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- American artist
Bruised director and star Halle Berry and her fellow castmembers talk about the importance of trust while shooting a love scene and the hard work that goes into making a mixed martial arts movie.
- I'm sorry, I just don't see it. You used to be Jackie Justice.
- Still, I'm.
- Desi, you still got something.
- You directed your own same sex love scene in this film with Sheila. How did you two discuss that? What kind of conversation did you had about how you wanted it to come across in the film.
HALLE BERRY: We were two women who were very sensitive to the subject. We're sensitive to the LGBTQ community. We wanted this to be depicted in the right light with all the sensitivities surrounding it. And because I'm an actor, I think, there was a lot of trust with me. She knew that I would never put anything up on screen that she was not completely comfortable with.
And I know I've always liked that when I've had to do these kind of scenes. I'm very uncomfortable when I've had a director say, "I will give you full right to approve the scene. I'll show it to you beforehand." And so when someone tells you that and you believe them, you go far because you trust what they're telling you and you become uninhibited.
SHEILA ATIM: We talked a lot about what the scene meant for both of the characters. I think that's always important. So we really wanted to make sure we got the story of what this love scene was across. It's not gratuitous. There's a reason behind it.
And then also, there's the more nuts and bolts side of it, making sure that there's a conversation and there's things written down on paper that makes sure that everybody is safe and in agreement and there's closed sets. And I think it's important that those things become mandatory and commonplace and that we talk about them, because, yeah, of course, I trusted Halle.
HALLE BERRY: It was her first love scene. So I think, she felt really comfortable knowing that it was in the hands of a woman and that she could trust me. That I wasn't out to exploit her in any way but just service these characters in the movie.
- So your final fight with Halle in the film is really gnarly. It's a really intense scene. Tell me about fighting opposite her. Were you impressed by her moves in the ring?
VALENTINA SHEVCHENKO: Before the actual filming, we were training with Halle for two months. We were building up our fight sequences and finding the best for make the fight look real. When I saw her, I knew that she was training before, like, I don't know, two or three years, for jiu jitsu, Muay Thai, strike and grappling, everything. And it was so easy to work with her because she already knew everything.
- So I understand that you injured your ribs at one point making this movie. How did that come about and how did it impact your performance and direction?
HALLE BERRY: Well, it came about somewhere in the second day of shooting a four-day fight and I just took a Valentina Shevchenko kick to the ribs that I was not prepared for.
VALENTINA SHEVCHENKO: When you are doing fight sequences for a long time, starting from the early morning and finishing late night, and you do it all over again and again with the full power, definitely, it's going to be some kind of injuries. But the other part, it takes a lot of power and courage, and Halle did it, no matter what, she continued. She was like, "I don't have right to stop right now. I went so far and this is not the moment. I have to continue." So I so admire her for this.
HALLE BERRY: I had broken ribs on "John Wick" before. And the truth is, when you're a performer and you do your own stunts, it's par for the course. Stunt people get hurt all the time. It's just what happens. But it always seems shocking when it happens to an actor. But when you do your own stunts, it's just bound to happen.
So the first time on "John Wick", I told everybody, "Oh, I've broken something." And we shut down 8 weeks, and I knew that if I told anybody this had happened, they would shut me down, and I would probably never come back to this movie. I would lose Valentina. I mean, she's a champion taking time off to fight in a movie.
I knew I would probably never get her back. I probably would lose all of my financing because it was independent and a smaller budget. I knew I would lose it all. So I realized I had to just keep this to myself and do what real fighters do and suck it up and keep on going.
- How would you grade Halle as a fighter after this? Do you think she's ready to go have a real match in the ring sometime?
VALENTINA SHEVCHENKO: If she wants, she can have anything she wants. But yeah, it all depends what she's going to, like, what is your next desire?
HALLE BERRY: I love that she thinks that. Hell no! No, I don't want to get punched in the face. No, I don't want to break any more ribs. No, no, I have so much respect for the sport and these athletes and how hard they work and their sense of fearlessness. And it's scary. That's scary. No, hell no! No.