Halle Berry


  1. Tyra  Ferrell, Jungle Fever, 1991.      New York director Spike  Lee was first to see the talent behind her beauty. “He let me learn… Yeah, that was my first movie. Spike called me in to audition for the role of his wife. All I was up until that point was a model and…some beauty pageants, I thought: How can I shed this image? And I asked him if I could read for the crack  kid. So that was a great way to start in the industry, sort of shedding my physical self and doing a little bit of a character piece.”
  2. Bridget Fonda, Point of No Return, 1992.      Jodie Foster had little hesitation in refusing the Hollywood re-hash (as cumbersome as its title) of réalisateur Luc Besson’s much sharper 1989 French hit, Nikita. Winona Ryder also passed…. while director John Badham (!) somehow also spurned Daryl Hannah, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts and Sharon Stone  for the hit-woman.  Plus  Berry: “I met the director who wouldn’t even let me read for it.” That made a change…. “I once had an audition where the guy said, subtly, ‘Sleep with me and the part’s yours.’ Well, only women with half a brain fall for that shit.”
  3. Demi Moore, Indecent Proposal, 1992.   Although keen on the role (and she would have been great, remember her Oscar-winning Monster’s Ball, 2001), Berry was rejected because the script was controversial enough already (Robert Redford’s zillionaire playing $1m for a night with Woody Harrelson’s wife) without adding the race card. Candidates included Irene Jacob, Andi MacDowell, Sophia Marceau and Julia Roberts.
  4. Angela Bassett, What’s Love Got To Do With It, 1992.    “I’m not ready to play another abused, battered woman,” Halle  cried after the Queenie mini-series So finalists for Tina Turner to choose from for her biopic were Bassett, Robin Givens, Pam Grier,  Whitney Houston (a crazy idea, but pregnant), Janet Jackson (crazier),  Lewis (who finished up playing Tina’s Mama) and Vanessa L Williams.    Tina  voted for Angela after seeing  her sing Proud Mary .  Even then, Angela submitted herself to intense work with dancing, dialect and physical training coaches. Tina sang the songs.  Of course. And Halle enacted Dorothy Dandridge’s life in 1998.
  5. Karina Lombard, The Firm, 1993.  She was seen for the bait on the beach, the beauty tempting Tom Cruise into sex in the dunes. A tiny scene but Berry wanted it “because it was ina big film anddidn’t call for a black woman.”And Mrs Justice(then wed to Atlanta Braves ball player David Justice) wanted justice.  Lombard seduced but Rolling Stone criic Peter Travers wanted more heat.
  6. Demi Moore, Indecent Proposal, 1993.     “I really wanted to be seen. The producer called my manager and said: ‘Why would a black woman sell her body for a $1m?’  The fact is, why would any woman sell her body for a $1m? If you’re going to make this movie with anyone, why can’t it be with a black woman?”
  7. Lolita Davidovich, Intersection, 1993.  Sharon Stone surprised everyone (herself, included?) by voting to be Richard Gere’s plain wife, while Halle lost to Lolita as his sultry mistress. 
  8. Geena Davis, Angie, 1993.    The official reason was Madonna left was that she was already booked for Abel Ferrara’s Dangerous Game, 1992. Then, one of here mails was leaked – furious with the head Fox, Joe Roth, for dumping her for a non-Italian in the titular role. In truth, she fled after hearing Roth didn’t want her because she couldn’t carry a movie. (Not that this one did any better without her). Her director, Jonathan Kaplan, also quit and Martha Coolidge took over with her 1991 Rambling Rose star – after some thoughts about a dozen others, from  Berry to Meryl Streep.  Very Italian!
  9. Sandra Bullock, Speed, 1993.       Although sharing the heroics and the driving of the bus-bomb with Keanu Reeves, most girls saw it as The Guy’s film.  An amazing 36 refused to be Annie:  Halle, Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Glenn Close (!), Geena Davis, Cameron Diaz, Carrie Fisher, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Mariska Hargitay, Barbara Hershey, Anjelica Huston, Diane Lane, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Alyssa Milano, Demi Moore, Tatum O’Neal, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Winona Ryder, Jane Seymour, Ally Sheedy, Brooke Shields, Meryl Streep (!), Emma Thompson (!), Meg Tilly, Marisa Tomei, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver and Debra Winger.
  10. Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction, 1993.

