In 2002, Halle Berry made history: She became the first Black person to win the Best Actress Oscar, for the drama Monster’s Ball. But in a new interview, she says it didn’t lead to the avalanche of great roles like she’d assumed. Instead, she had to fight for good parts, even accept ones she found dubious. Which is one reason, she admits, that she did the derided comic book spin-off movie Catwoman. Still, she doesn’t exactly regret doing that one.
While talking to Entertainment Weekly ahead of her forthcoming action movie Bruised (as caught by IndieWire), Berry looked back on how her nabbing an Academy Award didn’t lead to tons of juicy roles with prestige directors.
“It was surprising,” she said. “Because I thought they were going to just back up the truck and drop them off at my house, right? When you have a historic win like that, you think, ‘Oh, this is going to fundamentally change.’ It did fundamentally change me, but it didn’t change my place in the business overnight. I still had to go back to work. I still had to try to fight to make a way out of no way.”
And so the newly Oscar-winning Halle Berry had to lower her expectations and do some dicey movies — like Catwoman, which gave the Batman for her very own heroic movie, with a villain played by no less than Sharon Stone.
“It’s like, okay, that’s a film I can’t say I’m totally in love with, but this isn’t a hobby. It’s how I take care of my children,” Berry said. “But I try to keep that sense of wonder and stay curious. Because being a Black woman, I haven’t always had parts that I absolutely love.”
That said, Berry’s first post-Oscar role was another game-changer: With Die Another Day, she became the first Black actress to play a heroic Bond girl. (Previous Black Bond girls, such as Gloria Hendry in Live and Let Die or Grace Jones in A View to a Kill, had been in cahoots with the Bond villain.) But a spin-off featuring her character, Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson, was axed because MGM refused to hand $80 million to a movie starring Berry.
When Catwoman came crawling, she found it hard to say no. And though it was a critical and commercial bomb, it had its perks. “It was one of the biggest paydays of my whole life, which, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Berry said. “I don’t want to feel like ‘Oh, I can only do award-worthy stuff.’ What is an award-worthy performance?”
Bruised hits theaters on Sept. 12. Meanwhile, one can watch Catwoman on HBO Max.