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INT: Halle Berry

04.13.2007

Not only is she one of the most beautiful woman working today (at 40!), Halle Berry is also a damn fine actress. That's a gap many Hollywood hotties haven't been able to bridge, but Halle sure has. The talented woman's earned herself an Emmy, a Golden Globe, an Academy Award (for MONSTER'S BALL), and just recently, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She also won a Razzie for CATWOMAN... but we can forgive her for that one. At least she was awesome enough to go up and accept the award in person, even going as far as to parody her dramatic Oscar speech the year before. She earned my complete respect after that stunt. How many other celebrities are that cool? Hot, classy, and funny.

JoBlo.com was invited recently to get an early look at the thriller PERFECT STRANGER, Halle 's latest acting venture (where she headlines alongside Bruce Willis), and have a sit-down with the extraordinary star. And goddamn is she beautiful. You know those paparazzi that constantly get candid shots of stars that reveal how artificial their beauty is? I'd sure like to see them take a bad picture of Halle Berry . She is just absolutely stunning in person, and intelligent to boot!

On top of talking a bit about where her life is heading (in terms of being 40 and now wanting children), she also spilled the beans on four of her upcoming projects – THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE (with Benicio Del Toro), CLASS ACT, TULIA, and most interestingly, NAPPILY EVER AFTER. In it, she's going to be shaving her head. That's right – completely bald. Let me repeat that so it sinks in... completely bald. Well, if Natalie Portman was able to pull it off, I'm sure Halle will be able to as well. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. But until then, here's the transcript of the interview to hold you over on all Berry goodness.

Halle Berry

You took journalism at school...

Very briefly, must I say.

What kind of journalism did you want to do? Anything like your character in 'Perfect Stranger'?

I wanted to do this hard-core stuff you guys do. [Laughs] Well, unfortunately because I didn’t study it long enough, I hadn’t really decided that yet. So I really don’t know, but I knew that I was a good writer in high school and won awards, and I was the editor of my school newspaper. So I knew that I was a good writer and I wanted to somehow capitalize and sort of utilize a talent that I thought I had. How it would have manifested, I don’t really know.

The producer and director were singing their praises about how into the character you were – what made you so passionate about playing this role?

Well, you know, I love a character that gives me a chance to grow and do something different, and Row was so multifaceted. I've never played a character who played a character who played a character, and that gave me a chance as an artist to sort of stretch my limits and to challenge myself. When I read the movie and I got to the end, I thought, 'Wow, I don’t know how I’m going to pull this off [or] if I can, but I’m going to go down trying,' because that’s how impassioned I was about it.

There's a line in the movie, 'What is it with powerful women and shitty men?'

I wish I knew. The course of my life would be different if I knew the answer to that question.

Did you find that funny when you read it?

Hysterical, and I wish I had learned the answer to that before the age of 40.

No, life might’ve been boring.

Yeah, okay. Life would’ve been a big bore.

Do you find yourself feeling a little wiser now? Still learning?

Always learning, because I think as long as we’re here, if we’re logged on at all to this experience, then we’re learning. But I do think – I would say a magical thing happened when the big 40th birthday came. It was really magical in a way for me. I felt like a light kind of just went off and maybe because I felt like at 40, I had the right to be who I wanted to be and say what I wanted to say and not accept what I didn’t want to accept, like maybe it was me that felt the shift, but I do think I’ve gotten wiser and I’ve learned lots of lessons.

Are you at the point where you don’t care what people think?

Yeah. I was getting there slowly by slowly when I turned 35. But at 40, I really get it in a real way. It doesn’t matter what they think. Do people really care? Nobody goes home really pondering what Halle Berry did or said.

Perfect example – you kissed the star yesterday.

Yeah. And then somebody told, reminding me, 'You know that crack heads and drug addicts...' Then I thought, 'Thanks, did you have to remind me?' But yeah, it was just a spontaneous thing. I felt so proud of it and I felt like that’s what I wanted to do, so that’s what I did.

