Oscar-winning actor Halle Berry had a strike of inspiration on the flight to Saudi Arabia, where she gave a career-spanning conversation at the third edition of the Red Sea Film Festival. The flight, she said, led her to figure out what she wants to direct next: “It’s a love story at its core but it deals with the supernatural, time travel and the future.”
This will mark Berry’s sophomore feature after 2020’s MMA drama “Bruised.” When asked about her first directing experience, the actor was frank, labelling the entire process “hell.” “Because I was a woman, and a Black woman, the treatment I received and the things I had to put up with were unconscionable,” she said. “If I were a white man or even a Black man, it would have been easier. It’s amazing I even made it and a miracle Netflix bought it.”
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Alongside taking the first steps toward her next directing project, Berry is currently in preparation for “Maude v Maude,” a project she described as a mixture of “Mr & Mrs Smith” and “Mission: Impossible” with a comedic twist. Berry is set to co-star and co-produce the film with Angelina Jolie. Despite looking forward to battling Jolie “physically and intellectually,” Berry said the two got off to a “rocky start.”
“We had a rocky start and I think that is going to serve us well in our screen time together,” said Berry, adding she is “thrilled to work with another woman and craft a story with our sensibility and from our point of view. She is formidable.”
When prodded about the reasons behind the complicated first steps in their relationship, Berry said people were going to have to wait to hear that story, but it’s a “good one.” The actor reinforced her belief that the initial conflicts between her and Jolie will help cement their friendship and that the two eventually bonded over many things they share in common: “We’ve been talking a lot about divorces and exes. We bonded, let’s say that.”
The actor revealed her trip to Jeddah is not only to take part in the festival but also to scout locations for “Maude v Maude.” Earlier in the day, Berry visited Al-Balad, the city’s historical center. “We plan on going all around the world. Warner Bros. bought our screenplay and, for us, it is about going places that have never been shown on screen before.”
One of the main topics of the conversation was Berry’s many obstacles in the industry, from overcoming the bias of her beauty to making her way in the field as a Black female actor. Speaking on her 2002 best actress Oscar win for “Monster’s Ball,” Berry said the sad part is that “it’s been 21 years now and no one else like me has walked through that door. That is a great sadness because I felt that night meant something.” Since Berry’s win, no other Black woman has been awarded in that category, with actresses like Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer winning in the supporting race instead.
“Awards aren’t everything. We are working in the industry in a way we never worked, so there has been change and it did matter,” she added.
Later, when discussing how winning accolades has allowed her to choose her projects, Berry noted that she has been an Oscar winner for over 20 years, but hasn’t always been able to decide what she will do next.
“It didn’t do for me what it did for others, which goes back to being a Black woman,” Berry said. “But my production company did move the needle. I get to do what I want, turn ideas into screenplays and decide the producers I work with.”
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