last week I teased you with some news from an interview I did with Halle
Berry on Thursday, when she and Morris Chestnut were on a publicity tour for their upcoming movie The Call (co-starring
Abigail Breslin and Morris, who plays her cop boyfriend), confirming
that she will be returning as Storm in the next X-Men movie (…that is, she’s almost
certain that she’ll be in it)…
need to go into details about Halle and Morris. You know who they are and what
they’ve done, and though I didn’t have a lot of time with them, I was able to get
some interesting stuff from them, including Halle getting somewhat personal, even
admitting (for the first time, to my knowledge) that, if she had to do it all over
again, maybe the actor’s life wouldn’t be for her.
the complete interview in which they talk about their new film, and a few other things
as well, with practically no edits (except for a true story I told them about actor Sir Lawrence Olivier, to follow up on a point she made during our talk).
O.K. first things first, I have to ask both of you a question in regards to some
upcoming projects. Halle, are you coming back as Storm in the next X-Men film,
X-Men; Days of Future Past?
I think so, I think so. (laughs)
we’ll take that as a yes.
HALLE: Yes it all looks like yes.
does shooting start?
HALLE: In April.
soon? So you are doing it?
HALLE: I think so. There are still a few little minor details
that we’re still hashing out, but unless something drastically goes wrong I’m
sure I will. (nods)
Morris why now for a Best Man sequel after all this time?
not? It’s something that people have talked about throughout the years. Now as
good a time as any, right?
but it’s been like what 10 years since the first one.
MORRIS: It’s actually been about 14. Well I think what it is, is that
the studio does its research and they had a lot of people writing in saying
that they would love to see a sequel. So they go out and do surveys and crunch
the numbers and the numbers look good and they say it’s probably a good idea to
a good financial bet…
MORRIS: Well yeah, sometimes it is.
have a built in audience.
there’s a built in audience for sequel, so why not? You sound like you’re
against it. (laughs)
why never! I didn’t say that.
can be. (laughs) Everyone’s not going to be for it. I understand.
no. Why are you putting words in my mouth?
going to go see it. (laughs)
you! We have $18 right here. Do we have $36?
O.K. you’ve got it.
& MORRIS Wooooo! All right! We’ve got $36!!! (Applaud)
getting to The Call, you spend a lot of time talking to the kidnap victim (Breslin)
on the phone which is difficult for any actor since there’s really no one there
to have eye contact with and to relate to face to face. You basically have
someone off camera feeding you her lines. How difficult is it to get you into a
mindset as if there’s a real person in danger on the other end on the line?
that’s where the imagination of the actor comes in. I have to imagine what’s
happening But I did have, luckily for me, Abigail and I when it was my days to
shoot she would come in and be sitting in a room next door talking to me. So I
at least I had her real voice on the other end of the phone and not some reader
who would give it no energy. And I did the same for her and that helped a lot. But
I still had to create in my mind what was actually happening. So the horror of
what I didn’t know is what I used. I didn’t know. I couldn’t see. I had to
imagine what was happening.
you actually go to 911 centers and observe what they actually do and what the
environment is like?
HALLE: Oh yes, I spent hours doing that days with the people
listening to real life calls. They have a very intense training process that
they go through, really intense and the statistics are that 80% of the people
who go through training don’t graduate and don’t become operators.
too hard, too intense.
HALLE: You have to be very intelligent, you have to be able to
type at a record speed and you have to be able to spell because you have to
type in names of random streets. If someone calls you for help and tell you
where they are you don’t have time to ask: “Honey how do you spell that?” You
have to type it out and then this gets translated to the police or the fire department
or the ambulance. So you have to be able to spell, think on your feet and talk
to the person on the phone and instruct them to do what you want them to do,
then put them on hold and inform all these other people . So the person who can
do that and stay calm and always be thinking is a different kind of bird, that’s
a different kind of individual.
SERGIO: And Morris
what about you, you play a cop in the film so you hung out with cops?
we did several ride alongs for a couple of shifts prior to making the movie. It
was very eye opening. (laughs) Just understanding to see what’s it like to see
the world through their eyes being in a police car and seeing people look at you and automatically judge you. Some are
happy to see you and some aren’t so happy to see you. So if was definitely eye
opening to me.
makes me ask of you in Identity Thief you play this straight laced Fed agent,
the calm center of gravity in a crazy world. Didn’t you wish that during the
film that just once you could just cut up and go crazy and do some wacky comedy
stuff like the two leads in the film?