Did getting the star sort of re-legitimize who you are as an actress?

Yeah. You know, it was yet again another profound moment in my career. After the Oscar, I wasn’t so sure I would ever have another one. And I was surprised that I found myself standing up there on the verge of like tears again, because I’m an emotional train wreck. And I found myself up there really moved and really feeling proud and knowing that, while it seemed like a simple star in the ground, but it represented history and that I was a part of it. And the fact that my star is like right in the entrance of the Kodak Theatre said to me, 'Okay, I’ve got a piece of prime real estate here. It wasn’t a bad day. It’s a good day.'

So you have an Emmy, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, and a star. What is it that’s left for you to do? Maybe a Grammy?

A Grammy! If I could win a Grammy, that’d be doing something. Because I can’t hold a note.

Can you think of something you really want to do?

Yeah, there’s lots of things. You know, I mean I want to be a mother, like that feels really important. Career is one thing and I think I’ve gotten a lot out of this career and made the most of my opportunities but I am starting to feel like I need something more meaningful to wake me up in the morning, and it’s feeling very much like it’s family, it’s children.

Are you thinking about numbers? How many?

Oh God, I’m just hoping for one. I’m just hoping for one right now.

What kind of relationship did you have with director on the set?

A very – you know, he is and you ask anybody and I would bet my life on this. You ask any actor that he has worked with and they all have loved him. They had to have. He is an actor’s director. He is one of these unique directors that actually has the vocabulary to speak to actors and that’s a different language really because actors sometimes, you know, have to hear words from an organic place, not an intellectual places because sometimes, the choices we make as actor aren’t based in anything cerebral.

They’re just human emotions that are unexplainable sometimes and James Foley knows how to speak to us in those terms and he supports us. I remember on the first day of shooting – you know, everybody’s a little tense. As actors, we’re all very insecure and we just want the director to like what we’ve been working on the night before for the first day. So I’m with Giovanni and we’re in that Chemley scene at the restaurant and we do the first take, and after the first take every one of us is kind of looking like, 'Okay... was that okay? How was that?' And all we hear from another room, because he’s in another room watching the monitor, we hear, [screaming] 'YES!' We’re like, 'What the hell was that?' And it’s James Foley and he was back there screaming. And that was the tone that he set and when we did something that he loved. We got that and when we didn’t, of course he didn’t, but when we can get that from him and we all felt okay.

The director also said you were 100% comfortable with your beauty.

I think that’s also comes with 40, you know, and just getting older. I’ve become really comfortable with my sexuality and making no excuses for it anymore. It’s part of being a woman; it's part of what empowers us when we’re smart enough to know how to use it. The character of Row certainly knew how to use it, and I think I’ve been learning as I’ve gotten older. I’ve become comfortable with that side of who I am. In the beginning, I used to have to downplay it because I wanted to be taken so seriously as a thespian and as an artist and as an actor, so I’d play crack heads and down trotting women and disguise myself, and I think as I’ve gotten older, I become more comfortable with who I really am and all parts of me knowing that my physical self doesn’t diminish me in any way or my talent.

There are some pretty intense close-ups in the film. Did you have any feelings about the camera being right there in your face?

Well, I’m not an actor who knows where the camera ever is. I’ve worked with actors who are always aware of not only where the camera is, but what lens is on the camera. I’m sort of oblivious to it. I try to black it out. I never care if it’s on me, not on me, if it’s a close shot or a wide shot, I believe you have to do 100% your best every shot – you know, every take. So no, I really wasn’t aware. I probably should’ve been. Once seeing the movie, I’ll probably think I should’ve like said something about that but I really don’t – I don’t care.

At this point in your career, what validates the work for you? How do you know when you’ve nailed it or hit it?

