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Profiles of Halle Berry, Tom Hanks

Aired February 26, 2005 - 17:00   ET


ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon. I'm Andrea Koppel. "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" is coming up in just a moment, but first, here's what's happening now in the news.
Police in Wichita, Kansas, are preparing to file eight counts of first-degree murder and two other homicide charges against Dennis Rader. They say he's the so-called BTK serial killer who terrorized the city for decades. The initials stand for "Bind them, torture them, and kill them." Rader was arrested during a routine traffic stop yesterday.

Searchers in Florida are looking for a missing nine-year-old girl. Jessica Marie Lunsford disappeared from her home about 60 miles north of Tampa sometime after going to bed Wednesday night. Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Hampton is from the same area and still has a home there. He is offering a $25,000 reward for information about Lunsford's whereabouts.

Israel's defense minister says Syria and the militant group Islamic Jihad are believed responsible for last night's bombing in Tel Aviv. Four people died in the attack. Sixty-five others were injured. The renewed violence puts on hold plans to transfer Palestinian towns from Israeli control to Palestinian Authority control.

It was a dozen years ago that the first terrorist attack happened at the World Trade Center. Today, they're unveiling a new memorial honoring the victims of that 1993 bombing. Details on the dedication coming up at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

More headlines at the half hour.

Stay tuned for "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS."


ANNOUNCER (voice-over): Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS...

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: Those must be comfortable shoes.

ANNOUNCER: ... whether he's sitting on a bench or storming the beaches of Normandy, Tom Hanks always makes a giant "Splash" on the big screen.

STEVEN SPIELBERG, DIRECTOR: There's a bonding thing that happens. The audience is imprint on him. And they say, "I could be this guy." Paula Zahn sits down with the two-time Oscar winner for a glimpse at life on- and off-camera.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: You have been quite open over the years about your childhood being tough.

HANKS: A state of confusion is not the best way in order to live one's childhood.

ANNOUNCER: Screen legend, Tom Hanks.

She's one of the most stunning women in the world, but Halle Berry is more than just beauty.

HALLE BERRY, ACTOR: I didn't get that youth that you -- by having any limitations put on me or being afraid to take risks.

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 the scenes.

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.

ANNOUNCER: The personal pitfalls and professional triumphs of Halle Berry.

Their stories and more, now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.


ZAHN: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn.

He's Hollywood's golden boy, Tom Hanks. And this weekend he'll be one of the top presenters during Tinseltown's biggest night at the Academy Awards. Hanks has been become synonymous with the Oscars and with blockbusters.

Whether it's comedy, romance or drama, he's one of the most sought-after stars in the world.


ZAHN (voice-over): He is, without a doubt, one of Hollywood's most beloved, most powerful and most acclaimed.


HANKS: I have to pee.

CASTRO: You want to put out a great comedy, get Tom Hanks. You want to put out a great romantic comedy, get Tom Hanks. Hey, how about a great drama or a great bad guy? Oh, I know, Tom Hanks. I mean, there's nothing he can't do.

ZAHN: Thirty-nine films, four Golden Globes, five Oscar nods, two historic back-to-back Academy Awards. And yet at 48 years old, Tom Hanks is Tinseltown's quintessential Mr. Nice Guy with a reputation as stellar as his box-office clout.

(on-screen): So given how volatile your industry is, in spite of the enormous professional success you've had, the enormous financial success, is there a part of you that can never get comfortable?

HANKS: Oh, no, I'm comfortable.

ZAHN: You're comfortable. Not that it would all go away.

HANKS: No, no, no. Let me put it this way...

ZAHN: Is there a part of you that can't get completely secure with this?

HANKS: No, I can be secure. I can be content. But I'm restless by nature. I don't think that -- here's what I discovered a while ago. I'm an actor by nature. I can't imagine a world in which I'm not taking part in telling these stories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if there was a place beyond your imagination?

ZAHN (voice-over): Now the storyteller's latest work...

HANKS: All aboard!

ZAHN: ... is a state-of-the-art motion picture.

HANKS: Well, are you coming?


HANKS: Why, to the North Pole, of course. This is the Polar Express.

ZAHN: It's a heartwarming tale about the power of belief, much like the life of the man behind the magic of "Polar Express."

