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CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Profiles of Tom Cruise, Halle Berry
Aired December 6, 2003 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, he's a Tinseltown titan, an actor for whom no mission it impossible except perhaps one.
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LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: It seems very clear he very much wants an Oscar.
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ANNOUNCER: A public figure who cherishes his privacy.
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TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: No, I'm not going to discuss any of that.
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ANNOUNCER: And now, he's heating up the big screen with his latest film, "The Last Samurai."
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CRUISE: It took -- you know that was about 25 pounds of muscle that I put on for the film.
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ANNOUNCER: We go behind the persona, beneath the headlines.
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SARA SAFFIAN, SENIOR EDITOR, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": The rumor started circulating during Tom and Nicole's marriage.
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ANNOUNCER: Hollywood screen legend, Tom Cruise. Then, she's one of the most stunning women in the world. But beauty is taking a back seat to suspense in Halle Berry's new thriller.
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HALLE BERRY, ACTRESS: I love that part of what I do. I just sort of engulf myself in a character and go for the realism of that.
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ANNOUNCER: From struggling Hollywood upstart to Oscar's leading lady, she's broken barriers and beaten the odds. But for all her success on-screen, love and acceptance have proven elusive behind scenes.
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CHRISTOPHER JOHN FARLEY, AUTHOR, "INTRODUCING HALLE BERRY": When you look at Halle it's hard to believe there's that much pain in her background.
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ANNOUNCER: The personal pitfalls and professional triumphs of Halle Berry. Their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Tom Cruise is a superstar in every sense of the world with his multi-million dollar smile and down-to-earth charm; Cruise has become an industry onto himself. But this very public persona is a very private man. His latest project is "The Last Samurai". It is set in the Far East during the 19th century, a world a life away from where Cruise began. Here's Jim Moran.
JIM MORAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a truly Hollywood phenomenon, an icon who emerged from nowhere to become one of the biggest stars on the planet.
MICHAEL MUSTO, ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER, "THE VILLAGE VOICE": Tom Cruise is mega. I mean when you talk about old time movie stars like Bogie and Gary Cooper, and John Wayne, Tom is up there.
MORAN: With charisma to burn and that million-dollar smile, his films have grossed a staggering $2 billion.
ROZEN: Tom Cruise is the biggest movie star going right now. He has whatever that thing that is about a movie star that everyone who was watching him in some way identifies. Men would like to hang out with him. Women would like to have more private moments with him.
MORAN: Couple that with Tinseltown (INAUDIBLE), three Golden Globe wins, three Academy Award nods. Yet, one thing continues to elude the man famous for his Cruise control, a Golden statue by the name of Oscar.
ROZEN: I've never discussed this personally with Tom Cruise, but it seems pretty clear he very much wants an Oscar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom!
MUSTO: He's been nominated three times. He's never won. Meanwhile the ex-wife, Nicole, picked one up last year.
MORAN: This weekend, the 41-year-old gets one more stab, marking his 25th appearance on the big screen. The Cruise juggernaut continues with a sweeping Japanese epic, "The Last Samurai".
(on camera): Inevitably, it will come up perhaps for you as an actor with regards to Oscar. This is the one for Tom Cruise. How do you feel about ...
CRUISE: It's very flattering is how I feel about it. It's a flattering thing to be -- to hear, you know, that people were responding to the movie because you know, when you're starting a film, you go I don't know if this isn't -- you know how is this going to work? We don't know, but you know what, let's go. Let's go and give it a shot.
MORAN (voice-over): With fans spanning six continents and media interest at a constant fevered pitch, for two decades now, all eyes have been on Cruise. But few know the private tales beyond the public spectacle.
SAFFIAN: Challenged academically with the dyslexia, dealing with estrangement from an abusive father, growing up in a household with a single mother and struggling financially and helping to take care of his three sisters.
JESS CAGLE, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: A lot of Tom's success, I think, has been overcompensating for the unhappiness and the insecurity and feelings of being less than that he had growing up. Everything that makes Tom Cruise Tom Cruise goes back to his childhood.
MORAN: He was born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV on July 3, 1962 in Syracuse, New York. His mother was a teacher, his father an engineer.
