SECRET TO ROMANCE
Copyright 2001 www.nypost.com
[ December 12th 2001 ]
who's heard Angelina Jolie gush about her husband's
charms can guess Billy Bob Thornton has something
special. Halle Berry doesn't have to guess. "He's
very sexy," Berry says of her co-star in the upcoming
he's handsome, absolutely, but his sex appeal
comes from something else - the way he looks at
you, the way he takes you in. He makes everyone
feel special; he takes the time to talk to you
and look at you."
Sky brings together real-life lovers Penelope
Cruz and Tom Cruise, and Ocean's Eleven paired
George Clooney and Julia Roberts. But neither
coupling produced the kind of sparks that flew
when Berry and Thornton hit the sheets. Their
scene was filmed on a closed set and the resulting
footage was so hot that a minute's worth had to
be cut to avoid an NC-17 rating. Even director
Marc Forster was blown away. "I felt like I was
watching two people who had no idea they were
being watched," he said.
with which the two characters tear off each other's
clothes and fall naked to the floor in a frenzied,
drunken coupling has left early-screening audiences
feeling almost uncomfortably voyeuristic, too.
"Those characters are getting their needs filled,"
Berry told The Post during a quick trip to New
York to promote the film, which is already garnering
critical acclaim leading up to its Dec. 26 release.
plays Letitia, the wife of a death-row prisoner
(played by Sean "Puffy" Combs), and Thornton is
Hank, the emotionally scarred prison guard who
executed him. "It's polar opposites sometimes
that make the best chemistry," said Berry. "That's
what was displayed in the movie." Berry says the
fact that both stars are secure in their marriages
helped them leave their inhibitions at the door.
"I didn't feel like [Thornton] would use this
scene as a way to exploit the situation and take
advantage of me, and I don't think he felt that,
either," she said.
says she and Thornton "got really close really
fast" during the 21-day shoot. Still, Thornton
insists Jolie wasn't jealous. "She and I have
a real strong relationship, and we're the best
friends in the world," he told The Post.
husband of a year, singer Eric Benet, was a different
story. "I had a screening just for him to let
him deal with it," Berry admits. "At the end of
the day, he was able to say, 'I'm really proud
of you for the risk you took.' But then he said,
'But I don't like seeing you with another man
like that!' "
33-year-old actress says her notorious "three-second
boob shot" opposite Hugh Jackman in this year's
"Swordfish" prepped her for this role. "If I hadn't
done that and been over it, when I got to the
love scene in the 'Monster's Ball' script, I would
have stopped reading and said, 'Not for me.'"
was, she couldn't put the script down. "I was
shocked; I was riveted; I was moved, sad, angry,"
she says. "I felt I could totally relate to this
woman character - she was strong, yet very vulnerable;
she was angry, but very fragile; she went on a
journey and, at the end, through her perseverance
and strength, she bettered her life. "At that
moment, I called up my manager and said, 'Let
the fight begin! I want this.' "
did have a fight on her hands to convince Forster
that, despite her many glamorous roles in mainstream
blockbusters, she could get down and dirty in
a sparse, shoestring-budget film that veers from
tender to shockingly brutal.
the A-lister - who weathered rumors that she'd
demanded a $300,000 bonus to take her top off
in "Swordfish"- says she walked away from "Monster's
Ball" with just $5,000. Berry, who is about to
start filming the "X-men" sequel and is negotiating
to play a villain in the next James Bond film,
also walked away believing she had given a career-changing
week, she snagged the National Board of Review's
Best Actress award for the role and she's in a
strong position for the Oscar race. Asked what
an Academy Award would mean to her, in light of
the years she spent struggling for recognition
as a black actress in Hollywood, she bows her
head. When she looks up, her eyes are brimming
with tears. "It would mean a lot," she says simply.