He was born Thomas Jeffrey Hanks on July 9, 1956, in the small town of Concord, California. By the time he was five, his parents, Amos and Janet Hanks, had divorced. Both would marry and remarry multiple times.

(on-screen): You have been quite open about years about your childhood being tough. And at one point you told one of my reporters at the times it was though you were running from one home to another, and sort of running away from anything that was consistent in your life. It must have been tough.

HANKS: Well, it was. But I knew that it wasn't abusive. The worst thing I could say about my growing up was that it was confusing. You know, we had the over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go, we had that. It's just the difference was we were on a Greyhound bus by ourselves going over the river to grandmother's house.

ZAHN (voice-over): By high school, Hanks the performer began to emerge. The teen was named class cutup and won best actor for his work in the musical, "South Pacific." But it was a tragedy, Eugene O'Neill's barroom classic "The Iceman Cometh," that was Hanks' defining moment. He had gone to see the play at Berkeley's Repertory Theater. He came out enthralled. Tom Hanks was hooked.

HANKS: It literally popped my eyes open to think that, wait, there is people that do this? This is what they do, not just for a living, for their life? This is the way they spend their time?

ZAHN: A year later, the budding thespian was building sets for the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in Cleveland. Three seasons playing minor roles gave Hanks his equity card and desire to give New York to try. Headed east with him, his first wife, Samantha Lewes.

CASTRO: A lot of people don't know that Tom Hanks was married before. He met someone in the '70s while he was struggling as an actor. And then they moved to Hell's Kitchen in New York. It was a walk-up tenement with roaches the size of little poodles. And it was really, really tough-going.

ZAHN: One year later in 1980, Hanks got his first break, landing a role in the low-budget slasher film, "He Knows You're Alone."

HANKS: Why, after seeing "Psycho," were so many people afraid to take showers?

I read something off a piece of paper. A guy looks up from the desk and says, "You're going to be in a movie." That was $800, but it was a big deal.

From there, I got on the television show.

SPIELBERG: Well, the first time I saw Tom, I guess was "Bosom Buddies." You know, I thought he was kind of a contortion artist. He was doing these weird things with his head all the time, the Tom Hanks early moves from TV. He was just this total funny, comedy guy.

ZAHN: The gender-bending sitcom with co-star Peter Scolari lasted two seasons. What followed was unemployment checks and sporadic TV work. On "Family Ties," Hanks was an unlucky corporate whiz kid. On "Happy Days," an explosive classmate of the Fonz.

But those "Happy Days" would pay off. Director Ron Howard, who starred in the sitcom, remembered Hanks and invited him to read for a supporting role in his upcoming film, "Splash." But following this audition tape the job went to John Candy.

HANKS: Barbara, Liza.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madison. I like Madison.

HANKS: Madison is not a name.

ZAHN: Instead, Howard tapped Hanks for the lead.

RON HOWARD, DIRECTOR: He wasn't a movie star, but he was, you know, he was just so gifted. He came in, he auditioned, and he won the role.

ZAHN: On March 6, 1984, "Splash" washed ashore. The $9 million boy-meet-fish love story quickly grossed more than $60 million. Tom Hanks had finally found his home.

Coming up, from "Big" to bust: Hanks on one of Hollywood's biggest bonfires.

HANKS: "Bonfire of the Vanities" was such a disaster they wrote books about why it was a disaster.



ZAHN (voice-over): In 1988, Tom Hanks was hitting all the right notes with his performance in "Big." Hanks was endearing as a young boy trapped in a man's body.

LEAH ROZEN, FILM CRITIC, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: "Big" was Hanks' first blockbuster movie. It was the film that absolutely put him on the map as one of Hollywood's leading men.

ZAHN (on-screen): When you look back on your career -- and it wasn't all that long ago that you were actually living in Hell's Kitchen, sort of a tenement building...

HANKS: Still over there.

ZAHN: ... you struggled for many years as a young actor.

HANKS: Well, I was very, very lucky that, at a very early age and after not too long of being a professional, I could pay my bills. So right there, I had this huge burden on my life taken away from me simply because I could afford to live. I could afford to only be an actor.

ZAHN: For Hanks, "Big" was big. It garnered him his first Academy Award nomination.

