We got to sit down with Halle Berry and chat with her about her new movie “Perfect Stranger,” her fashion sense and her previous desire to be a journalist. Check out what she had to say.
Q: Was this film always going to be in New York?
A: Yes. In our movie, it’s a character. It infuriates me when people go to Toronto and try to pass it off as New York. I always pride myself in knowing the difference.
Q: Was there talk of an alternative location?
A: Yes, there was. I was one of the main ones that was just livid, you know. If it’s going to be somewhere else then let’s set it in that city. We cannot go to Toronto. At one point, it was going to be shot in Louisiana. But we needed the character of New York City as a backdrop to help us along.
Q: Where did you find inspiration for your character? You’ve played some really awesome but different roles – with secrets and challenges. Did you look through other roles to find out for this character?
A: No. I just always want to challenge myself to do something different. In every character, one of the first acting secrets you learn is that every character should have a secret. And for me, every time I play a character, I always have secrets around her that I keep from the director – from the other guys. We use secrets a lot when we work. I never played a character this layered. Essentially, I played a character who played a character who played another character. And that seemed like a challenge.
Q: I read somewhere that you “love to play tortured characters.” Why is that?
A: I do. Because I think everyone is troubled, some more than others. We all came from imperfect childhoods and families. I don’t know anyone that’s had the perfect relationship or hasn’t had to overcome certain obstacles. I like to play someone who is troubled, who has obstacles and a will to fight to win and survive and not be victims. I love those kind of people in real life. I love watching those characters, playing those characters … they really reflect most people.
Q: Being that you are an icon of fashion and style, did you have a lot of say in what each of your characters wore?
A: We had a great costume designer, and she knew early on that in order to create these characters well, what I wore would be really important for me and for the audience. It was important also for me to feel it. I always knew that if I ever got confused, I would look down – ‘OK, what do I have on?’ When I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t sit down, I knew I was Katherine Poe.
Q: Does it make you self-conscious that so many people pay attention to your style and looks? Does it get to you, or do you find it a big compliment?
A: I try not to worry about it. For everyone that loves something there’s another one that doesn’t like it. I try not to really focus on it and stay myself, do my own thing. That’s all you can do really.
Q: You’ve made great strides for women and minorities. Does that affect how you choose your roles? Do you choose them differently or more carefully now?
A: I decided that I did not want to sit myself out of my career, so I decided not to choose them any differently. I think what can happen when you win ‘that thing’ is that people want to put you on a pedestal, and they expect more of you – more than what is reasonable. If we had the ability to produce Oscar-winning work every time, we would. It’s just, how do you know what that is? I certainly didn’t think it was going to be “Monster’s Ball.” Many people told me, ‘you’re not going to work again. You just did ‘Dorothy Dandridge,’ you’ve gotten all these accolades, and now you are going to do a low-budget movie for no money AND be naked. You’re an idiot!’ I wanted to risk it. So I’ve tried to keep that same spirit about myself and do what I want to do.
Q: In this role, being a journalist, would you ever want to do something else in life other than be an actress?
A: I wanted to be a journalist. This is true. That’s what I thought I was going to college for, and that’s what I was going to study and do.
Q: So what made you decide not to?
A: I realized I wasn’t good at it … basically.
Q: Is there any advice you would give college-age girls on how to make it in this world?
A: I would say dare to be who you really are. As a woman of color, I’ve had to fight to find a way and a place for a woman like me. When I started 20 years ago, there was no way. Dare to go your own way and be your own self. Don’t compromise or make excuses for who you are. Embrace it. Don’t change for anybody.