Halle Berry directed MMA film because no one else would

Halle Berry makes her directorial debut with the Netflix original movie "Bruised." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Halle Berry makes her directorial debut with the Netflix original movie "Bruised." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Academy Award winning actor Halle Berry, who makes her directorial debut with the Netflix movie Bruised, said she had only intended to star in the film, but met with many directors who did not share her vision.

"I would say, 'Nobody's getting it like I'm getting it. I can't get anyone to see it. It's so in my head.'" Berry said on a Sundance Film Festival panel on "Women Breaking Barriers," hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.


It was Berry's producing partner, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas who suggested Berry do it herself. The two previously made the films Perfect Stranger and Kidnap, and the series Extant together.

"I remember for a week, I just couldn't accept that that was something I wanted to do or could do," Berry said. "Finally, I just acquiesced and I said, 'Okay, if you believe in me, then I'm going to believe in me.'"


Berry plays Jackie Justice, a mixed martial arts fighter trying to make a comeback while fighting for custody of her son. Bruised is the first produced feature by screenwriter Michelle Rosenfarb.

Once she began directing, Berry said she regretted ever doubting herself. However, she found starring in the film she was directing made both jobs harder.

"It was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done," Berry said.

Taking on the director's chair 30 years into her acting career, the 54-year-old found she had to divide her attention between acting and directing. On top of those double duties, maintaining the physicality of a MMA fighter and training regimen added hours to already full days.

"I was relentless in telling this story," Berry said. "I had to get it out of my body so quitting or not completing it was never an option."

On the set, Berry found herself focusing on directing at the expense of her performance. She credited dialect coach Denise [Woods] with reminding her to be present in her scenes, too.

"[Woods] would come up to me and she would just say, 'Great director. Now be the actor. Act.'" Berry said. "Oh, right, I have to do my part in this scene."


Production wrapped on Bruised prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Berry had to complete post-production remotely once lockdowns ensued in 2020.

Berry lamented that she did not get to sit in an editing suite with her editor poring over footage. She was in Los Angeles, Calif., connecting with Jacob Craycroft in New York.

"I found that to be probably the biggest challenge for a first time director, not being right in the room and creating this dynamic relationship with my editor," Berry said.

Since Bruised was her first time directing, Berry said she would have assumed directing is always that hard. Her crew members assured her that she was putting herself through extraordinary circumstances, so Berry is confident if she could direct and star in Bruised, she can direct again.

"They all said, 'This is the hardest [expletive] I've ever watched a woman have to stand and go through,'" Berry said. "At the same time, they said, 'The good news is, it'll never be this hard again.'"

Netflix will release Bruised this year.

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