HANKS: I had never been to the Oscars before, so this was like the senior prom on acid.

ZAHN: 1988 also proved a big year for Hanks personally. After his first marriage ended in 1987, Hanks married actor and producer Rita Wilson. He first met Wilson when she starred as his love interest in the 1985 film, "Volunteers."


HANKS: Move this log and I'll sleep with each one of you.

ZAHN: Hanks says it's Wilson who made him the man and the star he is today.

WILSON: I think he looks like Roy Orbison.

HANKS: And I think you look like a pretty woman. My wife is amazing, is she not?

ZAHN: Family life is important to you, isn't it?


ZAHN: Your kids are everything and your lovely wife.

HANKS: Well, my lovely wife, Rita Wilson, she's a magnificent catch, I must say.

Look, it's the only thing that's really important in this world. This is what I do for a living, and I like it a lot. But that's got nothing to do with how that happens. And I think I do a pretty good job of balancing the public moments and the private moments because they don't mix, period, the end. They simply don't. It's a job on one hand, but it's a life on the other. And hopefully I'll be a grandfather some time with kids who want to come around and hang out at Papoo's house.

ZAHN: After his big Academy Award nomination, Hanks seemed headed for superstardom. His career suddenly stalled. Falling flat, the now classic cable viewing, "Turner and Hooch," "Joe Versus the Volcano," and the box-office flop, "Bonfire of the Vanities."

ROZEN: It was just one of those movies that wasn't going to work, no way, no how, died an ignominious death. And if you pull it out on video to go, "Maybe it's not as bad as I thought it was," it turns out to be just as bad as you thought it was.

ZAHN (on-screen): What does that do to your sense of security?

HANKS: Very little. Look, the truth is, Paula, every movie is a crapshoot. Anytime you're going to take money in order to go off and say, "We're going to entertain you for two hours," you run the risk of disaster. And sometimes they have been disastrous. I mean, I've had my share. You know, I made a movie, "Bonfire of the vanities," that it was such a disaster they wrote books about why it was a disaster.

ZAHN: I actually liked that movie, Tom. What does that tell you about my taste in movies?

HANKS: Well, then there you go. There's nothing wrong -- well, it was a Tom Hanks picture, you know, so it had a lot going for it.

ZAHN: Just as it seemed the actor was about to strike out, Hanks managed to hit one out of the park with "A League of Their Own." HANKS: All right, all right, time for the song and dance.

ZAHN: Hanks, a big Cleveland Indians fan, played the washed-up tobacco-chewing manager as if a pennant depended on it.

HANKS: Are you crying? There's no crying. There's no crying in baseball!

ZAHN: Hanks' star was once again on the rise, but it was his next picture that would showcase his range and versatility.

HANKS: You are worried we don't have very much time left, aren't you?

ZAHN: In the 1993 film, "Philadelphia," the deadly serious Hanks surprised both audiences and critics.

CASTRO: With "Philadelphia," it was the first hint that this guy is really special. We're working with something, you know, extremely rare.

ZAHN: "Philadelphia" gave Hanks his first Oscar win.

(on-screen): How much of a validation was your first Oscar award?

HANKS: It's a huge deal for a couple weeks to the world, but it's a much, much bigger deal to your kids that are out in the audience, or your friends that you went to high school with, or your mom that's sitting down with you in the thing, that's where the big deal is.

I've always described it as a very personal moment that plays itself out in front of three billion people.

ZAHN (voice-over): A year later, Hanks introduced America to an unlikely hero...

HANKS: You want a chocolate?

ZAHN: ... Forrest Gump. The movie turned into one of the biggest hits of 1994 and led to a nearly unprecedented honor.

HANKS: There was no way to describe what the story was. As you read it, it read faster and faster and faster. And I just thought, we've bottled lightning here. Something is going on.

ZAHN: It would be a case of lightning striking twice.

(on-screen): You repeated the triumph a year later, which is the first time, I think, in, what, five decades someone had won Oscars back-to-back. Did that mean much to you?

HANKS: By that time, it was truly about the work. Quite frankly, I mean, this was a long time ago. But I remember that it was a pressure-filled year because of the nature of what the movie was. And it just seemed like I was in an election campaign that just never seemed to end. It just went on, and on, and on, and on, and on.


