“I like to call that scene the kiss of life”: Halle Berry Completely Lost Herself During Her Oscar Winning Role in Monster’s Ball

For Monster's Ball, Halle Berry got so deep into playing her character that she was so far removed from who she is in real life.

Storm Halle Berry and Monster's Ball


  • Halle Berry gave an incredible gun-wrenching performance in 2001's Monster's Ball.
  • The role for which she won an Oscar, required her to be emotionally vulnerable and be real with her feelings.
  • Berry completely immersed herself in the role, so much so that she didn't recognize herself when she watched the film.
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Halle Berry has been a powerhouse performer who has confidently balanced her filmography with compelling character-driven dramas and entertaining studio blockbusters. Bulworth, and Introducing Dorothy Dandridge made everyone notice her acting chops, and she was cast as Storm in the Fox X-Men films.

Halle Berry as Nina in Bulworth | 20th Century Studios
Halle Berry as Nina in Bulworth | 20th Century Studios

Her peak acting moment came with 2001’s Monster’s Ball, directed by Marc Forster and her incredible performance led to an Oscar win for Best Actress. The complex human drama required the actress to channel her real emotions and be completely vulnerable in front of the camera. Berry was so committed to the tragic nature of the character that she did not recognize herself when she watched the film.

Halle Berry’s Emotional Transformation For Monster’s Ball Led To an Out-Of-Body Experience

Halle Berry plays a widow named Leticia Musgrove in Monster's Ball | Lionsgate Films
Halle Berry plays a widow named Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball | Lionsgate Films

After an Emmy-winning performance in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge and an amazing superhero role as Strom in X-Men, Halle Berry returned to indie dramas with 2001’s Monster’s Ball. The romantic drama also starred Heath Ledger and Billy Bob Thornton. It chronicles the romance that starts developing between Thornton and Berry, with both not knowing their dark connection.


Berry’s character is a widow whom Thornton’s character falls for, and to portray such a tragic character, the actress had to lay her emotions bare and be extremely vulnerable in real-time. She told BBC that it was essential for the film to have the needed emotional complexity and to portray flawed characters. Berry said,

Well, it was that kind of movie. It was about really servicing those characters and making them as flawed and as complicated as a human being is. Marc’s request of us as actors was to be real in the moment, not be afraid of the material, and not to worry about doing the politically correct thing.

Berry also pointed out the intense love-making scene between her and Thornton in the film as a necessary narrative element that signals the evolution of their characters, and not to titillate audiences. The actress and the role were so different from each other and thus she had an out-of-body experience while watching the film.

Despite committing deep into the skin of the character, she did not recognize the person on-screen. Berry said,


I like to call that scene the kiss of life, because from that moment on the choices that these characters made indelibly affected their life and made them able to have a better one. The scene wasn’t about s*xual titillation in any way.

Honestly, I had an out-of-body experience. I thought, ‘Wow, look at her!’ I never really connected it with myself, and I think that’s how I am able to look at it. The character was so far removed from who I am really. It’s the first time in any movie-making experience of mine that I was able to watch a film and not be able to really see me.

The film received rave reviews when it was released in 2001 and Berry’s performance was universally acclaimed. The film was also a hit, grossing $44 million against a $4 million budget (via Box Office Mojo). Berry won an Oscar for Best Actress for the role, becoming the first African-American actress to win in that category.

Despite Her Oscar Win, No One Was Lining Up To Work With Halle Berry

Hale Berry's Oscar win for Monster's Ball was historic one | Lionsgate Films
Halle Berry’s Oscar win for Monster’s Ball was a historic one | Lionsgate Films

Halle Berry won a Best Actress Oscar for her incredible performance in Monster’s Ball. Initially, the actress believed that everyone would now take her seriously and offer her interesting projects. However, nothing of that sort happened and she was still considered ‘just being a pretty face’.

In an interview with Variety, the actress recalled her naivety at the time believing that things would be easier and everyone would be lining up with their scripts to work with her. However, none of the top directors came to her and she was hit with the harsh reality: no one really cared about her win. Berry said,


I thought the script truck was going to back up to my door and dump them all off. That’s my naivete. I’ve got a historic win. Clearly, this is going to mean this struggle is going to be indelibly easier for me.

And that just didn’t happen. But within the industry, the big famous directors, no one called. My reality went back to normal, and I was still suffering from ‘just being a pretty face’.

As of 2024, Berry has 2 films ready for release. First, she will star in Netflix’s action comedy The Union opposite Mark Wahlberg, which will be released on August 16, 2024. The actress will then return to the big screen with the survival horror film Never Let Go, which will hit theatres on September 27, 2024.

Fans can watch Berry in Monster’s Ball on Prime Video. 


Written by Rahul Thokchom

Articles Published: 1121

Rahul Thokchom is a senior content writer at Fandomwire who is passionate about covering the world of pop culture and entertainment. He has a Masters Degree in English that contributes to the richness and creativity in his works.