ROBERT SELLERS, BIOGRAPHER: His father kept moving the family perpetually around the country as he looked for work. Tom's father was chasing a dream almost to become a millionaire, to make his fortune. Unfortunately, most of his moneymaking schemes tended to fail.
MORAN: From New Jersey to Indiana, from Kentucky to Missouri, by 11 years old, young Tom and his three sisters had lived in seven different homes.
MUSTO: He was constantly traveling and constantly uprooting himself.
SAFFIAN: He was constantly the nerdy new kid in class. That might be hard to believe.
MORAN: Adding to the complexity of new schools and short-lived friendships, there were problems in the classroom.
CAGLE: He could not read. He was diagnosed as being dyslexic. MORAN: There were also problems at home. His parents were drifting apart. By 1974, the nomadic Mapothers were living in Ottawa, Canada. Tom was 12 when they made the fateful announcement.
SELLERS: The whole family was asked to go into the front room and the news was told to them that their parents were separating.
MORAN: The divorce, however, would not end Tom's gypsy lifestyle. Leaving Canada, the family headed to Kentucky, two years later, Ohio. And by the time he was 14, he had attended 12 schools.
ANNE -MARIE O'NEILL, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: At one point in his schooling, he actually attended a seminary school.
CAGLE: I think Tom's stint in the seminary, he very seriously considered going that route -- was because it seemed like a safe place to go, in any same way that he always retreated back to his home, to his mother and his sisters. He retreated into this place.
MORAN: But in 1976, with one year of seminary school behind him, the running finally stopped. Security came in the form of Glen Ridge, New Jersey. And it was here; at 234 Washington Street that Thomas Cruise Mapother's destiny began to unfold.
SAFFIAN: He threw himself into sports primarily wrestling. And he succeeded in that until a pretty serious knee injury took him out of the sport.
MORAN: And into the theater. It was the senior class production of "Guys and Dolls". Urged by his teacher to try out he landed the role of Nathan Detroit.
SAFFIAN: Once Tom Cruise realized he had this interest in acting, he went for with it the gung- ho focus that is now seen as characteristic Cruise.
MORAN: Following graduation in July of 1980, he set off to New York. Eighteen years old, he left his family, lost his last name and within just five short months, Tom Cruise hit the big screen.
CAGLE: "Endless Love" was a very important thing for him. It was a very tiny role, but it was his first movie.
CRUISE: Did you ever try to light a whole pile of wet newspapers? Jesus, it smokes like crazy.
CAGLE: He proved to himself that he could charm or impress people like Franco Zeffirelli and get a job in the movies.
CRUISE: You better not tell her what I just told you either.
MORAN: Coming up, Hollywood's top gun and his Aussie ingenue.
O'NEIL: They were royalty in Hollywood. They were like the king and queen.
MORAN: But first, there's no business like "Risky Business".
MUSTO: And it became a gigantic run away hit largely because of Tom's Charm and his thighs.
ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Action!
MORAN (voice-over): Today, Tom Cruise is one of the most sought- after movie stars on the planet. But in the summer of 1981, just one month after his big screen debut, Cruise was still a virtual unknown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many people were up for the part that you got?
CRUISE: I don't know. Overall, it was like 7,000. So I guess...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you got it?
CRUISE: ...and I got it, yes.
MORAN: Four months later, Cruise' second film, the military drama, "Taps," was released.
MUSTO: "Taps" was an ensemble drama and Tom's part was beefed up a little bit when they realized how good he was.
MORAN: Originally cast as an extra, the director had been impressed with Cruise's boot camp antics, bumping the 19-year-old to a supporting role.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charlie!
CRUISE: It's beautiful, man.
MORAN: One year later, Cruise continued his march onto the big screen. Four films in 12 months. His 1983 reviews were mixed. There was the good.
CRUISE: Hey, tell me, Ponyboy, what's it like being a hero?
CAGLE: "The Outsiders" was important to Tom Cruise because it put him in a league of actors to watch.
MORAN: There was the bad.
CAGLE: "Losing It" was a disposable Hollywood comedy that didn't do much for anybody's career.
MORAN: And there was the extraordinary.
ROZEN: "Risky Business" was the movie that made Tom Cruise a star and that was it.