ZAHN (voice-over): Coming up, the question everyone wants to know.

(on-screen): You're known as the Hollywood nice guy. How have you stayed so nice? You're a good guy.

HANKS: I just try to tell the truth. You know, look, there's no secrets here. At the end of the day, we're just talking about making movies.



ZAHN (voice-over): By the mid-'90s, Tom Hanks was deep into a new phase of his career, taking on roles that honored America's history and the human spirit. In 1995, he starred in "Apollo 13"...

HANKS: What did you do?

ZAHN: ... a retelling of the dramatic moon mission that almost ended in tragedy.

HANKS: Houston, we have a problem.

ZAHN: Hanks would go on to produce "From the Earth to the Moon," a mini-series about the U.S. space program.

(on-screen): You seem to be drawn to characters who are heroes when you look at your body of work about World War II, when you look at the stuff you've done on the space program. Is that a common thread that runs through your work?

HANKS: Well, here's what I think is interesting. I think that all of these, the nature of an awful lot of the characters that I play are like me, except driven, like me, except accomplished, like me, except willing to go like a farther distance in order to do what they think is expected of them.

ZAHN (voice-over): Hanks next set his sight on the heroes of World War II. In his first collaboration with Steven Spielberg, "Saving Private Ryan," Hanks played Captain Miller, the resolute leader of a battle-weary squad.

STEVEN SPIELBERG, DIRECTOR: When I read the script, I only could see Tom playing Captain Miller. There was no -- I didn't have a second choice. I went right to Tom. Tom, you know, represents, you know, the best in all of us. Young people look at him as their father, and older people look at him as their squad leader, their Captain Miller. And we would go into battle with him leading us.

ZAHN: But in 2000, Hanks decided on a change of scenery, opting for something a little more remote. In the movie "Castaway," Hanks pulled off the near-impossible. For almost two hours, he shared the screen with just a volleyball...

HANKS: You've got to love crab.

ZAHN: ... and kept audiences riveted.

CASTRO: If that is not aura, if that is not just sheer presence and power, I don't know what is. And I can't think of one other actor that could have pulled that off so well.

ZAHN: Hanks says he always wants to be interesting, both to his audience and to himself.

HANKS: I have made fire.

I think that there are sometimes you can just get so jaded -- oh, it's always the same process, it's just the same thing. Oh, what am I going to do? I'm going to put on my makeup, and I'm going to talk to Paula Zahn about how fascinating the movie was. And do I believe in dreams coming true? Am I going to do that again?

If you get to the point where you're as jaded as that, I don't think -- you're not interested in what's going in the world. The world is a continuously, always, eternally fascinating place filled with mystery. And you want to embrace it and be a part of it.

ZAHN: Despite his long run of Hollywood blockbusters, Hanks recent films like "The Ladykillers" and "The Terminal" haven't done as well as expected.

ROZEN: When you look in the Tom Hanks realm of blockbusters, neither "Ladykillers" nor "Terminal" hit it out of the park. Both made under $100 million and sort of met with mixed critical response. I'm guessing though, if you ask Tom Hanks, he's probably happy with both movies.

HANKS: Where do I buy the Nike shoes?

ZAHN: Hanks says during film production you never know what will become a hit.

HANKS: I can tell you that making "Bonfire of the Vanities" and making "Forrest Gump" were the same exact experience. At one point, I was sitting with Brian De Palma on one hand or Robert Zemeckis on the other hand on some bench somewhere in some courtroom somewhere saying, "Is anybody going to care about what we're doing here? Are we doing this right?" And both of us throw their hands and go, "Well, you never know. We'll have to see when we find out."

ZAHN: While all of his films may not turn into box office winners, Hanks continues to draw audiences.

ROBERT ZEMECKIS, DIRECTOR: I think why he's beloved so much is that, in his performances that he does, he understands that what makes a great performance is just the truth. And I think that's why audiences identify with him as an actor.

SPIELBERG: He puts himself up there, and we say, you know, we want to be him. We want to be that good.

ZAHN: So good that Hanks has earned a reputation for it.

(on-screen): I guess the one thing that amazes me about you is -- and I've been doing a lot of digging on you -- no one has ever said anything but nice things about you. You're known as the Hollywood nice guy. How have you stayed so nice?