I never really know when I’ve nailed it or when I’ve hit it. I think what validates it today is the fans. When people come up to me, I mean a lot of people – now you’re going to probably walk up out of this room right now when I say this. I’m going to say it anyway. A lot of fans – a lot of people liked Catwoman, and it’s validated. You’d be surprised how many people, especially young girls, came up and they really liked it and so that’s the validation. I try to focus on the positive of things and so the validation is really from the fans because that’s who we make movies for, for people and for fans and I think it’s our job to offer them a variety, you know and do different kinds of things.

But if you didn’t have that validation from them, would you feel okay about the work?

Oh, yeah because I know every time for good or for bad, I give 100% of what I have to give in that moment and I make choices based on what’s happening in my life at that moment, what I’m most needing to do, sometimes for personal reasons, sometimes for the art of it. So knowing that I make decisions from the right place, I can live with that at night, no matter what the outcome of the project.

You have Class Act coming up. Is that with Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas (the producer of 'Perfect Stranger')?

Yes, we’re the producer of that, yeah.

There are a lot of movies about teachers. Can you talk about how this film will be different? What you're going to bring to the character?

We’ll see, I don’t know yet. I haven’t even begun to delve into who that woman is right now. So I’ll tell you about it on that junket because I really don’t – you know, it’s something that’s not really close to me right now. That’d probably not go for another year and a half.

Before that then, you’ve got?

I’ve got a movie coming out in the fall called 'Things We Lost in the Fire' with Benicio Del Toro, directed by Susanne Bier, a Danish director.

Can you talk about Benicio?

Benicio was great. He’s somebody that I always wanted to work with and I remembering sitting at junkets and people saying, 'Who would you really love to work with?' And I always would say, 'Benicio Del Toro, Benicio Del Toro.' And so I finally got a chance to do that and he is one of my generation. He’s one of the greatest and I got to work and watch and learn, and to play somebody who’s that good and that instinctually organic. It was really fun.

It's going to be a powerful film, isn’t it?

It’s very different from this movie on many levels. It’s a little small movie that deals with love and loss, and it’s very different in the sense that you know, this is sort of designed to be a crowd pleaser – a 'who dunnit.' You know, this is a slice of life movie – a little movie that will probably take the festival route this year.

Do you prefer doing those types of movies?

I prefer that I get to go in-between the genres, you know, and I prefer that I get to do studio movies and then little movies. If I had to do one or the other, I think I would be probably bored and probably unhappy.

So now that you've worked with Benicio, who would you like to work with now?

I still want to work with Denzel Washington. I’ve been saying that now for years and I think that’s still a desire of mine. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’m hoping that one day the right script will come along and Denzel and I will get to do something.

With this movie being as intricate as it was, did you have to stick to the script at all times, or were you able to go off the page a bit?

We had to stick with it. I mean as you may have read in the press, Bruce likes to improv a little bit. So he did a little bit of that but for the most part, we kind of had to stick to the script. I mean everybody would come up with a line here or there. You know, just sometimes as an actor, you find that the way the writer wrote a line just doesn’t come out of your mouth right. So we change it a lot, but we don’t change the intention, but we sometimes change how it comes out of our mouths. It’s very hard to write for people that you don’t know and sometimes words just flow differently and so we had delivery always to change the little words, always keeping the intention of the line and of the scene the same.

What are the challenges for you to find the right projects while not repeating yourself?

That’s the key, not to repeat myself. And that’s tough, because I don’t know what the right scripts are. I just try to be instinctual about it and when I read a script, if I feel like it’s something new, if it scares me to death. I usually think, 'Okay, I haven’t done this. Maybe I should think about trying.' You know, I just try to always work in different genres, never to become you know bored or never to get pigeonholed in a box you know, never being limited to only playing one kind of character.

Is there character you’re yearning to play?

Well, I’d really like to be in a romantic comedy, and I do have one coming up called 'Nappily Ever After'. I’m going to shave my hair, shave my head bald for this movie.

Seriously?

