Gurney's Inn
April 18, 2007

Halle Berry Goes Unercover

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Sigourney Weaver did it for Alien III, and Natalie Portman shaved off her locks in V for Vendetta. Angst-filled Britney Spears reaped tons of negative publicity after her encounter with a pair of clippers. Even Indy Editor Rick Murphy is about to do the dirty deed.

Few would suspect that under Halle Berry's multi- layered brunette coif with auburn highlights lies a shiny dome, but the Oscar-winning "Monster's Ball""actress isn't planning to go public, not until the cameras begin to roll on her next movie, Nappily Ever After.

Right now, Berry's top priority is successfully launching'Perfect Stranger, a sexy thriller that asks the question: how far will a person go to keep a secret? Portraying an investigative reporter named Rowena Price, Berry goes undercover at a high profile advertising agency, helmed by Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis), to track down the murderer of her childhood friend.

Lending an assist is computer geek Miles Haley (Giovanni Ribisi). What moviegoers soon discover is that only a thin line separates the pursuer from the perpetrator in a plot land minded with surprising twists.

The 40-year-old actress explained her fascination with alterego Rowena "I love playing tortured characters. I don't know what that says about me, but I really love getting into the mind of someone who's a bit buffeted, a bit battered. This character is very vulnerable, but she's also very alive."

Perfect Stranger revolves around secrets. "I have secrets and it becomes harder and harder each year as the paparazzi become relentless in trying to find out people's personal business, but I manage," Berry demurely confessed during a recent interview at Manhattan's Regency Hotel.

That doesn't guarantee immunity from media scrutiny. A recent Parade magazine story made reference to a suicide attempt. "I'm not going to lie about it, but they regurgitated a story that was 10 years old after my divorce from David Justice and presented it as a new and a first time admission.

"What I'm running away from is the way they sensationalized the headline and put out a press release saying,''Halle Berry thinks of suicide.' They took something very personal and made it tabloid fodder. Years ago, I talked about it on Larry King and Oprah Winfrey and they treated it with the respect it deserved, and Parade did not."

At the same time, Berry's professional accomplishments were being acknowledged with the unveiling of her star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame April 3. Her voice betraying excitement and pride, she said,'"That was monumental. I didn't realize how important that would be to me until I actually got there and saw the people – all the people from my professional life and my peers, studio heads, people that I respect. I got all choked up. There were hundreds and hundreds of fans.

"It was a big moment that my name will forever be there with all the greats, that's part of my legacy. One hundred years from now, it will still be there. I've known since I was young and being a woman of color that everything I did or said would be looked at under a different microscope."

She added,""Dorothy Dandridge was one of my heroes as a child and, unfortunately, she lived at a time [during which] she couldn't realize her dream. I realized that I could and felt I had to take advantage of the opportunities that people before me died trying to get."

Paying homage to her role model earned Berry an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a SAG award, and NAACP Image Awards for her star turn in the HBO telefilm Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, which she also produced.

Portraying roles like Jinx in the James Bond feature Die Another Day, and Storm in X-Men, Berry's beauty is legendary, but she refuses to "rest on the laurel of beauty." She elaborated,""I've never thought my looks would provide a career for me in this industry. I always knew that as an actor I'd have to work hard, study, learn, and take chances like in Jungle Fever, my first movie where my physical self was erased and I became a character actor so people could see past this shell.

"The same is true of The Things We Lost in the Fire that is being released in October where I play an average everyday woman, who lost her husband and is left with two kids."

In most people's minds shedding one's hair for a part might symbolize the ultimate sacrifice. Yet that's exactly what Halle did for her upcoming role as Venus Johnston, a woman who sends her commitment-phobic live-in boyfriend packing in the screen adaptation of Trisha R. Thomas's book Nappily Ever After.

The Revlon spokeswoman for the past 12 years laughingly conceded, "I, like most women, have this love affair with our hair, we define ourselves by our hair. If our hair's not right, somehow we are fundamentally not right.

"It will be a great study to go into the mind of someone who loses her hair and discover how she deals with the world and how the world deals with her. Now that her façade is gone and she's stripped bare.

"I think that's worth shaving your head for, that kind of discovery."

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