Thursday, September 17, 2020

Halle Berry Confirms Romance With Musician Van Hunt

After teasing that there was new romance in her life, Halle Berry, who will next be seen in 'Bruised', confirmed that she is dating Grammy Award-winning musician Van Hunt today by donning one of his shirts and captioning it "Now Ya Know". Happy for my Queen!

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Halle Berry On Directing: I Was "Scared Sh*tless"

Most actors turned directors start by directing an episode of a television sitcom or drama, but Halle Berry pushes forward and takes on the daunting task of making an emotional drama with fight scenes for her directorial debut 'Bruised', which premieres tonight at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In her virtual interview for the event, the actress open up about being scared to direct the project and what got her through. Read more details below:
The Hollywood Reporter: Oscar winner Halle Berry says her directorial debut, Bruised, left her filled with anxiety on set.

"I was scared shitless. And if you're not having any sense of worry, I don't think you care, I don't think you want to do your best," Berry said while appearing remotely at the Toronto Film Festival to tout the world premiere of her mixed martial arts drama.

What did give Berry assurance, however, while directing Bruised was her ability to talk to actors. "While I worked on movies for 30 years, I wasn't behind the camera, but I trusted that I'd be able to do that," she added.

As Berry looked back over her career during a master class at TIFF, she said she followed up an early modelling career and became an actress to tell stories. "Not unlike most young girls, I had hardship growing up. I grew up in an environment where I didn't always fit in. But I knew I was full of substance and full of stories to tell. And I knew that I had to somehow find a way to sort of get other people outside of seeing me in this shell," she told TIFF online viewers.

In Bruised, Berry plays a disgraced MMA fighter, Jackie "Justice," who has to conquer her own demons and face one of the fiercest rising stars of the MMA world to become the mother that she thinks her son Manny deserves. That role isn't the first dark horse character that Berry has played during her Hollywood career, which includes her Oscar-winning role of Leticia Musgrove, a dirt-poor widow, in Monster's Ball.

"You know I'm always most drawn to characters who are fractured, broken, who are fighting to survive. Every time I get to play those roles, I get to have a cathartic experience and I get to have some healing for myself," Berry explained.

Despite the cachet an Academy Award trophy brought to her Hollywood career, Berry says there's sadness in not seeing other Black women follow her and win the industry's biggest best actress prize. "Every time when Oscar time comes round, I get reflective and I think maybe this year, maybe this year, and it's heartbreaking that other women haven't stood there," she revealed.

Though she helmed Bruised, Berry and her film's producers didn't initially see her in the director's chair. But that changed after she talked to prospective directors and didn't see anyone more fitted than her to her to bring the script to the screen.

"I'd been thinking about directing, but I thought this was too big of a role, and star in this big role," she recounted. But after the encouragement of a friend and sleeping on the decision, Berry decided to put herself forward as the Bruised director.

"Once I embraced that concept, I had to go to the producers and pitch myself as the director. And to my surprise, they said yes," she recalled.

On the eve of her world premiere, Netflix acquired Bruised, which Berry credits in large part to the buzz which came to the project after TIFF picked up her directorial debut for its official lineup. "I can't stress enough, the importance of festivals, and especially this festival," Berry said. The Toronto Film Festival continues through Sept. 19.

Halle Berry's 'Bruised' Nearing Massive Netflix Deal

Knockout! All of Halle Berry's hard work on 'Bruised' is coming to fruition as it was revealed yesterday evening (September 11th) that Netflix is nearing a deal to acquire the worldwide rights to the project for almost $20 Million. Read more details of the acquisition below:

EXCLUSIVE: Netflix is getting the Toronto International Film Festival off to a strong start with a figurative and literal punch in the face. Deadline hears the streamer is firming an 8-figure sum for world rights to Bruised, the mixed martial arts drama that marks the directorial debut of Halle Berry.

It’s the first major deal on the (virtual) ground at TIFF. Netflix got a preemptive look at the film — which is premiering at Toronto as a work in progress — and took it off the table before its virtual premiere Saturday. When all done, deal will be high-teens, not far from $20 million, sources said. Endeavor Content and Netflix are closing it up right now.

