. What I know, because people that I've seen since that night, so many people have said that inspired them. People that aren't even actors. It inspired people in whatever their jobs were. They felt like I can do better, I can be more.
Is it fun and exciting working Hugh Jackman?
Halle Berry: Yeah, I love Hugh, I really do. I hope if X-Men comes to an end this time we find something else to do together, because he's just one of those people. We have a great relationship. I respect him so much as a man and as a father and as a husband. All that's good about him, he's that guy.
Can you talk about Perfect Stranger and the other films you're working on?
Halle Berry: Well, Perfect Stranger I just finished with Bruce Willis. Which is sort of a suspense thriller about the darkness of the internet, and how everybody has secrets and nobody is who you think they are. My character gets all tangled up in some mess on the internet. Then Things We Lost In the Fire is with Benicio Del Toro for DreamWorks. That's a little, sort of art movie... about a woman who loses her husband and has to deal with the death. She has two little children and Benicio comes into her life and he helps her deal with the loss.
X-Men: The Last Stand opens in theaters on May 26th, 2006 from 20th Century Fox.