TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)
|Also Known As:||Halle Maria Berry||Died:|
|Born:||August 14, 1966||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Cleveland, Ohio, USA||Profession:||actor, producer, model|
Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY
As a former beauty queen and fashion model, Halle Berry surprised naysayers when she emerged as a multi-talented actress capable of turning in award-worthy performances. Berry made herself known in a small, but memorable role as a crackhead in Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever" (1991), though she was subsequently underused in "The Last Boy Scout" (1991) and "Boomerang" (1992). She turned in a finely crafted dramatic performance as a drug-addicted mother trying to regain custody of her son in "Losing Isaiah" (1995), while her role as a gutsy flight attendant in "Executive Decision" (1996) garnered positive reviews. With the trappings of fame, however, Berry was a constant source of public scrutiny, starting with her divorce from baseball star David Justice through her turbulent marriage to singer Eric Benet and later her nasty custody battle with ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry. Throughout her personal travails, Berry delivered a fine dramatic performance in "Bulworth" (1998), earned an Emmy for "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" (HBO, 1999), and won the Oscar for her brave turn in "Monster's Ball" (2001), becoming the first African-American to win Best Leading Actress. Though Berry's take on the comic book heroine...
As a former beauty queen and fashion model, Halle Berry surprised naysayers when she emerged as a multi-talented actress capable of turning in award-worthy performances. Berry made herself known in a small, but memorable role as a crackhead in Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever" (1991), though she was subsequently underused in "The Last Boy Scout" (1991) and "Boomerang" (1992). She turned in a finely crafted dramatic performance as a drug-addicted mother trying to regain custody of her son in "Losing Isaiah" (1995), while her role as a gutsy flight attendant in "Executive Decision" (1996) garnered positive reviews. With the trappings of fame, however, Berry was a constant source of public scrutiny, starting with her divorce from baseball star David Justice through her turbulent marriage to singer Eric Benet and later her nasty custody battle with ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry. Throughout her personal travails, Berry delivered a fine dramatic performance in "Bulworth" (1998), earned an Emmy for "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge" (HBO, 1999), and won the Oscar for her brave turn in "Monster's Ball" (2001), becoming the first African-American to win Best Leading Actress. Though Berry's take on the comic book heroine Storm in "X-Men" (2000) earned her blockbuster status, her leather-clad prancing as "Catwoman" (2004) earned her a certain ignominy. However, Berry continued working steadily, drawing praise for work in indies such as "Things We Lost in the Fire" (2004) while also headlining thrillers such as "Dark Tide" (2012) and continuing her work as Storm in the ongoing X-Men franchise. Her television work in the science fiction limited series "Extant" (CBS 2014-15) opened up a new avenue for her as well. Nonetheless, Berry had the rare ability to excel in both major tentpole movies and small indie dramas, making her one of the more sought-after actresses working in Hollywood.
Born on Aug. 14, 1966 in Cleveland, OH, Berry was raised by her African-American father, Jerome, a hospital attendant in the psychiatric ward, and her Caucasian mother, Judith, a psychiatric nurse. After her parents divorced when she was four, Berry grew up largely estranged from her absentee father, though he did return to the fold briefly in 1976. At Bedford High School, she was involved in many facets of student life, including cheerleading, editing the school newspaper and serving as president of the honor society. Berry was also elected prom queen, though some of her classmates - who were predominantly white - accused her of stuffing the ballot. A coin toss rectified the problem and Berry remained prom queen. She would later talk of her biracial background as painful and confusing throughout her youth, but that she made the decision early on to live life as a black woman because she knew that was how she would be perceived. After graduating in 1984, she won the Miss Teen Ohio Pageant and represented the state at the Miss Teen All-American Pageant. An overachiever since she was a child, Berry attempted to add another crown to her arsenal as Miss Ohio in the Miss USA competition, but unfortunately was named first runner-up instead. After finishing in the top five at the Miss World pageant, she moved into modeling, working first in the Chicago area and later in New York City.
