Halle Berry goes for the gold (and silver) in EW's cover shoot portraits
In the Hot Seat
Halle Berry is pulling no punches for her new film Bruised. Ahead of the MMA drama's Nov. 24 release on Netflix, the Oscar winner posed for EW's September 2021 cover shoot in Boston over the summer. (Read her full cover story here.)
"It was important to me that we make all the characters fractured and broken," Berry says of her directorial debut. "Not making anybody bad or good but all shades of gray, all bruised in their way, and all fighting for their own kind of redemption and their own way of fighting to survive their circumstance."
Berry stars in Bruised as Jackie Justice, a disgraced MMA fighter grasping for one more shot in the ring. "When you're young we all get chances, they're a dime a dozen," she tells EW. "But when you're at a certain stage in life it becomes something more impactful and meaningful, right?"
Gold Dust Woman
The actress, who had already broken ribs on the set of 2019's John Wick 3, cracked two more on the first day of shooting Bruised, but chose to stay on course to preserve the movie's indie budget and tight production schedule: "The director in me said, 'I didn't come this far and work this hard to go home.'"
After becoming the first (and still only) Black woman to win a Best Actress Oscar, for 2001's Monster's Ball, Berry says, the job offers didn't pour in. When you have a historic win like that, you think, 'Oh, this is going to fundamentally change.' It did fundamentally change me, but it didn't change my place in the business overnight. I still had to go back to work. I still had to try to fight to make a way out of no way."
Acting, says the 54-year-old star, "isn't a hobby. It's how I take care of my children. But I try to keep that sense of wonder and stay curious. Because being a Black woman, I haven't always had parts that I absolutely love."
Into the Light
Now three decades into her career, Berry chooses to embrace even the so-called failures like 2004's Catwoman: ""For me," she insists, "it was one of the biggest paydays of my whole life, which, there's nothing wrong with that.... I don't want to feel like 'Oh, I can only do award-worthy stuff.' What is an award-worthy performance?"
Like a Boss
After years of speculation on her personal and professional choices, she says, "I can't keep allowing people to tell me the same story, the same version of who I am. I have evolved, I've moved on, I'm grown. Let me live!"
Berry's character Jackie Justice steps into the ring with her Bruised costar, real-life UFC Women's Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko.
For Love or Pizza
Berry's Justice, who is fighting to get back to her former glory in the ring, reconnects with her estranged 6-year-old son, Good Girls' Danny Boyd Jr.
Eye on the Prize
Berry, who spent five weeks in late 2019 shooting Bruised on location in Newark, N.J., pauses mid-scene to check the shot.
The Long Crawl
Already a veteran of intensive fitness regimes for movies like X-Men and John Wick 3, Berry found herself gaining a hard-earned six-pack in her fifties for Bruised's punishing training and fight scenes.
The Bold Shoulder
"I thought it was largely enough for one person to do, to take on this challenge of fighting and learning all these martial arts and playing that role," Berry admits, of taking the lead on both sides of the camera. "So I didn't think I would be directing myself in my debut, ever... Initially, I think it did sound crazy to everybody."
Into the Ring
When producers asked, "'Are you sure you want to do this?'" Berry recalls, "I said, 'I'm not sure, but I think I have to. Because I don't want to work as hard as I'm going to work as an actor and as a fighter and train and not have it in hands that see the story the way I see the story. It's too much work. I've got to spend the next year and a half of my life preparing for this. I just think I'm going to have to do it."
Put Me In, Coach
"I can't say it didn't take some convincing for the people around me," Berry says, of hiring Sheila Atim, a largely unknown 30-year-old British theater actress, as her trainer-turned-lover in the film. "But she just embodies the character. She has that effortless energy that commands your attention."
To read more on Halle Berry, order the September issue of Entertainment Weekly or find it on newsstands beginning Aug. 20. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.
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