CAGLE: It was such a brilliantly staged moment. You see the blank hallway, and suddenly that music starts, that great Seger music. And then he slides into the scene. He was rebellious and he was charming, and he was troubled. He danced in his underwear, and he was Tom Cruise.
MORAN: Teen audiences couldn't get enough. Overnight the 21- year-old was Hollywood's most wanted. A string of high profile romances followed. Rebecca De Mornay, Heather Locklear, Melissa Gilbert, even a brief fling with a pop icon. But in 1984, Cruise sustained a personal set back; his estranged father was diagnosed with cancer.
SAFFIAN: By the time he died in 1984, he and Tom had reconciled and Tom has talked about that being very important to him, to have that kind of closure.
MORAN: At peace with his father, in 1986, Tom Cruise emerged at the top of his game.
ROZEN: "Top Gun" was the movie that absolutely solidified him as the leading man of the '80s.
MUSTO: It had a hit soundtrack. Just everything about it seemed like a well-oiled machine that was hoisted on the masses. And they ate it up.
MORAN: And not only did audiences fall under his spell so did actress, Mimi Rogers, six years his senior. Come May 9, 1987, the 25- year-old secretly wed.
CAGLE: The relationship with Mimi Rogers was really important for one thing. And that was Mimi Rogers was a scientologist.
MUSTO: Years later, in 1990, he claimed that scientology cured him of the dyslexia, which is interesting and made we want to join.
MORAN: The honeymoon, however, would not last long. By 1989, tabloids began to take interest in the marriage. Cruise would later blame their impending split on his hectic schedule.
MIMI ROGERS, FORMER WIFE: They're shooting today like any other day so he couldn't be there.
MORAN: By now, Cruise was shooting with the biggest names in the business, Paul Newman in "The Color of Money," Dustin Hoffman in "Rainman." Both Newman and Hoffman took home Oscars. Cruise got his own shot in 1989.
MUSTO: From the second Tom decided he wanted to be an actor; he really wanted that brass ring and grasped at it possibly harder than anybody in movie history. Some people say he worked too hard at it.
CRUISE: People say if you don't love America, then get the hell out.
MUSTO: But finally with "Born on The Fourth of July," Tom gets his own showcase, got his first Oscar nomination and really opened a lot of eyes in Hollywood.
CRUISE: Hey! Hey!
MORAN: The ride had just begun. His next film, "Days of Thunder" and the fateful meeting with a red-haired Aussie was moments away.
SELLERS: The first time he ever laid eyes on Nicole Kidman was on the cinema screen. He had been invited to a private screening of "Dead Calm". And at the time, he was casting "Days of Thunder" and said, "Who is she? I want to -- let's find out who she is, where she is, let's get her over here and test her for the movie."
MORAN: It was at this audition that seemingly lightning struck and thunder rolled.
SELLERS: It was instant, mutual attraction.
MORAN: By January 1990, Cruise finalized his divorce from Rogers. By December 1990, Cruise and Kidman were husband and wife.
NICOLE KIDMAN, FORMER WIFE: Tom says, "We're always gong to be on our honeymoon for the rest of our lives." It's nice to have a husband that says that.
MORAN: Next, the Hollywood fairytale comes to a startling end.
SAFFIAN: The announcement that Cruise was filing for divorce right on the heels of the announcement of the separation was a shock and a shock to Nicole as well.
MORAN: And later, one-on-one with the star of "The Last Samurai".
CRUISE: I couldn't even bend past here, you know, when I started out. I'm like oh, man, you know, how am I going to lift these swords?
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
MORAN (voice-over): By the early '90s, Tom Cruise and his bride, Nicole Kidman, were the toast of the town. Everywhere they went, swarms of paparazzi followed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watch your back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm crossing the street.
MORAN: It was right about this time that Tom went into Cruise control.
SAFFIAN: Cruise definitely is a man who wants control whether it's a percentage of the profits of his movie, or creative control on the set, or control with the media, where in an interview he'll tell you exactly what he feels like divulging and nothing more.
MUSTO: And that's actually very smart. That's the good way to survive in Hollywood. You don't have to reveal everything about yourself to remain a big star.
MORAN: By May 1992, Cruise was as big a star as they come, so much so the disastrous epic, "Far and Away" did little to diminish his clout.
