Halle Berry, the 25-year-old Cleveland-born actress and former beauty pageant contestant knows how to leave a lasting impression. She brought an earthbound sweetness to Strictly Business and The Last Boy Scout and straight-backed dignity to the six-hour miniseries Queen. For Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, she gave a rancid-mouthed crackhead some dimension. In Boomerang, Berry turned her third-lead, nice-girl art director into an impressive scene-stealer.
Now Berry is taking off in another direction, showing up as Rosetta Stone, a slithering, prehistoric temptress in Universal’s The Flintstones, co-starring John Goodman and Elizabeth Taylor. Midway through the shoot, we sent writer Margy Rochlin to speak with Berry at her West Hollywood hotel room: g“The first thing Halle did,” says Rochlin, “was offer me a weak handshake and admit that the idea of a long interview made her nervous. Then she threw herself down on her white couch and blabbed for the next two hours. She kept pleading, g‘If you get bored, just tell me.’ She never gave me a reason to.”
Q1: In order to prepare for your role as a crack addict in Jungle Fever, you didn’t bathe for 10 days. What is the upside of skipping your morning shower?
BERRY: It was a freeing experience. We are so civilized. We have to be clean and smell nice and look pretty. It was refreshing just to let myself go and not care.
I dread getting up in the morning and taking a shower, putting on makeup and fixing my hair. With that role, I could just pop out of bed, have my breakfast and go. I didn’t even brush my teeth. You know how you get those little razor bumps when you shave under your arms too much? I didn’t have that. And when I finally did shave, it was like a baby’s bottom under my arms. I was showing everybody: p“Look how pretty my underarms are!”
Q2: Did a different sort of guy start following you home?
BERRY: The bums! [Laughs] The bums were like, m“Hey, baby, you’re looking pretty good.” It was funny because I’d actually talk to them. Some of them are crazy; they really need to be in a mental institution. But others really do have something to say. They’re just down on their luck.
Q3: We know about the straw, blue, rasp and cran. What distinguishes the Halleberry?
BERRY: The Halleberry is a very sweet berry, and that’s important. Being sweet and nice to people goes a long, long way.
Q4: When can a lady use four-letter words?
BERRY: When I’m really in the mood or pissed off, I can curse with the best of them. That is so much a part of me. But I curse only when I’m with my friends—I don’t do it in public. In Jungle Fever, I could do and say whatever I wanted because I was that character. I could say m“Fuck everybody!” I had all these fantasies that I would tell Spike to fuck himself. But I never did.
Q5: What’s something that your husband, Atlanta Braves outfielder David Justice, doesn’t appreciate about you that a movie director would?
BERRY: That I cry a lot. When I cry my husband sometimes doesn’t react like there’s a woman crying but says, g“Come on, stop crying.” If I didn’t cry all the time, maybe he’d be more frantic like he’s supposed to be. But I’m just real emotional. I cry when I’m mad, I cry when I’m sad, I cry when I’m happy. I cry a lot. Except when I’m doing a film. When they say “cry,” all of a sudden I get dry.
Q6: What do you do when you go to the ballpark and your husband goes 0 for 4?
BERRY: I couldn’t care less. I love him no matter what he’s batting. But I feel bad for him because I know he’s going to feel really down about it. He’s going to take the heat from the press, from the fans. I hurt for him.
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