HANKS: Ah, I don't know.

ZAHN: You're a good guy.

HANKS: I just try to tell the truth. You know, look, there's no secrets here. At the end of the day, we're just talking about making movies. And I love talking about making movies. It's no big deal. There's no secrets to keep here. It's an easy enough thing. I mean, I like my job, and I don't mind doing this, you know...

ZAHN: Thank you.

HANKS: I think people say -- well, no, quite frankly, I think people, you know, can say that, "Oh, he's a nice guy," is because, you know, I'll do the press. I don't care. You know, this is rocket -- we're not discussing state secrets here. You know, I'll mention "Bonfire the Vanities." I'll bring that out. That's no problem.

ZAHN: What was that experience like, with "Bonfire"...


(voice-over): There are no secrets with Hanks. What you see is what you get. So whether he's falling for a fish, growing up overnight, fighting the good fight or searching for Santa, Tom Hanks continues to make us believe.

HANKS: The most real things in the world are the things we can't see.

ZAHN (on-screen): At the end of the day, what do you hope people will view as your legacy as a storyteller, as a moviemaker?

HANKS: I can only claim this as a hope that he always surprised us, you know? He always took care of us when we sat down. I would like it to be that, you know, he never seemed to be satisfied with the standard way of doing things. And if you sat down, he was going to tell you a story for a couple hours. You were going to go to a place that you never would have expected.

ZAHN: Tom Hanks' next film, "A Cold Case," is a murder mystery. Hanks plays a retiring investigator who vows to solve a case that has haunted him his entire career, the 27-year-old murder of his friend.


ANNOUNCER: Coming up, Halle Berry, a true Hollywood survivor.

BERRY: Nobody has a perfect life. There's no such thing.

ANNOUNCER: From heartache and pain to stardom and Oscar glory, the perfectly imperfect life of Halle Berry, when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues.


KOPPEL: Hello, I'm Andrea Koppel. We'll be back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS in a moment. But first, here's what's happening now in the news.

Police say the man they believe is the notorious BTK serial killer is finally behind bars. The initials stand for "Bind them, torture them, and kill them," a name the killed coined in letters to the media. Fifty-nine-year-old Dennis Rader, who you see right here, is facing eight counts of first-degree murder and two other homicide charges. He was arrested yesterday near Wichita, Kansas.

The Vatican says Pope John Paul II will follow Sunday's traditional Angelus blessing from his hospital room and take part symbolically. The pontiff has been in a hospital since Thursday with a relapse of flu. A tracheotomy has left him temporary unable to speak.

And the man who started the human rights group Amnesty International has died. Peter Benenson passed away last night at a hospital in Oxford, England. Benenson founded Amnesty International in 1961 as one-year campaign to win the release of prisoners of conscience. Now the group has almost 2 million supporters. Benenson was 83-years-old.

Today is the 12th anniversary of the first terrorist attack at the World Trade Center in New York. We'll look at the new memorial for the six victims at 6:00 Eastern on "CNN LIVE SATURDAY."

More headlines in half an hour. Now back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

It's hard to name a more glamorous star than Halle Berry. At the Academy Awards, she has long been the epitome of celebrity fashion on the red carpet. But this Oscar-winning actress is much more than just a pretty face. Time and again, Berry has proven herself not only on- screen but 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.


DARYN KAGAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Halle Berry is the rarest of Hollywood celebrities, 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 "X-Men 2" and matched wits with James Bond in "Die Another Day."

BERRY: I love that part of what I do, you know, to just sort of engulf myself in a character and go for the realism of that. It's really cathartic to be able to do that.

KAGAN: Berry's drive, her talent, and her good fortune have made her one of the most recognizable stars in the world.

But Halle Berry's story isn't just one of great fame. It's also a study in loss, in pain, from childhood to her divorce from husband number two, Eric Benet.

CHRISTOPHER JOHN FARLEY, AUTHOR, "INTRODUCING HALLE BERRY": Well, when you look at Halle, it's hard to believe there's that much pain in her background. I mean, she has got the beautiful smile, the beautiful skin, the beautiful attitude. She's nothing but friendly and affable 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 was about to be. And Berry's childhood was as turbulent as the times.