Berry, who stars with Adan Canto, Stephen McKinley Henderson and Sheila Atim, plays Jackie Justice. She is a disgraced MMA fighter who has failed at the one thing she’s ever been good at – fighting. When 6-year-old Manny, the son she walked out on years ago, returns to her doorstep, Jackie has to conquer her own demons, face one of the fiercest rising stars of the MMA world, and ultimately fight to become the mother the boy deserves. The film is a Rocky-esque story of redemption, of a woman’s grueling MMA training in New Jersey to get into the kind of shape necessary to battle much younger opponents. Berry has done well in action turns in films from X-Men to John Wick and James Bond and the Oscar-winning actress is all in on this one. Anderson plays an encouraging MMA league owner and Atim turns in a performance to watch, as the MMA trainer who helps Justice get into fighting shape.

Script was written by Michelle Rosenfarb, and the film was produced by Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee, Brad Feinstein, Guymon Casady, Terry Dougas, Linda Gottlieb, Gillian Hormel, and Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Halle Berry Takes Hold Of Director's Chair With 'Variety'

Halle Berry plays cover girl for the new issue of Variety, where she discusses some of her career failures ('Catwoman', Jinx spinoff), why being the only black Lead Actress Oscar winner breaks her heart and how she found her way to the director's chair for 'Bruised'.

When Berry got hurt on “Bruised,” after taking a knee to the chest from co-star Valentina Shevchenko, she wasn’t surprised. But this time, the stakes felt momentous. “Bruised,” which premieres at the Toronto Film Festival this week, is also her directorial debut. The magnitude of the opportunity wasn’t lost on her, as a woman and a Black artist in an industry where the odds of directing a movie are slim if you’re not a white man. To make sure she was ready each day, she’d wake up at 5 a.m., and she couldn’t let the pain from broken ribs slow her down.

“I didn’t want to stop because I had prepared for so long,” Berry says. “We had rehearsed; we were ready. So my mind, my director’s mind, was just — keep going. And I compartmentalized that, and I just kept going: ‘I’m not going to stop. I’ve come too far. I’m going to act as if this isn’t hurting. I’m going to will myself through it.’ And so we did.”

In many ways, that’s been Halle Berry’s story. She’s refused to stop, despite the hurt — rejections from roles that could have been hers, pursuing scripts that were written for white actors (including “Bruised”) — even after she’d torn down barriers. For her Variety cover story, Berry didn’t flash a movie star smile during a socially distanced photo shoot in Los Angeles. “I do feel at risk,” she says, referring to her diabetes. “I’m very strict about quarantining and who is in my bubble. We have a whole section of the house: When you go out in the world and buy something, it has to sit in this purgatory.”

Berry, who has frequently been in the tabloids following her public breakups (she’s currently representing herself in her divorce from actor Olivier Martinez), didn’t volunteer any details about her personal life or talk about her two kids during a 90-minute interview. She wanted to discuss her career, including the heartbreak that her historic 2002 Oscar win didn’t lead to change, fights with Bryan Singer during the “X-Men” franchise and her long journey to the director’s chair.

“I definitely feel like there’s a turning point,” Berry says about the forward movement for women directors. “I’m more encouraged that as women, we are feeling confident enough to tell our stories. And there is a place for us to tell our stories. For so long, our experiences have been told narratively through the guise of men.”

Berry discovered acting in the years post-college, after contemplating a career as an investigative journalist. Her first part was on “Living Dolls,” in which she played Emily, the lone Black character on the 1989 ABC sitcom about a sorority of teenage models. “I had a job, but I didn’t have a real part or purpose on that show,” Berry says. “I was very much the token Black person that didn’t have a storyline that was very compelling or meant much. I was the character that started every scene with ‘Hey, guys!’ and ended everything with ‘Come on, let’s go.’ Today, that wouldn’t happen, when you look at the landscape of television about the Black experience.”

