Halle Berry says the planned spin-off for her Die Another Day character, Jinx, was “ahead of its time” and considered too much of a risk in Hollywood.
The 54-year-old star said the $80m (£61.5m) budget for an action project with a Black woman in the leading role spooked decision makers at the time.
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Berry told Variety she was very keen on the idea of reprising her role from the 2002 movie, with producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson lobbying MGM to back the film.
She said: “It was very disappointing. It was ahead of its time.
“Nobody was ready to sink that kind of money into a Black female action star. They just weren’t sure of its value. That’s where we were then.”
Die Another Day was released on the 40th anniversary of the James Bond movie franchise and proved to be Pierce Brosnan’s final outing in the iconic tuxedo.
It grossed a franchise record of $432m (£332m) worldwide, despite mixed reviews — though Berry’s performance was singled out for praise.
Rumours of a Berry-led spin-off arose in 2003 as a successor to similar plans for a movie focused on Wai Lin — Michelle Yeoh’s well-received character from Tomorrow Never Dies.
By October 2003, though, MGM had unceremoniously binned the Jinx project, with Variety reporting that Broccoli and Wilson were “clearly furious” about the decision.
Berry then made the decision to take on the lead role in 2004’s Catwoman, which she considered to be “a great chance for a woman of colour to be a superhero”.
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She said, however, that she was then immediately concerned by the plot, which pitted her against Sharon Stone as an evil cosmetics company boss.
Berry added: “I remember having that argument: ‘Why can’t Catwoman save the world like Batman and Superman do? Why is she just saving women from a face cream that cracks their face off?’
“But I was just the actor for hire. I wasn’t the director. I had very little say over that.”
Berry has since been able to grab a taste of the action in films like last year’s John Wick: Chapter 3 — in which she proved to be a leading practitioner of dog-fu — and as an MMA fighter in new movie Bruised.
The latter project, which is premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, also serves as Berry’s debut directorial effort.
She was certainly committed to the project and the necessary brutality within it, cracking two ribs while filming a fight scene for the movie.
“So my mind, my director’s mind, was just — keep going,” Berry said.
“And I compartmentalised that, and I just kept going: ‘I’m not going to stop. I’ve come too far. I’m going to act as if this isn’t hurting. I’m going to will myself through it.’ And so we did.”