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Halle Berry

Halle Berry

Halle BerryHalle Maria Berry was born on the 14th of August, 1968 in Cleveland, Ohio. Her father, Jerome, an African American and a hospital attendant by trade, left when she was just four, so she and her elder sister Heidi were raised by their Caucasian, Liverpool-born mother, Judith, herself a nurse in a psychiatric ward. Jerome returned after four years directing violence towards both Judith and Heidi. He did not stay long and throughout her adult life Halle would have no contact with him. Her dad has died of a heart attack in Cleveland, Ohio, before the pair had the chance to end their feud. Halle never forgave alcoholic Jerome for beating her mum Judith and sister Heidi in drunken rages and walking out on the family.

Halle attended a nearly all white school where she was subjected to racial abuse. To divert her attention away from this she threw herself into school activities. She was in the Honour Society, a cheerleader, class president, and an editor on the school newspaper. She was also Prom Queen but, having won outright, was accused of voting irregularities and forced to share her title with a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP).

Halle Berry

In 1983 Halle won Miss Ohio. She went on to win Miss Teen All-American, Miss Ohio and in 1986 was first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant. She was the first African American to represent the U.S. in the Miss World competition in London.

Halle attended Cleveland's Cuyahoga Community College, where she studied broadcast journalism. She didn't complete the course. Instead, having decided to act, she financed herself by more modelling and studied acting in Chicago, before moving on to Manhattan in search of work.

Halle's acting career began with a role on the short-lived television sitcom "Living Dolls". During filming she collapsed on set and was later diagnosed with diabetes.

Halle's first big screen break came later that year when she was cast as Samuel L. Jackson’s drug addicted girlfriend in Spike Lee’s "Jungle Fever". During this time she had she had a brief fling with the film's star, Wesley Snipes.

Still looking for television work where she could find it, in 1991 Halle did a year-long run on the CBS prime time drama "Knot’s Landing".

Next, again alongside Samuel L. Jackson, she played the love interest in Strictly Business, playing a cool club promoter who spurns the advances of a dull black stockbroker.

More substantial supporting roles followed, including that of a stripper in the action-thriller "The Last Boy Scout", starring Bruce Willis. This success lead to Halle as the woman who finally wins Eddie Murphy’s heart in the romantic comedy "Boomerang".

In 1993 Halle married Atlanta Braves right fielder David Justice to whom she'd proposed after just six months. Just three years later they divorced amidst vicious acrimony.

After her divorce she toiled for the National Breast Cancer Coalition and visited US troops in Sarajevo, later being given an award by the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations.

Halle then took the lead in the TV miniseries Queen by Roots-writer Alex Haley. She played the title role in the true story of Haley's own grandmother, as she struggled on the tobacco plantations in the days immediately prior to the end of slavery. The show was a great success.

Next Halle played a journalist trying uncover corruption in the foster system by tracking down a crook, played by Patrick Swayze, on the run with his two kids who've broken out of a foster-shelter where they've been abused. The movie was disappointing, but it showed how Halle was keen to deal with serious subject matter. This was the case too with The Program, about the awful pressures placed on college football-players. The film became notorious for one scene where a boy, unable to take any more, calmly lies down before onrushing traffic. There were several copy-cat fatalities, so Disney pulled the movie and removed the offending scene.

After taking a break from serious roles by playing sexy secretary Sharon Stone in The Flintstones, Halle then moved back to serious subject matter. Halle's next role was a no-holds-barred performance as a rehabilitated crack addict seeking to regain custody of her son in "Losing Isaiah". The story was set in the midst of a bitter custody battle with adoptive parents, played by Jessica Lange and David Strathairn.

Probably due to the pressures of her divorce and the constant hounding of the press, Halle's career spiralled downwards for a couple of years. She was the Queen of Sheba in a TV remake of the Yul Brynner/Gina Lollobrigida classic. Then there was an unimportant part in the Kurt Russell/Steven Seagal film Executive Decision, about terrorists seizing an aircraft. Next there was The Rich Man's Wife, a poor noir thriller where she played an unhappy spouse who tells stranger Clive Owen she wishes her husband were dead. When he soon is, she begins to fear that she's set something terrible in motion. Worse still was BAPs where she played one of two desperately tacky Southern waitresses who, hoping to launch their own restaurant-come-hairdressers, seek their fortune in LA where Berry winds up trying to kid millionaire Martin Landau that she's his former lover's grand-daughter. Meanwhile, Landau's butler teaches her and her friend how to be ladies.

Eventually, once her divorce was finalised, things began to change. First came mini-series The Wedding, another racially motivated movie asking whether Berry's character should marry a white jazz musician or do the proper thing and wed a black man.

In Bulworth, Warren Beatty played a suicidal senator who organises a hit on himself and decides to spend his last hours telling the truth to the people. Down in South Central, he meets street-smart Berry who thinks his honesty is another political con-job, but gradually comes to fall for his bizarre integrity, as does the rest of the nation. Although the film was awful, Berry's performance put her back into the minds of the Hollywood influential. She reinforced that position with two further projects.