CRUISE: I'm Joseph Donnelly of the Family Donnelly.
MUSTO: "Far and Away" was a bit of a stinker. It was just like an overblown Irish epic with a lot of blarney to it. It was sort of like a feature-length Irish Spring commercial.
CRUISE: Your Honor, these are the tower chief's logs.
MORAN: Just months later, a military drama would be the first of a string of box office hits.
JACK NICHOLSON, ACTOR: You want answers!
CRUISE: I want the truth!
NICHOLSON: You can't handle the truth!
MUSTO: "A Few Good Man" restored some credibility to Tom's career, so he was back on track.
MORAN: And cemented in Hollywood history.
In January 1993, the Cruise Kidman's added an adopted daughter to the mix. Two years later, a son. But by May 1996, everyone was talking about Cruise' latest. His mission, the remake of a 1960s TV classic, the result, one monster of a payday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.
MUSTO: Tom Cruise is about as wealthy as wealthy gets nowadays. And he's smart enough when he negotiates to do a movie not just to get a flat fee, which would usually amount to like $25 million, not pocket change exactly, but often he'll negotiate for points in the movie. So for "Mission Impossible I", he made 70 million. For "Mission Impossible II", 75 million.
CRUISE: Show me the money! MORAN: In December 1996, another huge hit.
CRUISE: Fine! Fine! Fine!
ROZEN: I thought Tom Cruise' performance in a "Jerry Maguire" was among the best he has given. You just saw him loosen up on-screen in a way you haven't. There was a kind of humor. There was also a desperate edge that just hadn't been there before.
MORAN: That 1996 role brought his second Academy Award nomination. But his Cruise control was about to be tested.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will kindly remove your mask.
SAFFIAN: The production of "Eyes Wide Shut," which was Stanley Cooper 's final film was very mysterious. It was very shrouded. It took years for them to complete.
ROZEN: There was enormous publicity. They put out this incredible trailer for the movie and it was just like hot, hot, hot, and had the promise of major movie stars, Tom and Nicole, naked, naked, naked. Then the movie opens and it is like the most boring thing you've ever seen and you just go Lord, if that's what an orgy is like, I'm so glad I've never been to one.
MORAN: Smiling through the brutal buzz, the duo promoted the film in July 1999.
KIDMAN: You know it's been wonderful three years.
MORAN: As always, all eyes were on them, which made the announcement even more shocking. In February 2001, just two months after the couple had grandly celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary, publicists announced a joint separation. Three days later, Cruise filed for divorce.
O'NEILL: Why did Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman break up? It's a burning question still, and it's something that everyone wants to know.
MORAN: Tabloids, newspapers, rumors ran rampant. And as the buzz built, Cruise wouldn't budge.
CRUISE: No, I'm not going to discuss any of that. That's between Nic and I, and forever, I will never discuss that ever.
SAFFIAN: The rumors started circulated a bit during Tom and Nicole's marriage and then they definitely heated up when the separation and the divorce took place. There had been rumors that Tom was gay. There were rumors that she was very cautious about scientology.
MORAN: Both rumors Cruise emphatically denied. Twice in 2001, he filed suit and won against individuals questioning his sexuality. There were also rumors about Cruise's possible involvement with actress, Penelope Cruz, a friendship that began on the set of 2001's "Vanilla Sky" and quickly moved to romance following the divorce.
CAGLE: Tom and Penelope are another mysterious couple in that we're always speculating on them.
MUSTO: You're always reading, you know, "Tom and Penelope are apart. They haven't shown up together in a while." Blah, blah, blah.
MORAN: Fast forward two years later, the Cruise-Cruz relationship continues just as the Kidman-Cruise intrigue lives on.
(on camera): I turn on my computer this morning, headlines in Asia, headlines in London quoting you, "I love Nic and I always will."
CRUISE: I've said that always right from the beginning. I was very honest about that, you know. That doesn't mean we're going to be back together, you know, but we'll be friends. I will always be her friend, always.
MORAN (voice-over): And in December 2003, following more than a year of strenuous physical and mental training, Tom hits the silver screen once again in the epic, "The Last Samurai".
