Curtis didn’t let that define her, taking on all types of roles across movie genres and proving she could do anything. Moreover, Jamie’s life has been nearly as interesting as her movies. Read on to find out why.
Born to Be on Screen
Jamie Lee Curtis was born in 1958 in beautiful Santa Monica, California. It wouldn’t have been crazy for everybody to assume that little Jamie would have a future in movies. After all, it made sense since she was not only a gorgeous-looking baby, but she also grew up in Los Angeles, attended Beverly Hills High School, and had parents that had been incredibly famous actors too.
Jamie grew up surrounded by her parents’ famous friends and children, getting into the Hollywood crowd from a very early age.
A Family That Loved Horror Films
Much like Jamie, who made her acting debut in a horror film, as did her mother, the famous actress Janet Leigh. Leigh was a huge Hollywood star back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, with one of her most memorable ones being one of the female shower victims in Hitchcock’s famous horror classic, Psycho.
The 1960s film earned Leigh a Golden Globe Award and an Oscar nomination for her infamous screaming shower scene.
Her Dad Was Famous Too
Jamie’s mother wasn’t the only famous celebrity in the family. Her dad, Tony Curtis, was a Hollywood star too, starring in more than 100 films back in the 50s. Tony was a versatile actor, much like his daughter, and he could be brilliant at any role imaginable – comedies, dramas, romances – you name it.
One of his most famous roles was in 1959 when he played Shell Oil Junior alongside Marilyn Monroe in the famous film Some Like It Hot. It is often regarded as the funniest American movie ever made.
High Hopes for Jamie’s Sister
Although it was Jamie who went on to become a huge film star, everybody thought it would be her sister Kelly that would reach Hollywood heights. Kelly was Jamie’s older sister and had been in films acting alongside her parents when she was just a young child.
Kelly did love acting and enrolled in the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, becoming a professional actress. She’s gotten work as an actress and has a solid career, although she never reached the heights of her sister.
A Very Hard Divorce
Unfortunately, Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis decided to get a divorce in 1962, after 11 years of marriage, and the press was brutal. The separation and the divorce were made even more difficult by becoming very publicized. Jamie and her sister Kelly got the brunt of it.
The girls went to live with their mother, Janet, since, as Jamie has often said, her father was very absent after the divorce. “I don’t think he was interested in being a father,” the actress has often remarked in interviews.
Jamie Has Several Half Siblings
Considering that Tony Curtis went on to get married another six times, it’s not so shocking to learn Jamie Lee has many half-sisters and brothers.
In total, Jamie Lee has one full sibling, Kelly, and four half-siblings, Alexandra, Allegra, Benjamin, and Nicholas. Although we’re sure there must have been difficult times along the way; the siblings get along pretty well nowadays. Their houses must be packed in the holidays!
Leaving Them with Nothing
When Tony Curtis passed away in 2010, his children mourned him deeply. However, the feeling of utter sadness must have warped into something far more confusing and angrier when they found out that their father had left them nothing.
Without ever telling a soul, Tony Curtis left his entire family out of his will and decided instead to auction off his possessions to the highest bidder. Neither his six children nor his six wives got a penny.
A Future Full of Doubt
Jamie and her sister Kelly had a pretty good childhood before their parents’ divorce. The girls attended the same high school in Beverly Hills and then in Connecticut. Although Kelly took a different path, Jamie followed in her mother’s footsteps and enrolled at the University of the Pacific.
But unlike her mother, Jamie didn’t have her sights set on acting back then. She wanted to study law, which she did for one semester before deciding to drop out and focus on acting.
Not a Great Student
One of the reasons Jamie decided to drop out of her law degree was because of her grades, never going above a D+. She admitted to being “a terrible student” and spending too much partying. “I probably had some learning thing that I didn’t know about,” Jamie has said in interviews.
However, that didn’t matter much since she was on her way to becoming one of the world’s biggest stars.
Jamie Turns Her Life Around
Jamie decided it was time to call it quits at the university and go back to her hometown, Los Angeles, and try her luck. Being surrounded by actors all of her life, she decided to try her hand at the industry.
At this point, the fact that she had no more than one semester of academic education wasn’t exactly an advantage. Jamie had to rely on her skills, character, and wits if she wanted to make it in the acting world.
The First Audition
One of the first things Jamie did when returning to Los Angeles was to employ an agent to get her acting gigs. After some time, her agent got her an audition for the role of Nancy Drew in a new TV show that was about to debut.
She went to the audition, and it was a wake-up call that made her realize that making it in the acting world was far more difficult than she had ever imagined.