Though she sought to continue her education by enrolling in Cuyahoga Community College, where she began studying broadcast journalism, Berry dropped out of school to pursue an acting career. In 1989, Berry hit pay dirt early on when she landed a regular role as a teenage model on the sitcom "Living Dolls" (ABC, 1989), but the show lasted a mere 12 episodes before getting canceled. Her subsequent guest work in other comedy series like "A Different World" (NBC, 1987-1993) followed before she was able to convince Spike Lee she could handle the demanding role of a crack addict in his racially complicated romantic drama, "Jungle Fever" (1991). Delivering a harrowing performance alongside then unknown Samuel L. Jackson, Berry proved that she was much more than a pretty face. But finding roles that challenged her considerable abilities was more of a challenge, as casting agents rarely considered her for meaty roles, due to her undeniable beauty. She was cast as a femme fatale in "Strictly Business" (1991) and Damon Wayans' stripper girlfriend in "The Last Boy Scout" (1991) before portraying a career woman who falls for Eddie Murphy in "Boomerang" (1992). Berry had better luck playing a headstrong post-Civil War woman in the titular role of "Queen," a CBS miniseries, based on Alex Haley's book about his grandmother's experiences.
Berry a landed the role of a sultry secretary in the live-action comedy "The Flintstones" (1994), winning the part after Sharon Stone turned it down. As a former drug addict struggling to regain custody of her son in "Losing Isaiah" (1995), Berry showed she could handle more serious fare, holding her own opposite powerhouse co-star Jessica Lange. Her hard-as-nails flight attendant was one of the few high points in the otherwise run-of-the-mill action thriller, "Executive Decision" (1996), a role that previously would have been given to Caucasian actresses. She once again broke through racial barriers as the spouse who finds herself framed for murder in "The Rich Man's Wife" (1996). Also that year, Berry's personal life took a surprisingly depressing turn when her marriage to former major league baseball player David Justice ended in divorce in 1997. So distraught over the break-up, which was spurred by their inability to be in one place together, Berry was prompted to take her own life, which she stated in a 2002 interview with The Telegraph.
Back on screen, she seemed miscast in the lead of the television miniseries "The Wedding" (ABC, 1998), which was set in the upper-middle class black milieu of Martha's Vineyard in the 1950s, but She fared better as an intelligent woman raised by activists who gives an older, slightly insane politician (Warren Beatty) a new lease on life in "Bulworth" (1998). She formed a close relationship with Beatty, who took her under his wing and gave her the confidence she needed to continue to be taken seriously as an actress. She next delivered as good performance as the singer Zola Taylor, one of the three wives of pop singer Frankie Lymon (Larenz Tate), in the unfortunately overlooked biopic, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" (1998). In 1999, Berry was able to realize her life-long dream of portraying the singer-actress who broke racial barriers by becoming the first black woman nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award in the HBO biopic "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge." Although both Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston had expressed a desire to play Dandridge, Berry managed to secure the role. Not only did she deliver a career-defining performance that netted her several awards, including an Emmy, but she also enhanced her Hollywood stature by serving as one the producers on the project.
The following year, Berry took sci-fi fans by Storm, so to speak, when she was cast as the beautiful mutant able to control the forces of nature in Bryan Singer's big screen version of the Marvel comic, "X-Men" (2000). Her success with the budding franchise was overshadowed when she was involved in a car accident on Sunset Boulevard with second husband, singer Eric Benet, and left the scene to go to the hospital for treatment, leading to a flurry of stories in the tabloid media. The actress pleaded no contest for leaving the scene of an accident and settled a civil lawsuit with the other vehicle's occupant out of court. In 2001, Berry was reduced to being nothing more than a decoration in the unspectacular John Travolta/Hugh Jackman thriller, "Swordfish," a fact made all the more clear when she appeared topless for the first time in her career. The gratuitous scene did little for the film's plot, but did manage to generate buzz, including unfounded rumors that she received a $500,000 bonus to do the scene. Later that year, she delivered a brutally honest and moving performance as a struggling waitress coping with a husband on death row and an overweight child in "Monster's Ball" (2001). Downplaying her looks and tearing into a rare challenging dramatic role, Berry earned critical plaudits for her work, which included a graphic, three minute-long love scene with co-star, Billy Bob Thornton.
Her performance in "Monster's Ball" generated substantial buzz and yielded some prizes from groups like the National Board of Review and the Screen Actors Guild. But most importantly, she made cinematic history by becoming the first black woman ever to earn an Academy Award for Best Actress. In her tearful acceptance speech, Berry said "This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It's for the women that stand beside me and for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door, tonight, has been opened." Enjoying her newfound prominence in the industry, Berry accepted the role of Jinx in the 20th James Bond feature, "Die Another Day" (2002) opposite Pierce Brosnan's 007. As the first A-list, Oscar-winning Bond girl in a generation, Berry was trumpeted in the role from the moment she began filming to the day the movie was released. She even gamely paid homage to the series' roots by appearing in a provocative tangerine bikini reminiscent of Ursula Andress' in "Dr. No" (1963). While her performance was not exactly Oscar bait, she did display a strong chemistry with Brosnan as his equal in both espionage and in bed, inspiring the studio to plan a spin-off with her character. The project, however, languished for years in development purgatory.