CRUISE: I couldn't even bend past here, you know, when I started and I go, oh, man, you know. How am I going to lift these swords? What are we going to do? And there's sequences we shot from the beginning to the end...
MORAN (on camera): And there's no faking it?
CRUISE: No, we did it. We did it because that's where you'd need it. And it needed that for the character and for me to make that journey.
MORAN (voice-over): At 41 years old, some say "The Last Samurai" could be the end of Cruise' long journey. The million-dollar smile is gone replaced by a quiet performance that could garner the Oscar that has eluded him for so many years.
(on camera): What surprised you the most in making this film that you come away with and would say, "This is what I'm most proud of?"
CRUISE: I'm proud of the humanity in the picture. I'm proud of definitely many aspects in the scope of the film that we even accomplished it, that they even let us make the movie.
MORAN: Do you feel that you've paid a price in any way for achieving your dream?
CRUISE: No, I've been rewarded with a great generosity from many people. It's also I love what I do. I take great pride in what I do.
ZAHN: Tom Cruise goes from hero to villain. In his next movie, he plays a contract killer in "Collateral," which is filming now. ANNOUNCER: Coming up, she's bold, she's beautiful, and she's on her own again.
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CAGLE: It is mind-boggling to me, that somebody could be unfaithful to Halle Berry.
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ANNOUNCER: A new movie and another heartbreak for Hollywood survivor, Halle Berry when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues.
ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. It's hard to name a more glamorous star than Halle Berry. But the Academy Award winning actress is much more than just a pretty face. Time and again, Berry has proven herself on screen and off, facing heartache and hurdles she could never have imagined. For Berry, success always seems to come with a tinge of sadness. Here's Daryn Kagan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Halle!
KAGAN: Halle Berry is the rarest of Hollywood celebrity, a stunning mixture of glamour, beauty, and Oscar winning ability.
BERRY: It's a great night. I never thought it would be possible in my lifetime.
KAGAN: And what a time it's been since Berry took home Oscar, a time of personal lows and professional highs. On screen, she has battled evil mutants in "XMEN II..."
KAGAN: ...and matched wits with James Bond in "Die Another Day." Now, she's searching for her sanity in the new supernatural thriller, "Gothika". It's a horror film of sorts, one that requires Berry to lose her famous fashion sense and her Cover Girl looks, a sacrifice she was all too willing to make.
BERRY: I love that part of what I do, you know. And I just sort of engulf myself in the character and go for the realism of that. I -- it's really cathartic to be able to do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Action!
KAGAN: Berry may have found her role in "Gothika" to cathartic, but it was also difficult. During the filming of one emotional charged scene with co-star, Robert Downey Jr., the actress broke her arm.
BERRY: There's a scene early on in the movie when Robert Downey is coming to tell me what I've done and why I'm in this institution. And we're struggling with each other and he just grabs it the wrong way and it just breaks.
KAGAN: Berry's drive, her talent and her good fortune have made her one of most recognizable stars in the world. But Halle Berry's story isn't just one of great fame. It's also a study in law, in pain, from childhood to her recent separation from husband number two, Eric Benet.
CAGLE: Halle has always been really gracious about not spelling out in the press what Eric's problems were. Her and her people close to her have definitely said that there was infidelity.
FARLEY: When we look at Halle, it's hard to believe there's that much pain in her background. I mean she's got the beautiful smile, the beautiful skin, the beautiful attitude. She's nothing but friendly and applicable to anyone that's ever met her. But she does have this core of pain that goes back to her father.
KAGAN: Halle Berry was born in 1966. She was named after a hometown department store in Cleveland, Ohio. At the time, John F. Kennedy had already been assassinated. Martin Luther King Jr. was about to be. And Berry's childhood was as turbulent as the times.
O'NEILL: Halle Berry had it rough growing up. Her father, she says, was an abusive alcoholic. He left the family when she was four.
KAGAN: The youngest daughter of a white mother and a black father, Berry also struggled early on with the ugliness of racism.
FARRELL: Her father left and her mom sat her down and said, "Listen, you're black. You're being raised by a white mother, but you're black. People are going to treat you that way. You think of yourself that way and life will be easier for you."
KAGAN: But little was easy in Cleveland during the late 60's and 70's for a young person of mixed race.