First came Why Do Fools Fall In Love. Berry played one of three women claiming to be the widow of singer Frankie Lymon and battling for his estate.

Halle Berry

Then, in 1999, executively produced by Berry herself, there was Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. Dandridge was the first black actress to be nominated for the Best Actress Oscar - for Carmen Jones. The film followed her from her early days on the club circuit, through her screen career, her affair with Otto Preminger, her troubles with racists (in one hotel they emptied the pool and scrubbed it after she put her foot in it), and on to her sad death from an overdose. Berry's performance was terrific and earned her both an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

In August of 1999, Halle became secretly engaged to Eric Benét, a jazz musician. The engagement was announced in December of that year. Halle introduced Benét as her "husband" at the public unveiling of her official Web site, Hallewood, in February 2001, while the couple actually wed two weeks before at an undisclosed tropical location. Unfortunately the relationship would quickly turn sour due to Benet's adultery. Berry tried to keep their marriage together by taking Benet to counselling, but it was all to no avail. They separated in October 2003 and she filed for divorce.

The new millennium brought big movies. First, as Storm, a mutant super-heroine capable of controlling the weather, in the massive hit X-Men. Then came Swordfish, with John Travolta and her X-Men co-star Hugh Jackman. Her role as Ginger, being used to seduce/recruit ex-con Jackman, was very stylish, though audience polls suggested that everyone's favourite moment was when Halle went topless.

Not everything in the new millennium was rosy though. In February 2000, while driving on Sunset Boulevard, Halle ran a red light in her rented Chevrolet Blazer and collided with another vehicle. The woman in the other vehicle, Hetha Raythatha suffered a broken wrist in the collision. Halle took off for hospital where she received 20 stitches for a head wound and only reported the accident later. Despite claiming she was disorientated by the injury to her head, she was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and got three years probation, a $13,500 fine and 200 hours community service. She'll also have to pay whatever compensation is demanded after the inevitable civil action.

Now a major star, her next film was Monster's Ball where she played the widow of an executed criminal, played by Sean 'P. Diddy' Coombs. A struggling waitress with a kid to support, she's lonely and desperate and seeks solace in the arms of Billy Bob Thornton who, as it turns out, is one of the wardens who put her husband to death. For her role, Berry was nominated for an Oscar, which she won.

She next won the part of Jinx in the 20th James Bond instalment, Die Another Day and became the only Oscar winner to play a Bond girl.

After the Bond film she played Storm again, in X-Men 2. It was another massive success, smashing the $200 million barrier.

Another hit followed immediately with Gothika, with Berry headlining. Here she was Miranda Grey, a prison psychiatrist who suffers a car crash and wakes up in the prison, accused of murdering her husband and unable to remember a thing. Trapped in this Dickensian establishment, where Robert Downey Jr was a fellow pschiatrist and Penelope Cruz a former patient and now an inmate, she must struggle for her freedom and her sanity. During an on-screen struggle with Downey she broke her arm which halted production for 8 weeks.

After presenting the Best Actor award at the 2003 Oscars ceremony came Catwoman, Berry playing the lead. It was another tough shoot, with failed stunts sending Berry to hospital yet again, and it did not test well, re-shoots being required just a month before release.

Halle moved on to Their Eyes Were Watching God, a TV movie produced by Oprah Winfrey and based on the novel by Zora Neale Hurston. This saw her as the free-spirited Janie Crawford, a young woman going through several marriages from the 1920s and challenging the conservative views of those around her.

Halle also lent her voice to the animated Robots, playing a similar role to her Ginger in Swordfish. This time she was a cyber-seducer, sent by evil Mel Brooks to stop Ewan McGregor from changing the world for the better.

Berry will reprise her role again in the third installment X-Men 3 scheduled for a May 2006 release.

She is currently filming the thriller Perfect Stranger with Bruce Willis.

Filmography:

Jungle Fever (1991)
Strictly Business (1991)
The Last Boy Scout (1991)
Boomerang (1992)
CB4 (1993) (Cameo)
Father Hood (1993)
The Program (1993)
The Flintstones (1994)
Losing Isaiah (1995)
Executive Decision (1996)
Race the Sun (1996)
Girl 6 (1996) (Cameo)
The Rich Man's Wife (1996)
B*A*P*S (1997)
Bulworth (1998)
Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1998)
Introducing Dorothy Dandridge(1999)
X-Men (2000)
Welcome to Hollywood (2000) (documentary)
Swordfish (film) (2001)
Monster's Ball (2001)
Die Another Day (2002)
X2 (2003)
Gothika (2003)
Catwoman (2004)
Robots (2005) (voice)
Upcoming:

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Perfect Stranger (2006)

Halle Berry

TV Work:

Living Dolls (1989) (cancelled after 13 episodes)
Knots Landing (cast member in 1991)
Queen: The Story of an American Family (1993) (miniseries)
Solomon & Sheba (1995)
The Wedding (1998)
Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999) (also executive producer)
Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005)

Halle Berry Picture Gallery

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