Halle Berry is set to make her directorial debut at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
The Oscar-winning actress directs and stars in the drama “Bruised”, about a disgraced MMA fighter who must claw her way back into the ring to face off against a fierce competitor and finally be a mother to the son she walked out on years earlier.
The project gave Berry a chance to flex her skills in front of and behind the camera, something she relished.
“It’s not just being a dancing bear. I can project what I want to say,” she tells Variety in a new interview. “As an actor, I always show up and do my part, and I can only do what I can do. Being the director, I have a part in the totality of every department. I get to have a voice. That was different, and I really loved that.”
Despite some injuries from taking on the physical role, Berry pushed through to continue filming.
“I didn’t want to stop because I had prepared for so long,” she says. “We had rehearsed; we were ready. So my mind — my director’s mind — was just: Keep going. And I compartmentalized that, and I just kept going: I’m not going to stop. I’ve come too far. I’m going to act as if this isn’t hurting. I’m going to will myself through it. And so we did.”
Berry is feeling the push to celebrate female directors as women “are feeling confident enough to tell our stories. And there is a place for us to tell our stories,” she explains. “For so long, our experiences have been told narratively through the guise of men.”
One of those stories told through the eyes of men was her role in the “Batman” spinoff “Catwoman” in 2004, which the actress says she had little pushback on.
“The story didn’t feel quite right. I remember having that argument: ‘Why can’t Catwoman save the world like Batman and Superman do? Why is she just saving women from a face cream that cracks their face off?’ But I was just the actor for hire. I wasn’t the director,” she adds. “I had very little say over that.”
However, Berry says, though she famously faced off against her “X-Men” director Bryan Singer a few times, she ultimately feels “compassion” for him.
“Bryan’s not the easiest dude to work with,” she recalls. “I mean, everybody’s heard the stories — I don’t have to repeat them — and heard of his challenges, and what he struggles with,” she tells Variety.
“I would sometimes be very angry with him. I got into a few fights with him, said a few cuss words out of sheer frustration,” she recalls. “When I work, I’m serious about that. And when that gets compromised, I get a little nutty. But at the same time, I have a lot of compassion for people who are struggling with whatever they’re struggling with, and Bryan struggles.
“Sometimes, because of whatever he’s struggling with, he just didn’t always feel present. He didn’t feel there. And we’re outside in our little ‘X-Men’ stage freezing our ass off in Banff, Canada, with subzero weather and he’s not focusing. And we’re freezing. You might get a little mad.”