MORRIS: Funny you bring that up. There was a point when we were shooting
that we had done a couple of takes of a particular scene and the director said
to me: “Look next time I just want you to go for it. Go nuts.” So I
did. I did a lot if improvisation and had a lot of fun and everybody was
laughing and having a great time. But the scene got cut. And I asked them why
and they said well there was so much craziness going on in the film that they
needed me to be the center, the rock of sanity in the film. We can’t let everyone
be crazy in the film.
SERGIO: But don’t
you feel like you’re in a sort of straight jacket playing usually the rational,
logical type of guy?
MORRIS: Well I really don’t have those sort of tendencies to do
that. I’m already in straight jacket, so to speak. I don’t get in front of the camera
and say: “O.K. let me be ON! And be funny and humorous and comical”. My instincts
are to do more of what you saw.
are you ever satisfied when you see your work on the screen or is there
something in the back of your mind saying I could be better?
know, I think you can always do something better. My barometer is did I give
the best that I had to give on that particular day dealing with whatever circumstances
I came to work with. And if I’ve done that, then I’ve done my best. Could I do
always do something better? I think I can do everything better all the time because
nothing’s perfect. But I’m satisfied when I’ve known I’ve done my best. And on
some days I’m dealing with a lot. I have a personal life. I have other issues
that I’m dealing with. Some days I come to work with the weight of the world on
my shoulders and I have to go do my job. So when I’ve done my best in spite of everything
that I’m dealing with I’m happy. That’s a good day for me.
I always think I can do better as well. And it’s strange with me because even
when I’m on the set and I feel that I’m giving my all after I finished I say to
myself: “Could I have done this better?” immediately afterwards. Then
I’ll get mad and I’ll think about it all day. I’ll be thinking about Wednesday
on Thursday and thinking: “Man I wish I could back and do it again.”
And every time I see myself, every time I see myself, on the big screen, I wish
I had made different choices.
this point someone comes in to indicate how much time I have left)
gave you the finger? (laughs)
she gave me the finger. That’s the story of my entire sorry life, people giving
me the finger.
She gave you the finger. (laughs)
more than one, but I want to ask you a question I always like to ask. What to
do know now that you wish you had before you got into this business?
(long pause…) Well. I wish that I had really understood the toll that it would
take on my personal life. The invasion of my personal life that being an actor
would cause. I really would have thought twice, three times, about it had I
known 20 years ago that I wouldn’t be able to get gas in my car or take my
daughter to school without a band of people
following me. I’m not so sure I would have done this job.
you’re saying that If you had known that you would have not gone into the
HALLE: I’m not so sure I would have. If I had had a crystal ball
and I could see the frenzy today 20 years ago… I used to want to be a
journalist or be a nurse. I think I would have said: “You know what? I’m going to do
think the thing that I would have done differently is that I would have studied
a lot more, study the craft a lot more. Because you can read a ot and study to get
to a certain point but I wish had had a stronger foundation to do what I’m
me ask you last time we met was about 5 or 6 years ago, a few months before your
film Things We Lost in the Fire came out, and you were very open and honest, telling how hard you worked and auditioned and hustled to get that role and the
struggles of being an actress and especially black actress. So all these years
later, what’s the situation? Better, worse or still the same?
still a struggle, but I think being an actor is a struggle be you a man, a woman, black, white, whatever. It’s a tough
business. And it’s being tougher with reality TV and social media. It’s become
tougher in a different way for us to do what we do. So it’s tough. We have
definitely made headway as black women and black people, sure. But yeah, it’s
still a struggle. I still look for good scripts. A movie like this with roles
for two women to be empowered, they don’t come around often for me. I’m
searching and I’m searching and I have to start creating them for myself more.
But they’re not out there, they’re just not out there.
then the only answer is to just start creating your own projects.
HALLE: Yes, I have a production company that I have with my
manager and I’ve picked up that ball and thrown it out there. But I would like
to know that there movies like that that are being made. And I don’t want to
make them just for myself, but I want to see all my sisters make movies and
have their talent to be realized and to have them be fulfilled as artists. I
just don’t want to do it just for me. I wish we had more opportunities.
what’s it going to take?
HALLE: I don’t know, but if I did I would do that! (laughs) Oh,
you got the finger again! (laughs)
you. The story of my life.