Halle Berry bares her soul
By BRUCE KIRKLAND -- Sun Media
Flashing her bodacious bosoms in the thriller Swordfish was the best
thing she ever did in her career, Halle Berry said yesterday.
"Absolutely!" she told Sun Media in an interview yesterday. Berry was
on the Toronto stop of a multi-city publicity tour for Perfect
Stranger, a new erotic thriller set for an April release.
"You know, I did that gratuitous scene and I knew it was gratuitous.
And I did it because I needed to do it. I needed to face a fear."
In the 2001 film, the drop-dead gorgeous Berry sits in a bikini
bottom reading a book. As Hugh Jackman approaches, she drops the book
to reveal her orbs.
"That was one of the things that drew me toward it," Berry said. "It
gave me a chance to face this thing called nudity that I was afraid
"In my life, I'm okay with the naked body and I'm fine when other
people are nude. But I had to get over the hangup of, 'What will
people say about me, or what will they think about me, if I decide to
"So I did it just for that reason. To do it in a big, gratuitous
way: 'Let's see the tits and move on!'
"And I didn't know this, but somehow the universe was bringing that
to me because Monster's Ball was coming. And I never would have been
able to do that if I had not had this gratuitous little moment in the
movie right before."
In 2001's Monster's Ball, Berry brazenly went into risque territory
with Billy Bob Thornton. It is a raw, primal, racially charged film.
Her stunning performance earned Berry an Oscar, making her the first
of African heritage to win the best-actress prize.
Yet that Oscar never would have been hers if not for that silly scene
in Swordfish, Berry said yesterday. Otherwise, she would have turned
Marc Forster down on Monster's Ball.
"I would have been too inhibited, and I wouldn't have gone through
the media scrutiny. But I had just been through it: 'My tits are out!
We've talked about it!' So I felt safe going even further, and I
thought that role called for it and I thought it was justified and it
was not gratuitous.
"So now I approach roles and I'm no longer afraid of nudity, if a
role calls for it. I'm not afraid of nudity. It just didn't come up
in this movie (Perfect Stranger)."
The Cleveland-born Berry, a former beauty queen, is now 40. She still
has the translucent skin of a teenager yet the regal bearing of a
woman. So she is a Hollywood dream doll.
In Perfect Stranger, director James Foley plays with that image by
layering in complexity. Berry plays a New York celebrity journalist
who tries to disgrace rich, powerful men who stray.
On screen, Berry teases. You see her naked in a shower -- but the
steam obscures her body. You see her half-naked getting dressed --
but only from the back. You see her vamping Giovanni Robisi, Gary
Dourdan and Bruce Willis.
It's all about eroticism, not the sex act, Berry said. "It's not
seeing the act, it is fantasizing about it, right?"
So Perfect Stranger is an erotic thriller without explicit sex
scenes. "To have sex would have been attacking the intelligence of
audiences today," Berry said. "They don't need that."
But her character uses the tease to manipulate men, Berry said.
"And that's fun: To have a character who encompasses that side of who
we are as women. To be in touch with your sexuality. And to be a
woman who knows the effect of her sexuality on the male species. And
makes no excuses for it!"
Hey, nobody's purr-fect, and Halle can admit it
Halle Berry knows how to laugh at herself -- even when the wolves are
out and trying to tear her to pieces.
That's why she showed up at the 2005 Razzie Awards to accept the
abuse for the now legendary Catwoman, a fiasco that earned her the
dubious distinction as worst actress of 2004.
"I loved Catwoman!" Berry said with a laugh yesterday in Toronto. So
she makes no apologies now for donning her leathers and prowling the
"You have to take risks," she said. "But I have to say: Going there
(to the Razzies) and putting that to bed, and taking responsiblity
and taking the criticism and laughing at myself, was the most
empowering things for me to do.
"And the applause I got for showing up there was as thunderous and as
meaningful as in any place I'd ever shown up at before."
That includes the 2002 Oscars, when she was named best actress for
2001's Monster's Ball.
"I felt that I was there for a good reason," Berry said of "getting"
the tongue-in-cheek tone of the Razzies, which send up Hollywood.
"It was actually a good thing and I thought I was going to start a
trend of actors showing up. But I guess not. (Sharon Stone did not
bother going this year.) Yet it is a cool thing to do!"
Nora Jane Noone
When first sighted in The Magdalene Sisters, Nora-Jane Noone burns up
the screen: Cheeks flushed, eyes ablaze, finger in her half-smiling
mouth, she is sexual catnip to the boys ogling her.
"Actually, that was my first day on the set," the 19-year-old
confesses, "and I had my finger in my mouth because I was biting my
nails, I was so nervous." Despite having no professional credits,
Noone snagged the role of the feisty Bernadette at an audition in her
hometown of Galway, Ireland, when director Peter Mullan recognized
her emotional range. The fact-based film about Ireland's Magdalene
laundries--virtual prisons sponsored by the Catholic church,
where "dishonored" women toiled to atone for their "sins"--went on to
capture the Golden Lion at last year's Venice Film Festival, and
denunciation by clerics.
To tap into Bernadette's fury, Noone evoked injustices from her
past, "when I would have really liked to let rip." She also agreed to
do a nude scene to convey the full horror of the Magdalenes. "My
family was very supportive. My-mother said, 'If you can't show your
body when you're young, when can you?"' Raised a Catholic, Noone
never felt she was betraying her own: "The film is really about the
abuse of power and the degrading treatment of women. If I didn't do
it, I'd be kickin' myself."