The Perfect Stranger
WATCH "Perfect Stranger" TRAILER
Wild About Movies: What made the role in "Perfect Stranger" so appealing that you had to take it?
Halle Berry: "I love a character that gives me a chance to grow and do something different, and ‘Row’ was so multifaceted, you know? I never played a character who played a character who played a character and that gave me a chance as an artist to sort of stretch my limits and to challenge myself. When I read the movie and I got to the end, I thought, ‘Wow, I don’t know how I’m going to pull this off [or] if I can, but I’m going to go down trying,’ because that’s how impassioned I was about it."
Wild About Movies: There are a lot of twists and turns in "Perfect Stranger."
Halle Berry: "As you may have read in the press, Bruce Willis likes to improv a little bit so he did a little bit of that. But for the most part, we kind of had to stick to the script. I mean everybody would come up with a line here or there. You know, just sometimes as an actor, you find that the way the writer wrote a line just doesn’t come out of your mouth right so we change it a lot, but we don’t change the intention. But we sometimes change how it comes out of our mouths. It’s very hard to write for people that you don’t know and sometimes words just flow differently. We had discretion always to change the little words, always keeping the intention of the line and of the scene the same."
Wild About Movies: Why does the chemistry between you and Bruce Willis seem to work so well on the big screen in "Perfect Stranger?"
Halle Berry: "It’s hard not to have chemistry with Bruce because he’s a ladies man but he’s also a man’s man. You know, men like him. He represents that good ol’ macho man’s man and women find him irresistibly sexy. He’s funny and he’s charming. He knows how to say all the right things that just make you feel like you’re the most important person on the planet. Like he’s got all that down. He knows how to do all of that. So it’s really fun to be around Bruce."
Wild About Movies: Two good-looking male co-stars! Giovani Ribisi and Bruce Willis. How was it different working with each guy?
Halle Berry: "Probably because of the nature of the characters that we all played and our connection to each other. You know, my relationship with Bruce was about seducing him so our banter in-between scenes was always very seductive and silly and sexy. We just tried to stay in that mode where Giovanni and I, because he was like my Guy Friday, you know we had a more cerebral conversations all the time. We talked about the computers a lot and you know it was just different."
Wild About Movies: How was working with James Foley ("Perfect Stranger" director) different than any other director you've worked with in the past?
Halle Berry: "You ask anybody - and I would bet my life on this - you ask any actor that he has worked with and they all have loved him. They had to have. He is an actor’s director. He is one of these unique directors that actually has the vocabulary to speak to actors. That’s a different language, really, because actors sometimes have to hear words from an organic place, not an intellectual place. Sometimes the choices we make as actors aren’t based in anything cerebral. They’re just human emotions that are unexplainable sometimes, and James Foley knows how to speak to us in those terms and he supports us. I remember on the first day of shooting. On the movie for the first time, you know everybody’s a little tense. As actors, we’re all very insecure and we just want the director to like what we’ve been working on the night before for the first day. So I’m with Giovanni Ribisi and we’re in that Chemley scene at the restaurant. We do the first take, and after the first take every one of us is kind of looking like, ‘Okay, was that okay? How was that?’ And all we hear from another room, because he’s in another room watching the monitor, we hear screaming, ‘Ahhh, yes!’ We’re like, ‘What the hell was that?’ And it’s James Foley and he’s like screaming, and that was the tone that he set. When we did something that he loved, we got that and when we didn’t, of course, he didn’t. But when we can get that from him and we all felt okay."
Wild About Movies: OK. The wardrobe that your character is provided with. Did you, Halle Berry, have any input as to what she wore?
Halle Berry: "Yes, but we did have an amazing costume designer, Renee Kalfus. But I needed… You know, on many movies for me, if I put on a certain piece of clothing then I feel like the character. I remember in Monster’s Ball when I had those flip-flops on, I was Leticia Musgrove. I had to have the flip-flops. And so there’s always one or two things that hones it in for me. This movie, there was the clothes. Every character that I played within the one character had a piece of clothing that, when I had it, I knew, ‘Okay, now I’m this character.’"
Wild About Movies: You just turned 40. Any different than 39?
Halle Berry: "I would say a magical thing happened when the big 40th birthday came. It was really magical in a way for me. I felt like a light kind of just went off. Maybe because I felt like at 40, I had the right to say and be who I wanted to be, and say what I wanted to say and not accept what I didn’t want to accept. Like maybe it was me that felt the shift, but I do think I’ve gotten wiser and I’ve learned lots of lessons."
Wild About Movies: Are you comfortable in your own skin?
Halle Berry: "I think that also comes with 40, you know, and just getting older. I’ve become really comfortable with my sexuality and making no excuses for it anymore. It’s part of being a woman. It’s part of what empowers us, when we’re smart enough to know how to use it. The character of Row certainly knew how to use it, and I think I’ve been learning as I’ve gotten older. I’ve become comfortable with that side of who I am. In the beginning, I used to have to downplay it because I wanted to be taken so seriously as a thespian and as an artist and as an actor. I’d play crackheads and downtrodden women and disguise myself. I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more comfortable with who I really am and all parts of me, knowing that my physical self doesn’t diminish me in any way or my talent."
Wild About Movies: Is there a role you haven't yet played, something that you're dying to do?
Halle Berry:"Well, I’d really like to be in a romantic comedy. I do have one coming up called Nappily Ever After. I’m going to shave my hair, shave my head bald for this movie. I can’t wait. I’m going to be greasehead bald. I can’t wait. I am also producing the movie." (Unfortunately, we interviewed Berry before Don Imus "nappy headed hos" comment aired, or we would have asked her to pontificate about that!) "We don’t know yet, when the movie will start shooting, because the last version of the script just came in and it came out really good and we're still waiting for the male lead."
Wild About Movies : Talk a little about the character you play in Nappily Ever After.
Halle Berry: "I play this woman, Venus. The movie, it’s all about a woman... You know that relationship that women have with their hair and how hair throughout history has defined us and how we’re in such bondage? Everything is, ‘If my hair’s not right, then we’re not right.’ So my character, at the beginning of the movie, something is done to her and her hair starts to fall out. She decides one night after being drunk trying to deal with the fact that their hair is dragged up, she’s drunk and she decides to shave her hair completely bald. Now she has to face the next morning with no hair and how her whole life and everybody around her is now different and behaves differently. Because she was this beautiful goddess with this long hair and now she’s bald and how she’s different now. She’s forced to look at what beauty really is and it comes from inside, obviously, not from the outside. But it’s a hard lesson for us to get and this movie will sort of expose that and help us sort of come to terms. And maybe every time we hear thunder, we won’t go running for cover."
Wild About Movies: Why shave your head and not wear a skull cap?
Halle Berry: "I’m really ready. I think I want to get this lesson on film because I think I still struggle with this hair issue, too. I’m really going to get the lesson on film. Hopefully other women will get it too."
Wild About Movies: Your next movie, Things We Lost In The Fire co-starring Benicio Del Toro. Talk a little about that.
Halle Berry: "It’s very different from this movie on many levels. It’s a little, small movie that deals with love and loss. It’s very different in the sense that, you know, this is sort of designed to be a crowd pleaser, a whodunit. You know, this is a slice of life movie, a little movie that will probably take the festival route this year. Benicio was great. He’s somebody that I always wanted to work with. I remembering sitting at junkets and people asking, ‘Who would you really love to work with?’ I always would say, ‘Benicio Del Toro, Benicio Del Toro,’ and so I finally got a chance to do that. He’s one of the greatest and I got to work and watch and learn. And to play with somebody who’s that good and that instinctually organic, it was really fun."