'Every Decision I Make, Including Who I Go out with, Has to Be What's Best for My Girl' HALLE BERRY EXCLUSIVE FRESH START

Article excerpt

Byline: JOHN HISCOCK

IT used to be difficult not to feel a little sorry for Halle Berry.

Yes, she is famous, has won an Oscar and enjoys all the trappings that go with Hollywood stardom. And yet... It seemed that whenever she was obliged to submit to interviews to promote a new film she was forced to dodge questions about the latest disaster in her private life.

There was her diabetes, the breakup of a marriage, the split from the latest boyfriend, a mugging, tangles with the law over hitand-run driving - always something new and unpleasant to be interrogated about.

Now, however, things are different. Her life is on the up and it is a genuinely happy, smiling Halle, 44, who sits in an office in West Hollywood eager to talk for the first time about her new boyfriend and her role as a mum to daughter Nahla, two.

"I've wanted this for so long and I feel happier than ever before," she says.

"I'm happy and fulfilled and I'm in a really good space in my life. I've survived many highs and many lows and I think I have it all in perspective now - never get too high and never get too low."

Nahla's father is Canadian male model Gabriel Aubry, with whom Halle had a fouryear relationship, which ended in April. Gabriel, 10 years her junior, still sees his daughter regularly.

"We're Nahla's parents and we both just want what is best for her," says Halle.

"Children shift your priorities and now I have a greater purpose for being here. I love making movies but I would give it all up to be with my daughter if I had to because she's the love of my life. She's made me a better person because everything I do and say, everything I want and don't want, I think first: Will this be best for her? "When you have children you get to see things all over again. So I've never laughed as hard, I've never done more silly things, and I go to great lengths to make her laugh. She's awakened a childlike side of me.

"Every choice I make now, and that includes who I choose to spend personal time with as a partner, is not just about me any more, it's about what's best for her."

At the moment her personal time is being spent with the 44-year-old French actor Olivier Martinez, once Kyle Minogue's lover, who she met in August when they co-starred in the not-yet released thriller Dark Tide.

realistic "I am just a girl who met a boy; a girl who liked a boy; a boy liked the girl and then that's what happened," she laughs.

A survivor of a string of unhappy relationships, she is realistic enough to know that like her previous love affairs, this one may not last.

"I always stay hopeful. Life is about ups and downs and learning pains and growing and happiness and sadness and that's all part of it.

"The good thing is I don't feel I've become jaded. I still want to be in love. I still love it when I see people who have been married 20 years and I think, 'Wow, it is possible.'" Then she adds candidly: "But you know, I think I've come to terms with the fact that 20 years of marriage may not be for me but it doesn't mean I can't have great relationships and be happy and enjoy people while they're in my life, that's how I look at it."

Wearing a grey, body-hugging Dolce & Gabbana dress with black Gucci shoes, and her hair cropped short, the actress appears far younger than her years.

But her good looks are in spite of having had to take a tougher route to the top than her peers. "Not many good parts are written for black women at all and that's been a struggle my entire career," she says, without rancour. "I've finally realised I'm going to have to start making things happen for myself if that's what I want to do."

With that in mind, she set about bringing what she calls her "passion project" to the screen. She bought the rights to the story of a woman struggling with a multiple personality disorder who is torn between who she is and a racist alter ego that preys on her mind and takes over her emotions. …