Halle Berry recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of her first film role, in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever. She’s had a successful career since then, even becoming the first black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress, for her performance in 2002’s Monster’s Ball. However, since her success in the early 2000s, Halle Berry has struggled to retain the fame she’d secured for herself. She bounced between film roles, before ending up on Extant, a sci-fi series produced for CBS. However, Extant was cancelled last fall, leaving fans to wonder what’s next for Berry.
Halle Berry’s Early Career
Halle Berry was born Maria Halle Berry in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 14, 1966. When she was four, she moved in with her mom after her parents divorced, and changed her name to Halle Maria Berry when she was five. Berry was an honor student through high school, and was also a cheerleader and voted prom queen. After her graduation, she attended community college, briefly living in a Cleveland suburb, and entered multiple beauty contests, winning multiple. In 1985 she was Miss Teen All American, and the next year, Miss Ohio USA and then first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant, where her interview was given the highest score. While working the pageant circuit, Halle Berry lived in Chicago, working as a model for various retailers.
After Miss USA, she became the first African-American to enter the Miss World pageant, coming in sixth place in 1986, and relocated to New York City. Unable to secure enough modeling gigs, she briefly lived in a shelter. By 1989, she’d gotten into the NYC modeling scene, and was cast in ABC’s Living Dolls, a spin-off from Who’s the Boss? The show didn’t last very long, and is most notable for being when Halle Berry was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after falling into a diabetic coma during filming.
After Living Dolls was cancelled, she moved to Los Angeles, where she got a recurring role on Knots Landing, the prime-time soap opera on CBS. From there, she was cast in her first film role, for Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever. Though her role was small, it was enough for her to be noticed, and later that year she costarred in Strictly Business, a comedy film.
In 1992, she was cast opposite Eddie Murphy in his romantic comedy Boomerang, and the next year was cast as a biracial slave in Queen: The Story of an American Family. She was also cast in 1993’s live-action Flintstones film. The mix of roles helped demonstrate her acting ability, and set her up to star opposite Jessica Lange in Losing Isaiah, where she played young woman trying to retain custody of her son, despite struggles with drug addiction.
When Halle Berry learned that David Justice, then a designated hitter for the Atlanta Braves, was a fan, she gave him her number through a reporter, and shortly after midnight on January 1, 1993, the couple were married.
In 1996 she performed alongside James Belushi in Race the Sun, a comedy-drama based on the true story of a team of high schoolers who built a solar car in 1990. Later that year she co-starred beside Kurt Russell in the action flick Executive Decision, and also became a spokesperson for Revlon cosmetics. She also separated and later divorced Justice, and later admitted the split was so emotional for her that she was at times suicidal.
In 1997 Halle Berry appeared in her first flop, the comedy B*A*P*S. The film was a critical and box office failure. However, in 1998 she played a nearly opposite character with her role in Bulworth, the political comedy. She started 1999 by playing Zola Taylor in the biopic about Frankie Lymon, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, and later that year took on her first role as producer with Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. The HBO biopic was about the first African-American to receive a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actress, an oddly prophetic piece for Halle Berry to be so closely tied with. (Making things even stranger, Berry and Dandridge were actually born in the same Cleveland hospital.)
Berry’s performance earned her several awards, most notably an Emmy and Golden Globe, and helped set the stage for her to enter the new millennium at the top of her career.
X-Men and Monster’s Ball
X-Men, the film adaptation that was released in 2000, helped kick off what’s now 16 years and counting of a growing Marvel presence on the big screen and television. The film, which had been in production in one form or another since 1984, featured an ensemble cast which helped introduce Halle Berry to a wider audience with her portrayal of Storm, one of the original X-Men. Berry would go on to reprise the role several times, in X2: X-Men United (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). However, none of the subsequent films was able to have quite the same cultural effect as 2000’s X-Men.