Berry next segued to "X2" (2003), the sequel to "X-Men" in which she reprised her role as Storm, a part that was expanded to suit her award-winning status and with a more becoming hairstyle. Nevertheless, rumors of friction between her and director Bryan Singer circulated, while Berry failed to participate in the massive press push for the blockbuster, putting her role in future sequels in question. Later that year, she starred in the horror thriller "Gothika" (2003), playing Miranda Gray, a doctor in a mental institute who becomes incarcerated in her own hospital after seemingly becoming possessed and murdering her husband. Berry provided a convincing and relatable presence in the stylish, but otherwise clichéd film. Meanwhile, she weathered another public split with a spouse, this time with Eric Benet. The split was in large part blamed on his alleged sex addiction and serial infidelity, with the heartbroken Berry publicly vowing to Oprah Winfrey never to marry again. Back on screen, she suffered further humiliation when she took on the role of Batman's popular comic book villainess/paramour "Catwoman" (2004). Berry portrayed the shy Patience Phillips, a repressed woman whose death grants her feline powers from a mystical cat in order to avenge herself. Although Berry's spectacular body, showcased in flesh-friendly skintight leather outfits, and her appropriately cat-like attitude as the whip-wielding Catwoman were appreciated, the film was otherwise a dismal loser all around, including Berry's inauthentic portrayal of meek Patience. So bad was the film and so unexpected was the Oscar winner's laugh-inducing performance, she was presented with a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress. Showing she had a sense of humor, Berry proudly accepted.
Berry returned to television when she appeared in the Oprah Winfrey-produced telepic, "Their Eyes Were Watching God" (ABC, 2005). In this adaptation of the popular Zora Neale Hurston novel, Berry played Janie Crawford, an iconoclastic, free-spirited woman whose unconventional mores regarding relationships upset her 1920s contemporaries in her small community. For her work in benefactor Winfrey's film, Berry received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie. Meanwhile, she lent her voice to Cappy, one of the many mechanical beings to inhabit the animated feature "Robots" (2005). She next revived Storm for the third installment of the series, "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006), this time directed less successfully by Brett Ratner. She followed by starring in the slick crime thriller "Perfect Stranger" (2007), playing an investigative reporter who poses as a temp at an advertising agency in order to unravel the murder of a friend connected to a powerful ad executive (Bruce Willis). That same year, Berry starred in the dark character drama, "Things We Lost in the Fire" (2007), in which she played a woman grieving over the loss of her husband (David Duchovny) who lets his best friend (Benicio Del Toro), a heroin addict, move into the family's home in order to get both of their lives back on track. In 2008, Berry's typically stormy personal life took a happy turn when she gave birth to her daughter, Nahla, whom she had with the equally gorgeous model Gabriel Aubry.
With the exception of hosting the historical documentary "For Love of Liberty: The Story of America's Black Patriots" (PBS, 2010), Berry remained, for the most part, out of the public eye and out of theaters while enjoying motherhood. That changed in a very big way when the actress reemerged as the star of the psychological drama "Frankie & Alice" (2010). As a young woman suffering from a scarred past and multiple personality disorder, Berry's virtuoso performance alongside actor Stellan Skarsgård earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Drama nearly a full week before the film officially opened. In stark contrast to the acclaim she was receiving for her work in "Frankie & Alice," was yet another well-documented romantic failure when she and Aubry announced their separation. Despite assertions that they would put their daughter's happiness first, Berry and her ex-boyfriend were destined for a lengthy custody battle after Aubry formally asked a Los Angeles court to recognize his paternity and grant him shared custody of the then two-year-old Nahla. Those predictions were confirmed after Berry immediately responded by informing the courts that she had serious concerns for her daughter's well-being if the child were to be left alone in Aubry's care for any extended period of time.
Tensions and accusations between Berry and Aubry escalated as the actress began dating handsome French actor Olivier Martinez in the spring of 2010 after the pair met on the set of her latest film. Despite time spent overseas with her new boyfriend and daughter, in April 2011 Berry announced that her custody issues with Aubry had been amicably resolved. At the end of the year, the actress was back in theaters as part of the all-star ensemble cast of the romantic comedy "New Year's Eve" (2011), the holiday-themed sequel to director Garry Marshall's 2010 box office hit, "Valentine's Day." Although the film failed to live up to the success of its predecessor, the actress' personal life continued to make news when, after months of speculation, Martinez confirmed his engagement to Berry in March 2012. Filmed in 2010, Berry's long-delayed "Dark Tide" (2012), the aquatic-thriller starring Berry as a troubled shark expert on a dangerous mission, was released with little fanfare on DVD, most notable for being the film on which she met her new fiancé.
