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X-Men: The Last Stand - Halle Berry interview

Halle Berry in X-Men: The Last Stand

Interview by Rob Carnevale

HALLE Berry talks about the latest in the X-Men series and her delight at enabling the character of Storm to be fleshed out and given more to do…

Q. You play a super-hero. Who are your fictional and real-life heroes?
A. My hero has always been my mother. She was a single mum raising two little kids. She happened to be white and raising two little black kids in the 60s and so she was often an outcast. But she did it with such strength and grace and managed to make sense of it for me as a kid. So she will always be heroic in my mind. My fifth grade teacher is another one. She’s still one of my very best friends today. When I think of heroes like modern-day – I think of someone who stands up for what they believe in. Gloria Steinem is someone that’s been heroic in my mind. She’s a person who believes what she believes and is able to stand up and talk about it.

Q. Did you feel a responsibility on this one to step up to the plate as a senior cast member, especially in light of the changes of director?
A. Well I think I felt a great responsibility to myself to have Storm evolve. The day after the second movie opened, I remember I ran into some fans and they practically accosted me on the street and were angry that Storm didn’t step up and she’d somehow diddled into the background. In the original series, she was an African goddess, she was revered, she ruled the country and they wanted to see that side of her. So in that moment I said: “You know what? If I come back I’m going to make it my responsibility, my mission, to have her evolve and satisfy these fans a bit more.” So I was focusing on that as an individual this time. I appealed to Brett very early on when he came on board that he needed to make that happen. I felt a lot of pressure, I guess, as a senior member to allow the comic book fans to feel satisfied this time around with my character.

Q. The X-Men comics and films have become a parable for any member of minority groups in the world. Bryan Singer and Ian McKellen have already talked about how they related to the project based on their backgrounds, so how did that apply to you?
A. Well I certainly have felt it being a woman, firstly, and a woman of colour too. I’ve often felt like an outcast and an outsider and I’ve felt discriminated against because of my gender or because of my nationality or the colour of my skin. So of course I can relate. But the beauty of X-Men is that everybody can relate. You don’t have to be black or be gay. All people have been discriminated against in some way. We all struggle with issues like “are we too thin, are we too fat? Is our nose too big or our boobs too small? Shall we cover our grey hair or should we not?” We all struggle throughout life to make these decisions for ourselves and the question we’re always asking is: “Are we okay exactly the way we are?” So not only do I relate, or Ian or Bryan, but I think everyone relates because we’ve all asked ourselves these tough questions.

Q. How important was it to you that the big action sequences required real physical stunt work without the need for computer-generated effects.
A. I enjoyed them. I was a gymnast as a kid so anytime I get to try things that I don’t really get to do in my real life and stretch my physical limits I love it. On this movie, I thought it was going to be easy. I said: “Okay, I’ll learn a little hand to hand combat. I’m pretty good at that stuff. I’ll fly on wires because I’ve done that as well.” But this time I had to spin at like 90mph. What you discover when you spin at that speed is that something must come out – and it sprays. That was probably one of my most embarrassing moments ever on a movie set. Thank God they have a word called “cut”.

Q. You’ve talked about how your characters have evolved. But if you could change one thing about them, what would it be?
A. I got to change Storm this time so I’m happy. In the last movie, I would have made her stronger, I would have made her a warrior and have a voice, a personality and a better hair cut. So all the things that I said I’d change about Storm I got changed this time. So I’m a happy camper. I’m happy with where she’s at right now.

Q. You’ve played some very important real-life characters. Are there any more that you’d still like to play?
A. I’ve played Dorothy Dandridge, which was the first project that I actually produced, because I loved her so much. Her life meant so much to me personally. So I was lucky, I got to play one of those early. But if I had to choose, and maybe later in life, I’d really love to play Angela Davis. So many people think she’s not a very sympathetic character but as I get older I’ve learned that everyone is sympathetic if you understand why they do whatever they do. Whether you agree or disagree, everyone is human and everybody has some moral core that they come from. If they’re doing something that’s maybe less than desirable it always goes back to their family of origin and they’ve become who they became not always as a fault of their own. It’s how they were grown and what their parents instilled in them. When you look at every person from that simple point of view, you can find sympathy in any character.

Q. We’ve heard that there’s going to be a Wolverine spin-off. Is there any chance of a Storm movie?
A. No chance, not with me anyway. But Hugh and I differ on this. I think there could possibly be another X-Men movie if this one does well enough and if the fans aren’t ready for it to be done. But this series has so many stories and so many characters that it can go on and on almost like a Bond movie. If not, I feel confident that Hugh’s movie is going to go and I’ll get a fly by appearance, or something. I’m not quite ready to say goodbye, especially with this new Storm that’s emerged. I’m just getting started now and they tell me it’s over! I’m like ‘shoot’, so I hope it goes on in some form or fashion.

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