Halle Berry: 'It is very important to educate the children in two different languages'
The single most important film of this decade and a cinematic masterpiece that few will truly appreciate in its theatrical run is "Cloud Atlas."The movie tells six different stories; however, it really is just one single tale of the human condition and how the soul can change or stay the same across physical boundaries and time. The lead actress is the oscar winner Halle Berry, who sat with us in Los Angeles to talk about her character in the movie and her role as mother in real life. Educating her child Nahla, 4, as bilingual Berry explains the importance of the Spanish Language in her daily life in California.
Q: We saw you in the movies speaking Spanish. Can you speak Spanish?
A: I might speak a little bit of Spanish, working in California, it’s hard to say you don’t speak any Spanish it’s all around us, but no, I don’t speak it quite fluently. I’m trying to raise my child bilingual. I think is very important to educate the children in two different languages
Q: Do you ever read Spanish authors?
A: Right now I don’t have much time to read. But yes I read Carlos Ruiz Zafón book The Shadow of the Wind. I did like it very much
Q: Why do you think is important to raise a child in two languages?
A: Because it opens their horizons cultural and sociologically. I want that my kid speaks as many languages as possible and that way she could read as well the authors in their native tongues. In the times we life in it's very important to speak Spanish, at least in America.
Q: Halle, what does it feel like to play a different race in Cloud Atlas?
A: Race and gender, I never had known either one of those things, but to be a white, Jewish, German woman in the 1930s was, you would never see that character ever again and think, okay, I’m going to call Halle Berry, she’s interested, and so I knew that when that was happening, this was something very unique, a unique opportunity for me to like be in that skin and experiment with what that would be like.
Q: How do you explore that?
A: Well, it’s not like it’s so foreign for me, my mother was a white woman so I grew up with a white woman so it’s not like anything that was not in me and I’m still a human being, a woman, but just to be in that position in life, I had a talk with Tom Ticfer, if I were really being me in the 1930s, I would be nothing living in a house like that, being this sort of trophy wife, ghost of a woman, who was living this life of luxury, and that wouldn’t be my situation, so I had moments that I thought deeply about it and I thought about the oppression of black people and the journey that we’ve taken, and those moment reverberated in my mind and in those scenes and it was a dialogue that Tom and I had all the time, because once you realized that, how important this was for me, we talked about it all the time, he was always like, how could I have been so insensitive, and because at one of the fittings, I was trying on all the beautiful clothes that Joe Costa wears, and he said to me, surely you’ve worn clothes like this before Halle, they look so good to you, your body was made for this stuff, and I said to him, surely you’ve been in 1933, 1932 before and kind of a silence came over the room and he finally realized, he said oh, you are not really a white woman, you have probably never played in this time period before quite like this have you, so it was a dialogue that he and I almost had every day, because of that realization he had that one day, in that costume fitting, so it was a good experience.
Q: The movie was for me a little bit about trying to find the hope and the good in the bad, and today with what's going on in the world it's hard to focus on the good, especially with medias that are always dramatizing and demonizing things, do you think indeed it's not easy to think positive and keep the faith, was it interesting to explore this and to show people you can re-focus and be positive, have hope?
A: Wow, what a great question. Yes, I agree and it is what made me want to do this movie. It is about the hope and the life that there is at the end of the movie. Whatever situation you're down into, there is always a way to find an exit and the light. And you can come out and be a better individual than you were before. Sometimes it's hard to imagine that you will be better. But if you survive and fight for it you will end up better. Q: And it's to face the circle of life and death... A: Yes, every second there is a baby who is born and a man who dies. That's the way it goes. From the minute we're born we know we will die. And that we're working towards our death. It's something we all face.
Q: What is your definition of a family?
A: I think Love and connectivity are two good words to define a family. I come from a broken family and most people I know are from a broken family and I think there isn't anymore a simple cookie cutter vision of what a family is. Family has different faces. And it's OK to embrace a new face for the American family.
Q: Isn't it all about realizing that we're a whole organic family?
A: Yes we need to be responsible for our acts because we all affect each other whether we want to admit it or not. In the big scheme of thing we are indeed all part of one huge family. It's a big concept and most people can't grasp at it. But it's really true and we need to help each other.
Q: Is it hard to do such an emotional movie when you are actually in your private life in such a happy place?
A: No, the most happy you are in your real life, the better work you're able to do, I think. The more you have faith to go in these dark places and explore. And you know that when you go home you have something pure and peaceful waiting for you. It helps.
Q: Are you going to take more risky roles like this one?
A: I have always done risky roles since the beginning of my career. My first role was a crack-head asking a guy at the corner of a street to suck his dick for a dollar! I have always done risky roles and I will always continue to do that. It's the joy of it to do this and try new type of roles.
Q: How did this movie change your life?
A: Every movie I do I feel I have some sort of cathartic experience because this is how I work. And it was the same with this movie. I had a few fears I had to face with this movie and I did it. Also, I worked with a level of actors and a director and I want to continue in that direction. Now I know I will stop settling in my career. I settle sometimes because I desperately want to work and give someone a chance. But now I don't want to settle and I want to work with the Best. I might not work as much, but I really want to work with the best talents around.
(c) America Reads Spanish