Halle Berry is gearing up for a milestone moment at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival thanks to the world premiere of her feature directorial debut, “Bruised.” Ahead of the movie’s screening, the Oscar-winning actress sat down with Variety for a cover story that touches upon some of the most defining moments of her career, from her blockbuster turn as Storm in the “X-Men” franchise to her never-launched James Bond spinoff movie and the notorious “Catwoman.” Berry is at her most frank when discussing her historic Oscar win for “Monster’s Ball,” in which she became the first and only Black woman to win Best Actress.
“I thought, ‘Oh, all these great scripts are going to come my way; these great directors are going to be banging on my door,’” Berry said about her post-Oscar career. “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.”
Why did Berry’s career not take off following her Oscar win? “I think it’s largely because there was no place for someone like me,” she said, while also noting that she doesn’t understand how she remains the only Black performer to win the Academy Award for Best Actress.
“I thought Cynthia [Erivo, the star of ‘Harriet’] was going to do it last year,” Berry said. “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 added about her Oscar win, “It’s one of my biggest heartbreaks. 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. Just because I won an award doesn’t mean that, magically, the next day, there was a place for me. I was just continuing to forge a way out of no way.”
The one sizable role that came calling after her Oscar win was Jinx in the Pierce Brosnan Bond movie “Die Another Day.” Berry’s character proved to be such a fan favorite that Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson started planning for Berry to get her own Jinx spinoff movie, but the project was stalled because studio MGM refused to drop an $80 million budget on the movie.
“It was very disappointing,” Berry said about losing the Jinx movie. “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.”
The failed Bond spinoff is part of the reason Berry was drawn to “Catwoman,” which would become one of the most derided comic book films ever made. As Berry recalled, “People said to me, ‘You can’t do that. You’ve just won the Oscar.’ 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?’”
Throughout it all, Berry remained a key player in Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” franchise as Storm. The actress debuted as the character in 2000 and reprised the role in 2003’s “X2: X-Men United,” 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand,” and 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” Reports of set tension between the cast and Singer have emerged over the years, with one argument rumored to end with Berry telling the director, “You can kiss my Black ass.”
“Bryan’s not the easiest dude to work with,” Berry told Variety. “I mean, everybody’s heard the stories — I don’t have to repeat them — and heard of his challenges, and what he struggles with…Sometimes, because of whatever he’s struggling with, he just didn’t always feel present. 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 continued, “I would sometimes be very angry with him. 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.”
Head over to Variety’s website to read Berry’s cover story in its entirety. “Bruised” debuts at TIFF on September 12.