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Feature: Gothika

Horror for Halle

Oscar-winning Halle Berry talks about her demanding role in the chilling new Supernatural Horror movie Gothika

Halle Berry continues to surprise movie-goers with her post-Oscar film choices. Right after she won a golden statuette for her heartbreaking performance in Monster’s Ball, Berry starred as Jinx in the James Bond adventure Die Another Day and reprised her role as the mutant Storm in X2. And now here she is starring in Gothika, a Horror film. After that comes Catwoman and then, if MGM changes its mind, a Jinx spin-off feature that was announced with great fanfare, then dropped by the studio.

Gothika casts Berry as Dr Miranda Grey, a criminal psychologist who awakens one day only to realize she’s now a patient at the Woodward Penitentiary for Women – the facility where she worked! Her husband (Charles S Dutton) the penitentiary’s chief administrator, is dead and Grey is not only the prime suspect, but she’s now considered as crazy and dangerous as Chloe (Penélope Cruz), a killer whose claims of satanic torture Grey previously chalked up to paranoia. Now Grey isn’t so sure that Chloe wasn’t telling the truth, but there’s no convincing ex-colleague Dr Graham (Robert Downey, Jr) or anyone else that strange and terrifying, even ghostly things really are going on.

Grey is a unique showcase for Berry. The role required tremendous physicality and emotional intensity, and Berry was all alone, acting opposite no one, in several of the most dramatic scenes. “I don’t even think about the physicality of roles until, honestly, I get the gig and I think, ‘OK, what do I have to do in this one?’” Berry says. “I approach it thinking more about the character, and I respond to it because it’s something I think I can play, because it seems like it’ll be fun. Then, as with Gothika, I really hadn’t thought through all the physical things I’d have to do, running around with no shoes on, all the jumping and the fighting. That was such an afterthought, the action.”

“Acting alone was a challenge for me on this. In every movie, I realize that I learn something new about what I can and can’t do, and I’m forced to stretch and grow. That was a big area for me, to keep that level of emotion so that once she wakes up in that institution, every moment is sort of at a heightened level. It was a stretch. I had to work really hard to keep it up all the time. It’s draining at the end of the day, but on some other level, it’s also really cathartic. So, although physically I would feel exhausted and tired, my back would hurt, my arms would hurt and my feet would be raw from running through all the stuff, there was still something about it that felt good, like I had a cathartic experience. I got a lot of stuff out of me that was pent up in little corners of myself, so I felt good at the same time.”

by Steve Dexter

Get the full interview when you buy
Shivers #109

Photo © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

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December 2003
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