I can’t wait. I’m going to be greasehead bald. I can’t wait.

When is that?

That could be at the end of the summer.

You’re producing it too, right?

Yeah.

I don’t know why you haven’t done more comedies before, because you obviously have a sense of humor.

Nobody in Hollywood thinks so though, obviously. That’s another nut for me to crack, because I have to convince them that I could do a comedy and I think, you know, they don’t see it right now. So 'Nappily' I’m doing for myself, and it’ll be a chance to show that side of.

Have you written anything recently?

I’ve written a couple of screenplays.

What are they about?

One is a comedy, because I’ve been realizing that I need to write one for myself, because it may be the only way I get one, and I wrote that. One is a thriller, and the other one is only half done. That was like a little wacky movie about – it’s just a character piece – it’s really a short.

Who do you play in 'Nappily Ever After' exactly?

I play this woman Venus. The movie, it’s all about a woman – the relationship that women have with their hair and how hair throughout history has defined us and how we’re in such bondage, you know, and everything is, 'If my hair’s not right, then we’re not right.' So my character, at the beginning of the movie, something is done to her and her hair starts to fall out. So she decides one night after being drunk trying to deal with the fact that their hair is dragged up, and she decides to shave her hair completely bald.

And now she has to face, you know, the next morning with no hair and how her whole life and everybody around her is now different and behaves differently because she was this beautiful goddess with this long hair and now she’s bald and how she’s different now. And she’s forced to look at what beauty really is and it comes from inside obviously, not from the outside. But it’s a hard lesson for us to get and this movie will sort of expose that and help us sort of come to terms and may be every time we hear thunder, we won’t go running for cover.

So does she go and get wigs?

She tries lots of funny things to deal with it, put it that way.

Did you have a lot of input on your wardrobe in this movie?

Yes, but we did have an amazing costume designer, Renee Kalfus. But I needed the – you know, on many movies for me, if I put on a certain piece of clothing then I feel like the character. You know, I remember in Monster’s Ball when I had those flip-flops on, I was Leticia Musgrove. I had to have the flip-flops. And so there’s always one or two things that hones it in for me and this movie, there was the clothes. Every character that I played within the one character had a piece of clothing that when I had it, I knew okay, now I’m this character.

Did you keep them?

I did keep the clothes, yeah. I can’t even wear them again but I have them.

Aren’t you about to shoot something with your 'Monster’s Ball' co-star Billy Bob Thornton?

There’s a movie called 'Tulia', about Tulia Texas , and we’re talking with him. He might if there’s a schedule conflict possibly, but if he can work it out, yeah we’ll be working together again.

You had a great chemistry with Bruce.

Well, it’s hard not to have chemistry with Bruce because he’s a ladies’ man, but he’s also a man’s man. You know, men like him. He represents that, you know, good ‘ol macho man’s man, and women find him irresistibly sexy, and he’s funny, he’s charming, he knows how to say all the right things that just make you feel like you’re the most important person on the planet. Like he’s got all that down. He knows how to do all of that. So really, it’s fun to be around Bruce.

Was there a different relationship that you had with Bruce than Giovanni?

Probably because of the nature of the characters that we all played and our connection to each other. You know, my relationship with Bruce was about seducing him so our banter in-between scenes was always very seductive and silly and sexy and you know, we just tried to stay in that mode where Giovanni and I, because he was like my guy Friday, you know we had a more cerebral conversations all the time and we talked about the computers a lot and you know, just different.

Have you got any charities or causes that you’re working with currently?

Yes, the Jenesse Centre. That’s my cause that I care most about and it’s a home that provides shelter for battered and abused women and children. And we’re in the process now of raising money to build what we call A Fake It Til You Make It center, where people in the community can go and get advice and get help, legal assistance and education and things that women need today to help empower themselves. So that’s really important what I’m doing now.

Got questions? Got comments? Send me a line at: quigles@joblo.com.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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