Movies proved more welcoming. Berry made an indelible mark on the big screen in 1991’s “Jungle Fever,” in which she pitched herself to director Spike Lee for the role of a “crack ho” instead of the “pretty wife.” Throughout the ’90s, she worked steadily, portraying everything from the villain in the live-action “The Flintstones” to an activist in Warren Beatty’s political satire “Bulworth.” She landed an Emmy for the 1999 HBO film “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” written by a then-unknown Shonda Rhimes, and earned international box office stardom as Storm in 2000’s “X-Men” and in three sequels.

But “Monster’s Ball” was an even bigger peak in her career. In 2002, for her performance as a waitress consumed by grief in the indie drama, Berry became the first (and still only) Black woman to win the best actress Oscar. That same year, she starred as the seductive spy Jinx in “Die Another Day,” the 20th James Bond film, which grossed more than $400 million globally.

And then — nothing. Big directors such as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese never came calling. Hollywood seemed to revel in her failure with 2004’s “Catwoman,” a cheesy flop about the comic book villain, which swept the Razzie Awards. More recently, Berry has popped up in popcorn action movies such as 2013’s “The Call” and 2017’s “Kidnap.” Through it all, she says, she’s never stopped fighting for roles.

“I think it’s largely because there was no place for someone like me,” says Berry, who has been encouraged by the recent discourse about inclusivity in the industry. “I thought, ‘Oh, all these great scripts are going to come my way; these great directors are going to be banging on my door.’ It didn’t happen. It actually got a little harder. They call it the Oscar curse. You’re expected to turn in award-worthy performances.”

In her Academy Awards speech, Berry — through tears — said that she’d opened a door for “every nameless, faceless woman of color” watching at home. Two decades later, she can’t fathom the reality that not a single leading Black woman has followed. “I thought Cynthia [Erivo, the star of ‘Harriet’] was going to do it last year,” Berry says. “I thought Ruth [Negga, nominated for 2016’s ‘Loving’] had a really good shot at it too. I thought there were women that rightfully, arguably, could have, should have. I hoped they would have, but why it hasn’t gone that way, I don’t have the answer.”

Berry is still conflicted about what her Oscar win represents. “It’s one of my biggest heartbreaks,” she says. “The morning after, I thought, ‘Wow, I was chosen to open a door.’ And then, to have no one … I question, ‘Was that an important moment, or was it just an important moment for me?’ I wanted to believe it was so much bigger than me. It felt so much bigger than me, mainly because I knew others should have been there before me and they weren’t.”

In retrospect, Berry says it was naive to think a statue would change anything. “Just because I won an award doesn’t mean that, magically, the next day, there was a place for me,” she says. “I was just continuing to forge a way out of no way.” She likens it to how Dorothy Dandridge must have felt at the 1955 Academy Awards, as the first Black actor nominated for a lead role, who then went back to being an outsider in Hollywood.

After the success of “Die Another Day,” “Bond” producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson lobbied for Jinx to get her own spinoff, an idea that thrilled Berry. But MGM balked at the $80 million price tag. “It was very disappointing,” Berry says. “It was ahead of its time. Nobody was ready to sink that kind of money into a Black female action star. They just weren’t sure of its value. That’s where we were then.”

Instead, she decided to portray Catwoman, thinking that it was a risk that could pay off — and change the kinds of roles offered to Black actors. “People said to me, ‘You can’t do that. You’ve just won the Oscar,’” Berry says. “Because I didn’t do Jinx, I thought, ‘This is a great chance for a woman of color to be a superhero. Why wouldn’t I try this?’”

But she quickly noticed warning signs. “The story didn’t feel quite right,” she says about a dubious plot that involved a villain (played by Sharon Stone) with a cosmetics empire. “I remember having that argument: ‘Why can’t Catwoman save the world like Batman and Superman do? Why is she just saving women from a face cream that cracks their face off?’ But I was just the actor for hire. I wasn’t the director. I had very little say over that.”

