GOTHIKA - Q&A with Halle Berry
GOTHIKA is a ghost story in which psychiatrist Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) wakes up as a patient in the very asylum where she worked with no memory of committing a terrible crime. GOTHIKA is Halle Berry's first film since she won the Oscar for best actress in 2003.
You've been quoted as saying that you were actually quite scared by some of the scenes in the movie during filming.
It was creepy rather than scary! At the end of the day, we all know it's a movie and that this stuff isn't really happening - but it was a little creepy to be in dark dungeon-type places, spaces where you knew real death had taken place. It was always very cold and there was just some element in the air that made us all feel like we all weren't truly alone where we were shooting, and that lent to the spookiness of the filmmaking.
Did you ever go home wishing you were making a musical instead of a horror picture?
(Laughs) Oh no, I loved the three months we spent making a horror movie. It was a great departure for me because I've never worked in this genre before. I was tempted to go back and watch THE SHINING and some of those really great horror or thrillers but I resisted because this has to be a film that stands on its own and I didn't want to mimic or copy things I'd seen before. But it was a relief at the end. I enjoyed the experience - it was really cathartic for me at the end of the day, most movies usually are. I've also grown as an actor as I've got older in life; I've learned how to go to work, immerse myself one hundred percent in the character, and then at the end of the day take it all off and go back, get a nice bubble bath, have a nice massage and realise that is not my life. And that feels good.
Didn't you have a paranormal experience of your own while filming your DOROTHY DANDRIDGE biopic in 1999?
People who believe in ghosts are the ones who have had that experience. Our nature is to be very sceptical: unless we've seen it we don't believe it. I did have a couple of experiences on DOROTHY DANDRIDGE. Her spirit or some spirit was around me all the time. I knew it, so did the crew and everybody around me. Nothing outlandish happened; it was just a feeling that we all would get. Strange things would happen that couldn't be explained other than by saying, "OK, something supernatural has got to be happening here."
You throw yourself about a lot in this film, I wondered if you injured yourself?
In GOTHIKA I had a broken arm. It was in a scene that didn't involve any stunts, Robert Downey just twisted my arm the wrong way and it just...broke (laughs). But we're friends. It was an accident, just one of those freaky accidents that happen while making this odd movie, one of those strange things that happened. So we had to stop filming for eight weeks while I had a full-blown cast on and after that my full arm cast was reduced to a small very thin cast from my wrist to my elbow and I finished with that little cast on.
Was it the same arm that your character injures onscreen during the film?
No, it was the other arm! But we thought it would be a good camouflage - people would think it was the arm that was bandaged, so they never really looked at the other arm and I think a lot of people maybe missed the cast on the other arm because they were focusing on the arm with the white bandage. In a few places in the movie where you can see my cast but nobody seems to have noticed it.
What was it like working with Penelope Cruz?
Penelope was great casting, a very opposite type because she's so beautiful, and we get her to take her makeup off and get her to play a dark character in a dark place - I thought she was very believable and I was really happy to see her take a risk.
Did you know her before?
Only in passing, like you see people at events or functions and you say hello. I was a fan of her work, I loved her in BLOW. We had no rehearsal in this film, we hit the ground running but we bonded through the work, through the days. We did spend a lot of time together shooting those scenes.
Did the fact that your mother was a psychiatric nurse have an effect on your response to the role?
I think so and I think that initially that is why I responded so positively to the part: it felt so familiar to me when I first read it because my mother was a nurse in a psych for 35 years, practically all of my life. I was very used to hear her talk about it and tell me stories. I'd been to her institution many times so it was very familiar, it was a world that I knew.
And your father was also a hospital attendant. Did that make you feel it was almost destiny bringing to this role?
Yes I do feel that it was destiny, but not because of that. Everything happens for a reason in life, I think.
As a successful African American woman do you find pressurised by certain expectations?
It's not so much the pressure but I do take it very seriously. I know they are watching and that other people of colour perhaps get a sense of hope or maybe it inspires them to achieve their goals and realise their dreams. But I don't get so bogged down with it that it becomes a pressure. I know I'm only one human being and I'm only making one tiny contribution and it's nothing more than that.
Your next film is CATWOMAN, and it's already attracted some comment about the look of the film...
I just finished work on it last night! I love the look of the film; it's modern, it's edgy, it's very much reflective of the 21 st century and who women are today. As for the controversy about the look of the film - you can't please everyone. As I've gotten older, I've learned to accept that and take it with a grain of salt. I also remind myself that there was a lot of negativity around X-MEN, another movie I've been a part of, especially on the internet from comic book aficionados. Nothing we did on that movie made them happy initially - and then by the end of the second movie they loved it. So we try to stay true to what we were trying to do.
Do you ever re-watch your Oscar speech?
I've watched it two times since that night and mainly the reason I watched it was that I was so out of my body that I didn't remember what I'd said. I felt I talked way too long and I wish I could have edited it. But I also felt it was a great moment for me in my life and I knew that it was about more than me. So I thought maybe it was OK the way it was.
Where do you keep the Oscar?
It's at home but he moves all around the house. Depending on my mood, some days he's on the kitchen table, some days he's in the bathroom, some days he's in the living room. I like to move him around. He's always near.
Question and Answer Text Copyright Columbia TriStar