Halle Berry

By Randolph, Laura B. | Ebony, March 1997 | Go to article overview

Halle Berry


Randolph, Laura B., Ebony


Halle Berry is eerily quiet. She is sitting in her trailer waiting to be called to shoot a scene for her forthcoming film, Bullworth, a political comedy in which Halle co-stars opposite Warren Beatty as a rapper who comes to play a pivotal role in the life of U.S. senator. Her eyes are closed, and she is completely still; she has said nothing since being asked how she is dealing with the sudden and surprising break-up last year of her marriage to Atlanta Braves outfielder David Justice. She seems completely absorbed, transported. When she finally answers, her voice is so soft, so hushed, you can barely hear her.

"You know," she says, "when David and I broke up..." She stops abruptly and looks away. In the silence that follows, she is clearly trying to make a difficult decision -- whether she is going to tell you something as painful as it is personal. Minutes pass. When the silence grows too uncomfortable, she tries to explain it. That is when you realize, amazingly, her hesitation is as much about her concern for the man who is suing her for divorce as it is for herself.

"I don't want this to be about bashing David," she implores. "He's not a bad person; I'm not a bad person. What I want people to understand is this is about bad choices."

For Halle, the breakup of her marriage is also about putting those choices behind her, or at least learning how to live with them and form them with dignity and grace. But more than anything, as the agony of the last year has taught her, what the breakup of her marriage is really about is learning how to lose a lover without losing herself

"After David asked me for a divorce," she confides, things got very bad for me. I did not want my marriage to end. When David asked me to leave, I felt like my world was coming apart. I said, `What do you mean leave?' I was begging and pleading with him [to reconsider] because I always thought my marriage would be for life. I said, `Can't we get some counseling?' But David didn't want to hear counseling. He wanted a divorce."

If, as Halle says, it was David's decision to end their three-year marriage, surely before he did so, there were warning signs. The actress had to have some inkling that her marriage was on the rocks. Surely she isn't saying that David just came home one day and announced to her -- the woman about whom he once said he thanked God for every day -- that they were finished?

Halle sighs. "I knew the reality of being public people and both of us having such demanding careers had started to take its toll on our relationship," she replies. "But we had gone to Bermuda on our three-year anniversary trip and said all the light things to each other -- we were going to go home and really give it a try; how the marriage could work if we both wanted it to. I believed that. I passed up a movie so I could go to spring training with David and try to invest the time in us. And then one day he came home and said, `I don't want to be married.'" She stops, takes a sip of her Diet Coke and steadies her voice. "When I realized he was really serious and there was nothing I could do," she continues, "the next day I packed my things, and I went back to my home in L.A."

In the days that followed, Halle admits she has never felt so lost. "I was numb for probably two months," she reveals. "I was walking around in a daze. I didn't know how I was going to function. I would wake up in the middle of the night and think this is just a bad dream. I kept saying `No, this isn't really real. David's just on a road trip.'"

Fortunately, Halle had a strong support network that included her mother, who flew to L.A. to be with her daughter, and a core group of close friends who rallied around her. "When it first happened," she says, "everybody who loves me rushed to support me. Thank God I had them because when something like that happens, you need people to hold you up, and I mean literally hold you up, because everything I thought I knew -- my strength, my selfworth -- was in question.

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