Halle Maria Berry (born Maria Halle Berry; August 14, 1966) is an American actress. Berry won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the romantic drama Monster’s Ball (2001). As of 2018, she is the only woman of African-American descent to have won the award.
Berry was one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood during the 2000s, and has been involved in the production of several of the films in which she performed. Berry is also a Revlon spokesmodel. Before becoming an actress, she started modeling and entered several beauty contests, finishing as the 1st runner-up in the Miss USA Pageant and coming in 6th place in the Miss World Pageant in 1986. Her breakthrough film role was in the romantic comedy Boomerang (1992), alongside Eddie Murphy, which led to roles in films, such as the family comedy The Flintstones (1994), the political comedy-drama Bulworth (1998) and the television film Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999), for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award, among other awards.
In addition to her Academy Award win, Berry garnered high-profile roles in the 2000s, such as Storm in X-Men (2000), the action crime thriller Swordfish (2001), and the spy film Die Another Day (2002), where she played Bond girl Jinx. She then appeared in the X-Men sequels, X2 (2003) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). In the 2010s, she appeared in a number of films, including the science-fiction film Cloud Atlas (2012), the crime thriller The Call (2013) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). Berry was formerly married to baseball player David Justice and singer-songwriter Eric Benét.
In the independent drama Frankie and Alice (2010), Berry played the leading role of a young multiracial American woman with dissociative identity disorder struggling against her alter personality to retain her true self. The film received a limited theatrical release, to a mixed critical response. The Hollywood Reporter nevertheless described the film as “a well-wrought psychological drama that delves into the dark side of one woman’s psyche” and found Berry to be “spellbinding” in it. She earned the African-American Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress and a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama. She next made part of a large ensemble cast in Garry Marshall’s romantic comedy New Year’s Eve (2011), with Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Biel, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Sofía Vergara, among many others. In the film, she took on the supporting role of a nurse befriending a man in the final stages (De Niro). While the film was panned by critics, it made US$142 million worldwide.
In 2012, Berry starred as an expert diver tutor alongside then-husband Oliver Martinez in the little-seen thriller Dark Tide, and led an ensemble cast opposite Tom Hanks and Jim Broadbent in The Wachowskis’s epic science fiction film Cloud Atlas (2012), with each of the actors playing six different characters across a period of five centuries. Budgeted at US$128.8 million, Cloud Atlas made US$130.4 million worldwide, and garnered polarized reactions from both critics and audiences.
Berry appeared in a segment of the independent anthology comedy Movie 43 (2013), which the Chicago Sun-Times called “the Citizen Kane of awful”. Berry found greater success with her next performance, as a 9-1-1 operator receiving a call from a girl kidnapped by a serial killer, in the crime thriller The Call (2013). Berry was drawn to “the idea of being a part of a movie that was so empowering for women. We don’t often get to play roles like this, where ordinary people become heroic and do something extraordinary.” Manohla Dargis of The New York Times found the film to be “an effectively creepy thriller”, while reviewer Dwight Brown felt that “the script gives Berry a blue-collar character she can make accessible, vulnerable and gutsy[…]”. The Call was a sleeper hit, grossing US$68.6 million around the globe.
In 2014, Berry signed on to star and serve as a co-executive producer in CBS drama series Extant, where she took on the role of Molly Woods, an astronaut who struggles to reconnect with her husband and android son after spending 13 months in space. The show ran for two seasons until 2015, receiving largely positive reviews from critics. USA Today remarked: “She [Halle Berry] brings a dignity and gravity to Molly, a projected intelligence that allows you to buy her as an astronaut and to see what has happened to her as frightening rather than ridiculous. Berry’s all in, and you float along”. Also in 2014, Berry launched a new production company, 606 Films, with producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas. It is named after the Anti-Paparazzi Bill, SB 606, that the actress pushed for and which was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown in the fall of 2013. The new company emerged as part of a deal for Berry to work in Extant.
In the stand-up comedy concert film Kevin Hart: What Now? (2016), Berry appeared as herself, opposide Kevin Hart, attending a poker game event that goes horribly wrong. Kidnap, an abduction thriller Berry filmed in 2014, was released in 2017. In the film, she starred as a dinner waitress tailing a vehicle when her son is kidnapped by its occupants. Kidnap grossed US$34 million and garnered mixed reviews from writers, who felt that it “strays into poorly scripted exploitation too often to take advantage of its pulpy premise — or the still-impressive talents of [Berry].” She next played an agent employed by a secret American spy organisation in the action comedy sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017), as part of an ensemble cast, consisting of Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Julianne Moore, and Elton John. While critical response towards the film was mixed, it made US$414 million worldwide.
Alongside Daniel Craig, Berry starred as a working-class mother during the 1992 Los Angeles riots in Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s drama Kings (2017). The film found a limited theatrical release following its initial screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, and as part of an overall lukewarm reception, Variety noted: “It should be said that Berry has given some of the best and worst performances of the past quarter-century, but this is perhaps the only one that swings to both extremes in the same movie”. She has taken on the role of an assassin in the film John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, which is scheduled to be released on May 17, 2019 by Lionsgate.
Berry competed against James Corden in the first rap battle on the first episode of TBS’s Drop the Mic, originally aired on October 24, 2017.
She currently serves as executive producer of the BET television series Boomerang, based on the film in which she starred. The series premieres February 12, 2019.