When I first heard about it, it really upset me," says Halle Berry, recalling her most painful tabloid baptism, anointed with unholy water, the stain of printer's ink. A now-bankrupt Chicago dentist she once dated had peddled his stories - stories about him and about her and about them - claiming they made love on a beach, on a boat, in his dentist chair. "That was the worst thing you can do - making up lies about sexual encounters that got very explicit, very low down and dirty. It was just the lowest of low."
Halle is curled up on the sofa in the living room of the exquisite new L.A. home she shares with her husband, Atlanta Braves outfielder David Justice, recalling the day her manager called and read her the story that provoked the kind of widespread disgust that rarely unites Hollywood anymore.
"I was worried," she confesses, "but not for myself. My concern was David. I thought, 'What is he going to think? How is this going to affect him?'"
She needn't have worried, as she found out the moment she heard her husband's voice. "David called me in Africa where I was shooting Solomon and Sheba and I will never forget it," she says. "He said, 'Baby, don't even worry. This guy can't touch you.' He was so supportive, so loving. He didn't question me about it. He didn't say is this or that true? All that mattered was that I was okay. He said, 'Halle, this man is really sad. I don't want you worrying.' From that day on, it never bothered me."
In fact, Halle seems today neither harmed nor hardened by the whole ugly ordeal, not the dentist's lurid allegations nor the lawsuit he filed …