When Berry first read the script for “Bruised,” she felt a strong connection to the character, an MMA fighter named Jackie Justice who returns to the cage when everyone has counted her out. Berry had been training for three years in mixed martial arts. To perform some of her stunts on “John Wick,” she’d immersed herself in jujitsu, judo, taekwondo and kickboxing — and she saw herself in the character of Jackie. But she had to be patient. Another director, Nick Cassavetes, was attached to make the movie with Blake Lively as the star.

“I’m tortured, because now I can’t let it go,” Berry says of the waiting period. “I’ve been thinking of how I can reimagine it for someone like me, a Black woman in middle age — not starting life — who’s looking for a last chance, not another chance. I’m stuck on it.”

Six months later, when the script became available, Berry pitched herself as the lead to the producers — including Basil Iwanyk of Thunder Road Films, who made “John Wick” and “Sicario.” “Why not a Black woman?” Berry remembers thinking. “It’s an old genre; there’s so many great fight films that have been made. I made the point why it would be worth retelling an age-old story with this new twist.”

She convinced the movie’s creative team, but they needed a director. Berry met with seven candidates. But she came away from all of those conversations feeling dissatisfied — nobody saw her vision of the film.

Finally, her producing partner, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas (“Hustlers”) came up with an idea: Berry should direct the movie herself. “I remember listening to her feedback from one of her meetings,” Goldsmith-Thomas says. “I just said, ‘This is nuts. You’re waiting for someone to tell you the things you know. You understand the evolution of redemption. Why the f— aren’t you standing in your own truth?’”

Directing was something that Berry had always thought about, having spent 30 years on movie sets, quietly observing — “watching and learning and absorbing” — how everyone from Lee to Beatty framed a scene. But when she’d had conversations about directing before, they’d been in the abstract. Now she had to sell herself as the first-time director of a real script. “I thought, ‘They’re going to think I’m high,’” Berry says. “They’re going to think, ‘Halle has lost her mind.’”

But instead, they hired her. For Berry, directing felt like a career rebirth. She threw herself into every aspect of production, from script revisions to cinematography. “It’s not just being a dancing bear,” Berry says. “I can project what I want to say.” She found the director’s chair far more empowering than being an actor. “As an actor, I always show up and do my part, and I can only do what I can do,” she says. “Being the director, I have a part in the totality of every department. I get to have a voice. That was different, and I really loved that.”

When she learned that “Bruised” would be playing in Toronto, Berry screamed in celebration — she’d submitted a “work-in-progress” cut of the film, not knowing COVID-19 would restrict international travel. “I’m hearing they’re going to send out screeners, but I’m thinking, ‘That’s piracy waiting to happen,’” Berry says before conceding that the details will be ironed out. In a follow-up email, she clarifies that “Bruised,” which is seeking distribution, won’t be doing virtual screenings. It will premiere on Sept. 12 in Toronto before a live audience.

“I’m hopeful that whatever partner comes along, they’ll support my vision and we’ll work together to bring a fully finished film to the mass public at the right time,” Berry writes. “That said, I’m extremely excited, and nervous and elated (and feeling all of the feels), for the first Toronto audience to see it.”

On YouTube, Berry’s Oscar acceptance speech has been viewed more than 5 million times. It’s still as inspiring today as it was in 2002 to watch presenter Russell Crowe open the envelope and read her name. Berry looks shocked — for the record, she says, that wasn’t a performance. Berry didn’t expect to win that night, and she hadn’t even written a speech. “The only thing I remember,” she says, “is somehow I was up on the stage, and I remember Russell whispering in my ear, ‘Breathe, mate. Breathe.’ Then I remember I turned around and saw all the faces and started talking.”

One of Berry’s professional hurdles has been to convince directors to look past her beauty. “That is a blessing and a curse,” she says. “People always wanting to see my physical self first, and then some will argue, ‘That’s what got you in the door.’ But even if that got me in the door, I’ve had to fight that image of being stereotyped, fight to be seen as an artist.”

On “Monster’s Ball,” even after she was cast, members of her team cautioned her about playing a character who has sex with a racist corrections officer (Billy Bob Thornton). They thought it could damage her image.