ANNE-MARIE O'NEILL, SENIOR EDITOR, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: 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.

FARLEY: 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. If you think of yourself that way, then life will be easier for you.

KAGAN: But little was easy in Cleveland during the late '60s and '70s for a young person of mixed race.

FARLEY: 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 was 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.

FARLEY: 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 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 sought 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 difficult times she'd had with being treated with discrimination. And this was a way to make her stand up and say, "No, 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.

FARLEY: 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 called her mom, Judith. And Judith said, "Listen, you want to make it in the big city, you want to be a success, you have 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.

FARLEY: 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.



KAGAN: Halle Berry began her career on stage as a beauty queen, eventually becoming first runner-up in the 1985 Miss USA competition.

FARLEY: 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, you know, quite by accident. She needed money.

KAGAN: Although she was known as a terrific competitor, Berry wouldn't remain on the pageant circuit for long. She had bigger plans. She was going to be an actress.

In 1989, 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: Bonding 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.

FARLEY: When Halle Berry really was 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.

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. Critical praise for "Jungle Fever" led to more substantial roles for Berry, including a starring turn in 1995's "Losing Isaiah."

BERRY: If you think you're just going to walk up in this court and take my baby like you take some puppy from a pound, you've got another thing coming, lady.

KAGAN: And later, opposite Hollywood legend Warren Beatty in "Bulworth."

Although Berry was dazzling the critics in the 1990s, she was becoming better known to the public as a cover girl.

O'NEILL: Then there came a time where she was really just known as the face of Revlon. She was wearing beautiful gowns to all the performances and awards 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's talked about a former boyfriend who beat her so hard that she ended up deaf in one ear, 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.

FARLEY: 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. 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 from Justice was very tense and very messy.

FARLEY: Halle Berry had him served with divorce papers, you know, between the fifth and sixth innings of a Padres game. That's not a way to make sort of make friends with somebody who's soon to be your ex.

O'NEILL: All kinds of accusations have flown on both sides of her marriage with David Justice. She has 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 of 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."

KAGAN: Berry also began 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 follows the life of the first black woman ever nominated for a best actress Academy Award and her struggles in 1950s Hollywood.

FARLEY: She had a personal connection to Dorothy Dandridge. Halle Berry was born in the same hospital in Cleveland that Dorothy Dandridge was. When she was a kid, she first saw Dorothy Dandridge on-screen when the movie "Carmen Jones" in it. It shocked her. She had 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.

FARLEY: 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 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: People versus Halle Marie Berry.

KAGAN: That story, when our look at Halle Berry continues.



BERRY: Thank you, Bob.

KAGAN: 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.

FARLEY: 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 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 has a lot to do with how her life has turned around.

KAGAN: By 2000, Halle Berry had a new man, a new family with Benet's daughter India, and a new challenge in the form of a project called "Monster's Ball."

BERRY: From the moment I read the script, I thought, "I have 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.

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.

FARLEY: 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 said 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. I thought, "I'm not going to write a speech. I'm really not going to 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.

KAGAN (on-screen): I also liked that moment when they were trying to shoo you off the stage and you said, "Seventy-four years."

BERRY: I saw that sign and I'm thinking, "Wait a minute, 74 years it took somebody." So I didn't want to be too indulgent, but I did have to thank some more people.

KAGAN (voice-over): 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.

BERRY: James...

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.

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 that she and Benet had entered psychotherapy, that 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. The couple separated. And they were officially divorced in January of this year.

JESS CAGLE, SENIOR EDITOR, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: 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 happened, for sure, and ultimately decided to take charge and get out of it.

KAGAN: In the aftermath of her second divorce, Halle 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. And so I'm on a great journey, you know? I'm alive and well. I'm healthy. So life 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, challenge has always brought its risks and rewards.

BERRY: I didn't get that beautiful statue by having any limitations put on me or being afraid to take risks. "Monster's Ball" was the riskiest 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 heading to the small screen for her next project. She is starring in the made-for-TV movie, "Their Eyes were Watching God," a film from Oprah Winfrey that debuts next Sunday.

That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Coming up next week, Martha Stewart prepares for life after prison.

I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us. I hope you're back with us again next week.

ANNOUNCER: For more celebrity news, pick up a copy of People magazine this week.


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