FARRELL: She originally attended some -- mostly black schools in the city. And she found that black girls would make fun of her for looking partly white. And then, when she moved out to the suburbs, she found that white girls would make fun of her for looking partly black. It's almost as if she couldn't win.
KAGAN: Berry internalized much of her struggle with discrimination and her need for acceptance fueled an intense desire to succeed.
FARRELL: Halle wanted to be loved because she felt this pull from both sides. That made her a joiner. And she became a cheerleader and she was good at that. She ran for class president. She was good at that. Then she wanted to become prom queen, too and she ran for that. And she seemingly won, but then there was some sort of difficulty and they had a meeting and they said oh, actually, it was a tie and a white girl has tied with you. And they had a coin flip that Halle won but she felt suspicious of that. KAGAN: After high school, the young woman who had always thought to play down the color of her skin turned to the most image-driven of affairs, beauty pageants.
O'NEILL: She was a beauty queen and she has attributed that with how she managed to overcome like difficult times she had had with being treated with discrimination and this was a way to make her stand up and say, "No, you know, I'm beautiful whatever you say."
KAGAN: Berry's pageant life took her from Cleveland to Chicago, a big city with big hurdles, bad roommates and bitter lessons.
FARRELL: One of her roommates kind of skipped out without paying the more than $1,000 worth of rent that was owed. And Halle didn't know what to do. She didn't have the money to pay for it. So she calls her mom, Judith, and Judith said, "Listen, you want to make it in the big city, you want to be a success, you've got to deal with this on your own." And Halle didn't understand it at first but it helped her. It helped her to be self-sufficient.
KAGAN: With no safety net and no one to bail her out, Halle Berry risked it all, trading her tiara for the uncertainty of acting.
When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Halle Berry fights for her first big break in "Jungle Fever" and falls hard for the wrong man.
FARRELL: One thing people can learn from Halle Berry's relationship with David Justice is if you don't like baseball, then don't marry a baseball player.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
KAGAN (voice-over): Halle Berry began her career onstage as a beauty queen, eventually becoming first runner-up in the 1985 Miss U.S.A. competition.
FARRELL: Lauren Bacall once said that stardom isn't a profession, it's an accident. And the same is really true of Halle Berry's path to stardom. She really got into being a beauty queen quite by accident. She needed money.
KAGAN: Although she was known as terrific competitor, Berry wouldn't remain on the pageant circuit for long. She had bigger plans. She was going to be an actress.
In 1999, Berry landed a part in the television sitcom, "Living Dolls." It was her first big job. She was on her way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you working on?
BERRY: Finding properties of hyper kinetic complex molecules.
KAGAN: And then, the lights went out. While filming an episode of "Living Dolls," Berry collapsed. No one knew what was wrong. Doctors were consulted and Berry was eventually informed that she had diabetes. Adding to her stress, "Living Dolls" was canceled after only a few weeks on the air. For Berry, it seemed grim but she actually was about to step into the right place at the right time.
FARRELL: When Halle Berry really was sort of coming of age as a star in Hollywood, there were people like the Hughes brothers, Spike Lee, Robert Townsend, directors who had a vision for blacks on screen.
KAGAN: Ironically, director, Spike Lee's vision for Halle Berry almost cost the young actress her break into film. Lee didn't think Berry was right to play Samuel L. Jackson's drug-addicted girlfriend in "Jungle Fever." He thought she was too beautiful.
SAMUEL L. JACKSON, ACTOR: I want you all to meet my new woman, Viv.
KAGAN: But Berry was out to prove that she was more than just a pretty face. She stopped bathing for several days to prepare for the gritty role and eventually won Lee over.
KAGAN: Critical praise for "Jungle Fever" led to more substantial roles for Berry, including a starring term in 1995's "Losing Isaiah."
BERRY: If you think you're just going walk up in this court and take my baby like you take some puppy from a pound, you got another thing coming, lady.
KAGAN: And later, opposite Hollywood legend, Warren Beatty in "Bulworth." Although Berry was dazzling critics in 1990s, she was becoming better known to the public as a Cover Girl.
O'NEILL: Then there came a time where she was really known as the face of Revlon. She was wearing beautiful gowns to all of the performances and award shows and became known more as Halle Berry beauty queen.