“It was a little movie,” Berry says. “And it had this love scene that, I guess, was explicit in the minds of some people. And I was getting paid nothing. They thought if you’re going to do something like that, get a s—load of money. But that’s not why I’m doing it. I didn’t feel it was exploitative. It was necessary for the character.”

A few years ago, Berry retired one of her most well-known performances, as Storm, in 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” Since then, the film’s director, Singer, has been accused of sexual assault by at least four men who say they were underage at the time (which he denies); he also was fired mid-shoot from 2018’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” for allegedly not showing up to work (which he also denies).

When asked about her experiences with Singer, Berry answers the question with ellipses. “Bryan’s not the easiest dude to work with,” she says. “I mean, everybody’s heard the stories — I don’t have to repeat them — and heard of his challenges, and what he struggles with.

“I would sometimes be very angry with him,” she continues. “I got into a few fights with him, said a few cuss words out of sheer frustration. When I work, I’m serious about that. And when that gets compromised, I get a little nutty. But at the same time, I have a lot of compassion for people who are struggling with whatever they’re struggling with, and Bryan struggles.” (Singer, through his publicist, declined to comment.)

“Sometimes, because of whatever he’s struggling with, he just didn’t always feel present,” Berry says. “He didn’t feel there. And we’re outside in our little ‘X-Men’ stage freezing our ass off in Banff, Canada, with subzero weather and he’s not focusing. And we’re freezing. You might get a little mad.”

Berry has been inspired by the #MeToo movement. “Clearly, things need to change,” she says. “And what we as women were acquiescing to, and were allowing needs to change. And it needed to get blown up. And people needed to be outed.”

It’s too early to say when she’ll direct again, but she’d like to. As she was editing “Bruised,” she showed a version to Spike Lee, the first director who ever hired her to be in a film. “Holy s—,” he told her. “You made a movie.”

Halle Berry To Keynote 2020 Toronto Film Festival

With her directorial debut 'Bruised' scheduled to premiere at the 2020 Toronto Film Festival, Halle Berry will also participate in a candid conversation entitled 'In Conversation with Halle Berry', which will happen virtually on Friday, September 11th.

Halle Berry is set to take part in a candid conversation as part of the Toronto Film Festival's In Conversation With... series, organizers said Monday.

On Sept. 11, the Oscar winner will appear virtually as Berry discusses her feature directorial debut, the MMA drama Bruised, which will have a world premiere in Toronto. Berry will also star in the feature as a disgraced MMA fighter, Jackie "Justice."

Toronto organizers also announced that Canadian documentary and TV drama director Tracey Deer will receive the TIFF Emerging Talent Award, presented by L'Oréal Paris and supported by MGM, at the 2020 TIFF Tribute Awards on Sept. 15. Deer is bringing her debut narrative feature, Beans, to Toronto for a world premiere.

Ahead of TIFF, sales outfit WaZabi Films picked up the world rights, excluding Canada, to Deer’s Beans, about a Mohawk girl on the cusp of adolescence who must grow up fast and become her own kind of warrior during an armed stand-off known as the 1990 Oka Crisis.

And the Toronto fest named as its 2020 TIFF Rising Stars Sheila Atim (Bruised), Rainbow Dickerson (Beans), Tanya Maniktala (A Suitable Boy) and Madeleine Sims-Fewer (Violation).

Earlier, Toronto tapped Kate Winslet, Anthony Hopkins and directors Chloe Zhao and Mira Nair for tributes at its upcoming 20th edition. TIFF's online plans also include industry conference sessions, networking events and digital showcases of film titles by national cinema agencies.

Planning for a first-time online industry conference follows the physical edition of the Toronto Film Festival, set to run Sept. 10 to 19, being sharply reduced in size and scope due to the coronavirus pandemic.

TIFF plans to screen around 50 film titles during its first five days in physical theaters, and at drive-in and outdoor cinema venues. Toronto will also host virtual red carpets, press conferences and industry events amid the COVID-19 outbreak.