In 2001, she married Eric Benét, who she’d been dating for a couple years. However, the relationship was brief, ending in 2003. Benét is famously known for encouraging her to go ahead with a topless scene in 2001’s Swordfish, an action crime movie where she was cast alongside fellow X-Men star Hugh Jackman. Also in 2001 she portrayed Leticia Musgrove, who falls in love with Billy-Bob Thorton’s character in Monster’s Ball, a romantic drama. Her role earns her that year’s Academy Award for Best Actress, fulfilling what Dorothy Dandridge had opened the door for so many years earlier.
The role helped redefine Berry’s career. For example, the script of the X-Men sequel, X2, was rewritten to give her more screen time. She was also cast a Bond girl in 2002’s Die Another Day. She was injured during production, when a piece of shrapnel from a smoke grenade hit her in the eye.
The next year she’d suffer another injury filming Gothika, this time from having her arm twisted so hard by Robert Downey, Jr. that it broke. Gothika did well in theaters, but was generally panned by critics. No film Berry was in was as universally criticized as 2004’s Catwoman, though.
With a budget of $100 million, the rough spin-off of the Batman franchise barely grossed $80 million from ticket sales, and was nominated for multiple Golden Raspberry Awards. The Razzies are held to recognize the absolute worst in film, and have become a Hollywood institution since their start in 1980. Halle Berry was awarded the Worst Actress Razzie for Catwoman, and showed up at the awards to collect her “honor.” Typically, recipients of Razzies do not claim their award in person, but Berry in her acceptance speech, Halle Berry said, “my mother told me that if you could not be a good loser, then there’s no way you could be a good winner.”
What’s Halle Berry Doing Now in 2018? – Recent Updates
Since Catwoman, Halle Berry hasn’t had any role as monumental as her character in Monster’s Ball. She was in 2005’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, produced for ABC by Oprah Winfrey, where she received a nomination for an Emmy. She also voice-acted for Robots, the dystopian sci-fi comedy that year, and was an executive producer for the TV rendition of Lackawanna Blues. Also in 2005, she began dating the French Canadian model Gabriel Aubry, who she met while working for Versace.
In 2007, she was in Perfect Stranger alongside Bruce Willis and Things We Lost in the Fire, the first piece she’d been in directed by a woman. She was also awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that year. In 2008, she gave birth to her daughter with long-time boyfriend Gabriel Aubry, naming her Nahla Ariela Aubry.
In 2010 she was in the drama Frankie & Alice, which was not a commercial success, but did net her a few more nominations and awards. She also left her boyfriend, which led to a highly publicized fight over who would maintain custody of their daughter. Berry wanted to move to France to be closer to actor Olivier Martinez, who she met and became interested in while they were filming Dark Tide together. The judge denied her request in November 2012, which led to a rather severe fight between Martinez and Aubry. The two got restraining orders against each other, and after Berry agreed to pay a rather large amount in child support, Aubry agreed to her custody terms. Oliver Martinez and Halle Berry then were married on July 13, 2013, and that October she gave birth to a son, Maceo Robert Martinez.
In early 2014, Berry began filming for Extant for CBS. The show was ordered straight-to-series, skipping the normal step of running a pilot. The show cast Halle Berry as the lead, an astronaut who became pregnant, despite being alone in space for nearly 13 months and having previously been diagnosed as infertile. Extant ran for two seasons, and was given generally favorable reviews by critics, despite having low viewership.
As part of the project, Halle Berry launched 606 Films, named after California Senate Bill 606, which helps protect celebrities from the more aggressive paparazzi tactics. Berry helped lobby for the legislation. 606 Films has one film in the works, Kidnap, which will star Halle Berry. It’s set for release this December, and will cast her as a mother whose child is kidnapped, trying to find him.
Halle Berry is also going to be in next summer’s sequel to Kingsman, called Kingsman: The Golden Circle. The film will follow in the footsteps of the 2015 spy film, so will likely be a box office smash, even if critics are a little skeptical. It will be a good role for Berry, however, who has been out of the action thriller scene for a while, despite the genre making a comeback.