KAGAN: Whatever her professional image, Berry's career was definitely on the rise. Her private life, however, was another matter.
O'NEILL: Halle Berry has not had as much luck in love as she has had in her career. She started off badly. She talked about a former boyfriend who beat her so hard that she ended up deaf in one hear or 80 percent deaf in one ear.
KAGAN: But it was Berry's disastrous marriage to baseball player, David Justice, that really ushered in a dark period in the actress's life. FARRELL: One thing people can learn from Halle Berry's relationship with David Justice is if you don't like baseball, you know, don't marry a baseball player. She never really liked baseball.
BERRY: It wasn't the life for me. You know what I mean. To some people, it's a great life. It wasn't something that I found a lot of happiness with.
KAGAN: Berry's split with Justice was very tense and very messy.
FARRELL: Halle Berry had him served with divorce papers, you know, between the fifth and sixth innings of a Padre's game. That's not a good way to sort of make friends with someone who's going to be -- soon to be your ex.
O'NEILL: All kinds of accusations have flown on both sides of her marriage with David Justice. She had accused him in print of sleeping with prostitutes, strippers. He's accused her of all kinds of things as well. And she put a restraining order against him. It was messy. It was really nasty on both sides.
KAGAN: The divorce took an enormous toll on Berry.
BERRY: I was a woman who grew up with that fantasy that was, you know, pushed down my throat -- you have to find your prince and he will take care of you and that will be happiness. My sense of self and my self-worth was totally connected to him, so when he left, I felt like nothing.
KAGAN: Filled with a sense of failure and questioning her own worth, Halle Berry seriously considered ending her own life.
BERRY: When I was in that moment and sitting in the car -- I was going to asphyxiate myself in a garage. When I was sitting there really with all my heart wanting to end my life, I thought of my mother and I thought wow, how unfair. I would break her heart. My heart's broken and I'm going to kill myself. I would break her heart. I would break her heart.
KAGAN: Berry also became to realize that suicide would be a cowardly act. She'd be walking out on her family, her fans, herself. Berry decided to take more control over her life and her career.
In 1999, Berry released her most personal film to date, HBO's "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge." The film followed the life of the first black woman ever nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award and her struggle in 1950's Hollywood.
FARRELL: She had a personal connection to Dorothy Dandridge. Halle Berry was born in the same hospital in Cleveland as Dorothy Dandridge was. When she was a kid, she first saw Dorothy Dandridge on screen in the movie, "Carmen Jones," and it shocked her. She'd never seen a black woman like that on screen.
KAGAN: Berry fought hard to bring her vision of Dandridge's life to television. When HBO refused to increase the film's budget, Berry dug into her own pocket.
FARRELL: One scene she thought was key was a scene that showed Dorothy Dandridge and her sister arriving for the Oscars. And Halle Berry felt it was necessary, necessary to sort of show their joy, show their moment of triumph. And so, she paid for the whole day of shooting out of her own pocket.
KAGAN: Berry won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Dorothy Dandridge, but her success would soon be overshadowed by controversy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The People versus Halle Marie Berry.
KAGAN: That story when our look at Halle Berry continues.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
BERRY: Thank you, Bob.
KAGAN (voice-over): Halle Berry found new life in playing Dorothy Dandridge. The accolades rolled in. Her career had reached a new level. Things were finally looking up, but the moment was short- lived. Berry would soon learn the price of her celebrity. In 2000, Berry was indicted for leaving the scene of a car accident.
FARRELL: Halle had been hanging out with a friend, eating chips, drinking diet cola, was driving home in West Hollywood in a rented car, went through an intersection, and ran into another car.
KAGAN: Berry suffered a head injury in the accident. To this day, she says she doesn't remember the crash, and can't explain why she left. In the midst of this very public turmoil, Berry would found solace in the arms of R&B singer, Eric Benet. The couple quietly married in 2001.
O'NEILL: Halle has said that Eric Benet had a lot to do with how her life has turned around. She spends a lot of time with his daughter, India.
KAGAN: By 2001, Halle Berry had a new man, a new family and she was looking for her next challenge. She found it in a project called "Monster's Ball".