Later in 2012, the ambitious literary adaptation "Cloud Atlas" saw the light of day, with Berry co-starring with Tom Hanks in numerous different roles. While the film met with mixed reviews and a muted reception, it did have its staunch supporters. Meanwhile, Berry's earlier truce with Aubry soon crumbled, however, after she announced her intention to move to Paris with Nahla and live with Martinez. The actress cited various reasons for the potential cross-continent move, including reported death threats made by a longtime stalker, continued harassment by paparazzi outside her home and Nahla's school, and Berry's ongoing concern for her daughter's safety during visits with her father. After being taken to Dependency Court by L.A. Child Protective Services, Aubry was questioned about his personal behavior and his ability to safely care for Nahla. He countered by asking for $20,000 a month in child support from Berry, though his position was dealt a blow when a court-ordered custody evaluation declared that Berry was the parent better suited to providing a safe environment for their daughter. Meanwhile, Berry was given her own blow when her request to move overseas was denied by the courts in early November 2012.
The setback lead to physical violence on Thanksgiving Day less than two weeks later, when Martinez and Aubry were involved in an altercation at Berry's home. Aubry appeared to have received the worst of it as Martinez repeatedly punched and kicked him in Berry's driveway after the father had dropped off his daughter for Thanksgiving dinner. Martinez placed Aubry under citizen's arrest and quickly received an emergency protective order that prevented him from coming within 100 yards of Berry and Nahla. After Aubry was taken into custody, he was granted his own restraining order against Martinez. In his filing, Aubry stated that Martinez threatened to kill him and included photos of him with numerous cuts and bruises on his face. The temporary order against Aubry was lifted on November 27, and he was set to appear in court later to hear whether or not a judge would grant his three-year order against Martinez. All the drama did not serve Berry well, as even her longtime fans questioned her motives for wanting her daughter's father removed from her life. Shortly thereafter, Berry and Aubry reached a custody agreement. In 2013, Berry starred in the tense thriller "The Call," which was a modest hit, and returned to the mutant fold, shooting the superhero sequel "X-Men: Days of Future Past" (2014). Her personal life also began to turn around, with her July marriage to Martinez followed by the birth of their son in October. Also during this period, Berry starred in the television series "Extant" (CBS 2014-15) as an astronaut who discovers that she's pregnant following an extended solo space mission.
Filmographyclose complete filmography
CAST: (feature film)
Milestones close milestones
She was named Halle (pronounced HAL-ee) after the Halle Brothers department store.
Her official Web site is at www.hallewood.com
Although now seemingly happily married to singer Eric Benet (as of 2001), Berry has not had good luck with her previous relationships. One former lover, a Chicago dentist, sued her because he claimed she owed him $80,000. Another struck her so hard she went partially deaf in her left ear, and she claimed her first husband, baseball player David Justice was unfaithful.
At the age of 22, Halle Berry was diagnosed with diabetes.
She told Movieline (December 2001/January 2002) that in 1995 she was the victim of a mugging in the parking garage of the Beverly Center.
On the fact that Berry is of both black and white parentage she has said: "I see people on talk shows who are mixed, and they seem very confused. Sure I got called 'zebra' and 'Oreo cookie' in school, every little kid gets teased ... But I think it's healthy to decide if you're one or the other, no one wants to be in the middle. That's why I decided early that I was black."---Berry quoted in USA Today, November 20, 1991.
"When I'm pushed to the limit, in life or in a movie, I'm like a cornered cat. I'll scratch your eyes out."---Berry quoted in Movieline, January-February 1994.
"I'm aware of a real double standard about how attractive women and men actors are seen to be as they age. When I'm in my 40s and 50s, I really see myself in a different lifestyle than making movies. I want to have a family. I'm hoping to get out of the movie business before gravity takes ahold of my face."---Halle Berry in Movieline, April 1995.
Berry has spoken candidly in interviews about how she contemplated killing herself in 1996 after her highly publicized divorce from baseball player David Justice.
