Halle Berry has played a lot of kick-ass women over the course of her long acting career, from Storm in X-Men to Jinx Johnson in Die Another Day. In her latest film, Kidnap, she plays Karla Dyson, a woman who sets out to rescue her son after he is snatched from a park in New Orleans.
Berry, who has two children, recently spoke to Variety about her new role. The Oscar-winning actress said that she was drawn to the part of Dyson in part because she is a mother herself – but also because she wanted to help rectify the lack of black female heroes onscreen.
“I love seeing a woman, and a woman of colour, get to save the day,” she said. “Men save the day all the time in movies and it’s nice to see a woman do what I know women can do.”
Berry’s comments are backed up by research. Female protagonists appear in just 3% of action movies, according to a study published earlier this year, while less than a quarter of all female film characters are black, Asian or Latina.
Luis Prieto, the director of Kidnap, echoed Berry’s statement. “We’ve seen a lot of movies like this before,” he said, alluding to other kidnap films such as Taken.
“But we’ve never seen a movie where the protagonist is a woman, much less where the protagonist is a mother.”
In a separate interview, Berry said that she felt more connected to her character in Kidnap than any other film role in her career.
“I can’t think of a role that I’ve ever played that really tapped into Halle, into me [like this one],” she told Extra. “This role is more me than anybody… than any role I’ve ever played, I think.”
Berry has had to fight to keep her children safe in real life, as well as on-screen. Several years ago, she spearheaded a bill alongside Jennifer Garner to protect the children of celebrities from paparazzi, after witnessing her daughter Nahla being frightened by photographers.
“Nahla couldn’t leave the house. She couldn’t go to school. She was terrified. So not changing the law was not an option,” Berry said.
“I had to change the law, and so when you have that will and that desire… you’d be surprised what you can actually do.”
The bill was signed into US law in 2013, and paparazzo who harass children because of their parents’ professions now face up to a year in prison if found guilty.
“I always thought I was a pretty strong person, but now being a mother, the things I've been able to fight for my children have really made me understand how strong I am and how much power I have, actually,” said Berry.
“Not only a mother, but just as a woman, I'll always stand up for them.”
Images: Rex Features