BERRY: From the movement I read the script, I thought, I've got to play this. And never thinking it would bring awards. I really thought what it would do would bring credibility to my body of work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You looking for Hank?
BERRY: Yes. KAGAN: However surprising it might seem now, Halle Berry had to put up a monster fight to win her role in "Monster's Ball". The filmmakers just couldn't see Berry in this racially charged drama. She didn't fit their idea of Leticia, a poor death row widow who falls in love with her husband's executioner.
FARRELL: So Halle shows up to meet Lee Daniels, the producer of "Monster's Ball" and they get to talking and they get to arguing. She began to deliver her argumentative lines in the same cadence the character would. And so Lee Daniels saw the character on the page come to life before his eyes, arguing with him and it won him over.
BERRY: My name is Leticia Musgrove.
KAGAN: For her performance in "Monster's Ball," Halle Berry was nominated for an Oscar. Life was about to imitate art. Just like her scene from "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," Berry was about to walk down the red carpet, a black woman who had defied the odds to become a Best Actress nominee. And Berry thought, just like Dandridge, she wouldn't win. She didn't even write an acceptance speech.
BERRY: The night before, I had an Oscar party and Oprah Winfrey came and she sad to me -- her last words to me, "Girl, write a speech." And I said, "Oprah, I don't need to write" -- she said, "Write a speech." So I went home and I thought about it. And I thought I'm not going to write a speech. I'm really not going need a speech.
KAGAN: But Berry did need a speech. She not only walked down the red carpet at the Oscars, she walked into history, becoming the first African-American woman to win the award for Best Actress. Though Berry was nearly speechless when her name was first announced, she did eventually find her voice and she spoke for nearly three minutes, a lifetime at the Oscars.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I also liked the moment when they were trying to shoe you off the stage and you said, "74 years."
BERRY: I saw that sign and I'm thinking, wait a minute, 74 years. So I didn't want to be too indulgent, but I did have to thank, you know, some of those people.
KAGAN: A big win in what should have been Halle Berry's best year. She had an Oscar in hand and a starring role in the latest James Bond thriller.
KAGAN: Almost as soon as Berry started filming, reports began to surface that her marriage to Eric Benet was in trouble. For months, Berry remained quiet about her family life, about her husband.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Action!
KAGAN: And then as "Die Another Day" was about to premiere, a bombshell confession. Berry confirmed to "Essence" magazine that her marriage was in jeopardy saying -- quote -- "The truth is that during the period of my most significant public success, the Academy Awards, my private life faced a staggering crisis." Without touching on specifics, Berry went on to say that "all romantic relationships suffer crises. No woman alive can claim otherwise." Berry announced she and Benet had entered psychotherapy and they were working to salvage their marriage and that she wasn't giving up. Berry struggled to rebuild her troubled marriage for more than a year. Eventually, however, enough was enough. In October, she officially separated from Eric Benet.
CAGLE: In the case of Eric Benet, it was not marked by violence. And he actually seems to be a nice guy, so that's good. But she also was not willing to overlook the infidelity, which happens, for sure, and ultimately decided to take charge and get out of it.
KAGAN: Despite the split from her second husband, Berry remains extremely committed to her relationship with Benet's daughter, India. The two continue to share frequent visits.
As for love, Berry says she's not sure if she'll ever marry again. She's upbeat about the future though, philosophical about the past, and seemingly content with going solo at least for now.
BERRY: Nobody has a perfect life. There's no such thing, you know. And it's about this journey that we're on. So I'm on a great journey. I'm alive and well. I'm healthy, so live is good.
KAGAN: Halle Berry's journey so far has been one of extremes, from the pain of heartache to the joy of Hollywood's highest honor. Good, bad, up, down, for Berry, the challenge has always brought its risks and rewards.
BERRY: I didn't' get that beautiful statue by having any limitations put on me, you know, being afraid to take risks and "Monsters Ball" was the ritziest movie I've done and look what it garnered. So I want to keep taking risks and trying new things. Some will work, some will not.
ZAHN: Halle Berry is now working on the big screen premiere of "Cat Woman," a spin-off to from the Batman franchise that's due out next year.
That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us. Hope you'll be back with us next week.
ANNOUNCER: For more celebrity news, pick up a copy of "People" magazine this week.
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