"It's hard enough being an actress, but being a black actress ... Now I've played Dorothy Dandridge, so there's no other role for me to play."---Berry to The New York Times, August 15, 1999.
According to a Reuters report (March 1, 2000), on February 23, 2000, Berry was involved in an automobile accident from which she allegedly fled. She reportedly sustained a cut to the forehead which required between 15 and 20 stitches. Berry was later charged by authorities with leaving the scene of an accident. On May 10, 2000, Berry pleaded no contest and was placed on three years' probation and ordered to pay $14,000 in fines and penalties.
"Berry is nice, but she can't drive."---ex-neighbor Burt Kearns to People magazine, April 17, 2000.
"You know, I'm so up to here with that. It's like saying that only good things happen to pretty people. I've certainly had my fair share of the pits, and my looks haven't affected that one bit. I'm fighting all these silent battles. Being black, too, I find I'm sort of in a gray area. For Leticia [in "Monster's Ball"], I heard things like, 'Well, maybe she isn't quite black enough.' Sometimes I feel like a big freak."---Berry quoted in Time Out New York, December 27, 2001-January 3, 2002.
Although he was initially reluctant to cast her in "Monster's Ball", director Marc Forster told Premiere, December 2001 that he changed his mind after meeting Berry. "She was so open. I felt that I was meeting this person who is so raw, vulnerable, committed, passionate."
"I have many flaws. I can be very inconsistent with how I feel about things, which makes it hard to have relationships. I change with the wind. I hate that about myself. Sometimes I believe in religion, and two days later I'll say, 'I don't believe a thing about what the Bible says.' I justify it by thinking that I'm evolving. I want to be able to change my mind."---Berry to Lawrence Groble in "Glory, Glory, Halle-lujah" in Movieline. December 2001-January 2002.
"I'm not so good. I have a lot to learn. And I'm just trying to do it before I get too old. I'm racing the clock!"---Berry on acting, told Lawrence Grobel of Movieline, December 2001-January 2002.
On her decision to do nude scenes in movies, Berry explained to the Los Angeles Times (January 2, 2002): "I worked hard to be what people wanted. I used to be obsessed with wanting their approval, way back to my childhood. Particularly the black community. So many black people would approach me and say, 'My daughter aspires to be like you. Stay positive.' So I'd try to stay that way.
"I thought that if I did nudity, I'd let them down and send the wrong message to those girls. But then I realized it's not my job to raise those girls."
"Being the product of an interracial marriage, I've always known the racial divide is insane and ridiculous. This film speaks to the issue that people are racist because they are taught to be. Those attitudes are passed down without meaning. The sad part is that these people don't even understand why they believe what they believe. But in this film, those beliefs get challenged."---Halle Berry on "Monster's Ball" quoted in the Los Angeles Times, January 2, 2002.
"I was acting before that from a place of fear, worrying about what people thought of me. The experience of "[Introducing] Dorothy Dandridge" freed me from that. I got to relive her struggle, which was very much mine, and I thought, 'Okay, I can either keep going around and around making lateral moves and 50 years from now somebody will be telling my story and going, 'Well, Halle could have done this but she was too scared to go there,' or I can break the cycle and approach my career from a more courageous standpoint."---Berry to Entertainment Weekly, January 18, 2002.
"Oh, my God...Oh, my God. I'm sorry! This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorthy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It's for the women that stand beside me: Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox, and for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door, tonight, has been opened. Thank you!"---Berry after receiving a Best Actress Oscar Entertainment Weekly, December 20/27, 2002.
Berry was named one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People for 2004
"I've grown so much over the years. With age comes a certain wisdom and comfort level within your own self. Therefore I'm learning how to accept that as one of the real downers of this job that I love so much. I've just accepted it, and have really gotten to a place where I don't reel around about it like I used to. I used to go insane which I don't any more."---Barry on how she handles the excessive media attention to moviehole.net, November 6, 2003.
"... my career began playing a crack head in "Jungle Fever." I'm not afraid of portraying anything on-screen. Those are the most cathartic experiences if you want to know the truth. There is no pressure to be glamorous or be beautiful. If I got a pimple that morning or had bags under my eyes it's something I can use for the day on the film."---Berry on downplaying her looks in films to cinecon.com, November 19, 2003.
"... So after that great high, I hit one of the greatest lows I've ever experienced. I plummeted right back into the depths of this valley that I'm just now sort of resurfacing from."---Halle on finding out about her husband, Eric Benet's sex addiction only days after winning the Oscar to GQ, August, 2004.
Companions close complete companion listing
Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.Click here to contribute