  11. Lolita Davidovich, Intersection, 1994.      “I’ll test or read for or with anybody, anywhere.I just want to know that I’m getting the same shots as Julia or Winona or Marisa or  Whoopi.”
  12. Lela Rochon, Waiting To Exhale, 1995.  Having selected Angela Bassett and  Whitney Houston, actor-turned-director Forest Whitaker told Ebony magaqine that he looked  at  lesser-knowns – Halle Berry, Robin Givens – for the other roles.  (Basset would later direct the TV biopic, Whitney  about  Houston).
  13. Samantha Mathis, Broken Arrow, 1996.    Elbowed by the producers  – “there are no black park rangers.” Hong Kong director John Woo is not hot on choosing women.  He also let Jennifer Aniston and Lauren Holly go, while Helen Hunt preferred Twister. Probably they all agreed with Roger Ebert’s later criticism: the purpose of The Girl was to “take off her shirt as soon as possible.” Christian Slater suggested his similar main squeeze from Pump Up The Volume, 1990
  14. Rosario Dawson, Pluto Nash, 2000.     Jennifer Lopez also escaped being Dina Lake, the singer from earth at Eddie Murphy’s 2087 lunar night club. Not released until 2002, the “comedy” scored one of the largest financial losses of any Hollywood movie. Budget: $100m for a US take of… $4.41m.
  15. Lucy Liu, Charlie’s Angels, 2000.    Tele-tycoon Aaron Spelling decided to put Aaron’s angels on the big screen  (to help generate a new series on the small). His first new  trio: MTV discovery Jenny McCarthy, ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell and 007’s Hong Kong martial arts superstar. Then, Drew Barrymore showed him how to do it. with the  third  of her numerous (canny) productions. Just look at the 25 girls she shuffled to find the right  angel Alex Munday: Aaliyah (“too young”), Jennifer Aniston, Asia Argento, Halle Berry, Lara Flynn Boyle, Helena Bonham Carter, Penélope Cruz, Kristin Davis, Jodie Foster, Angie Harmon (stuck on Law & Order),  Salma Hayek, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nia Long, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tiffani Thiessen, Uma Thurman, Liv Tyler, , Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon, Robin Wright, Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones… And two singers: Lauryn Hill and another  Spice Girl: Victoria Beckham.
  16. Lara Flynn Boyle, Men in Black II, 2001.     Famke Janssen was playing the svelte alien, Serleena, when she has to leave the sequel due to a death in her family. Possible replacements included Berry, Jennifer Lopez and Yeadley Smith. Man in Black Jay (Will Smith) had co-starred with Boyle in Where The Day Takes You, 1991
  17. Jennifer Lopez, Gigli, 2001.      Luckily (the film was the worst of the decade), Berry‘s dance card was full: the new Bond, X-Men 2 and shining her Oscar…. the first won by a black Best Actress in 74 years of Academy Awards.  While the Lopez-Ben Affleck horror saw business drop a record 81.9% at its second weekend.  It remains the only movie to win all top Razzie Awards: Worst Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Script and – as the public was fed up of “Bennifer”-  Worst Screen Couple.
  18. Kate Beckinsale, Underworld, 2003.   So goeth the legend…   As if director Len Wiseman was going to build a franchise around anyone other than his future wife.
  19. Diane Lane, Need, 2004.    Luis Madoki had been planning it for Berry. Until she played a similar role (a shrink) in Gothika.  Marcus Nispel chose Lane.  No one should have chosen Gothika.
  20. Diane Kruger, Troy, 2004.    Diane’s rivals as the face that launched a thousand ships – Helen of Troy – were Halle, Keira Knightley Kristin Kreuk, Jennifer Lopez, Sophie Marceau, Connie Nielsen,Catherine Zeta-Jones.  Said The Times (of London).

  21. Uma Thurman, Be Cool, 2005.   Second stanza of John Travolta as Elmore Leonard’s Chilli Palmer is a music biz satire with heaps of songs, shylocks and gangsters (both kinds) but no bite. Berry, Jennifer Connelly, Charlize Theron and Naomi Watts were up for Edie, aided by Chilli after her husband is rubbed out by the Russian mob. John wanted more magic with his Pulp Fiction  co-star. And, apparently, not with his  2000  Swordfish co-star.
  22. Angelina Jolie, Wanted, 2007.  For his US debut, Kazakhstan director Timur Bekmambetov had the choice of Halle Berry, Beyoncéand Jessica Biel but Jolie had an inside edge – basing her Fox on Clint Eastwood. And shows geeky James McAvoy “how to load a phallic pistol and shoot his wad,” said  Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers.  So she fired up again for Salt, 2009.
  23. Zoe Saldana, Avatar, 2009.     If director James Cameron is so clever, how come he could turn down Halle as Neytiri in his latest greatest box-office champ of all time!
  24. Katherine Heigl, New Year’s Eve, 2011.   She quit the project because of a custody battle over her young daughter. That was settled quicker than envisaged and she became free for another role.
  25. Kurt Russell, Furious 7, 2014.   Universal suits wanted A Name to have a minor rôle leading to something stronger in the next sequel. Targets included Taylor Lautner and two Oscar-winners: Berry and Denzel Washington. Russell played Mr Nobody as if his Tequila Suprise guy Nick Frescia had moved from LA sheriff to US government agent.










 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  25