Jamie Got Fired from Her First Acting Job
Not surprisingly, Jamie didn’t get the part in the Nancy Drew TV show, but she didn’t give up. Jamie told her agent to keep looking, and suddenly, a big opportunity came knocking on her door. As it turns out, Universal Studios wanted to sign her for a 7-year acting contract. She was over the moon.
Unfortunately, shortly after, Jamie was fired. In a later interview, the actress remembers the day, “I got fired along with 12 other actors. I was devastated. I thought it was the end of my life.”
Then Came Her Big Break
Getting fired destroyed Jamie’s confidence; after all, she had been auditioning for a long time and got only rejections. The only good thing about getting fired was that she was free to keep looking for opportunities again.
And so it happened that one day, an unknown, independent filmmaker called John Carpenter knocked on her door, offering her a role in his new horror movie, 'Halloween'. Jamie decided to accept without many expectations and without realizing this would become the biggest role of her entire career.
Halloween is a Box-Office Hit
It may be a trivial line, but in Jamie’s case, it’s absolutely true: Some things happen for a reason. If Universal Studios had not fired her, the young actress couldn’t have accepted the role of Laurie Strode, which pretty much shot her to stardom.
Not only was 'Halloween' a huge commercial success, but the film quickly became a cult horror classic. Jamie Lee Curtis was fantastic in the role of Laurie, and the low-budget film exceeded everybody’s expectations.
Despite the Film’s Success, Her Salary Wasn’t Much
Halloween was a perfect example of a box-office hit. With a low budget of $325,000, the horror movie went on to make a whopping $70 million in theaters around the world.
Of course, everybody involved in the film was over the moon with joy when seeing the numbers. But unfortunately, as Hollywood bureaucracy goes, and after paying all the cast, crew, producers, and actors, Jamie only got paid $8,000 for her lead role.
A New ‘Scream Queen’ Has Arrived
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Jamie Lee Curtis earned her title as Hollywood’s new “Scream Queen.” From now on, the actress’s name will be forever linked with horror films.
'Halloween' was only the start of what would be an amazing acting career, and although it did remain her biggest role, especially with all the sequels, Jamie would go on to act in many other box-office hits. The actress could carry a comedy or a drama just as brilliantly as she could do horror.
Bring On the Horror Films
After playing the very convincing Laurie on Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis was cast in the lead role in the horror film, 'The Fog.' Also directed by John Carpenter, the film cast Jamie’s mother as well. Janet Leigh was to act alongside her daughter for the very first time.
Although 'The Fog' was a huge commercial success, many movie critics weren’t so pleased with it. It was a mixed bag of reviews, but the general audience seemed to love it. The 1980s film had a budget of $1 million and went on to make more than $21 million in theaters.
More Horror Films
After 'The Fog', Jamie Lee Curtis just kept getting star roles in horror films. Her next endeavor was playing the title role in Paul Lynch’s slasher film 'Prom Night.' The Canadian, low-budget movie had many similarities to 'Halloween.'
After 'Prom Night,' Jamie was immediately cast in another horror-slasher film called Terror Train. Both movies did well in theaters, considering their budget was quite low, but the film critics destroyed them.
Jamie Wants to Branch Out
While she was thrilled to be getting constant roles, Jamie didn’t want her entire career to be limited to the Horror genre. She was well aware of how easy it was to associate an actor with a genre and leave them there forever, as she’d seen with her parents.
In an interview years later, the actress stated, “I felt honored that 'Halloween' was and will be the greatest part of my creative life. But I also grew up in show-off business, and I recognized very early that a pigeonholing association with one genre only would be limiting.”
Maybe One More Horror Movie
Just as Jamie was considering leaving the horror genre for good, she was approached to star in the Halloween sequel, Halloween II. The film came out in 1981, and fans rushed to the theaters to see if the sequel could live up to the original.
Again, the film did very well in terms of gross profits, and Jamie Lee Curtis did a fantastic job once more as Laurie Strode. However, critics gave the film some bad reviews, claiming it didn’t come close enough to the storytelling quality of the first film.
The ‘Scream Queen’ Hates Horror Films
Ironically, Jamie Lee Curtis hates horror films in real life. She really doesn’t like the feeling of going to the cinema being terrified.
The actress came clean in an interview once, saying, “I do not like horror movies. I do not say this for a joke; although it gets a laugh, I really don’t. There’s nothing I like about being scared.” Now that’s quite a funny and interesting twist.
From Horror to Comedy
Finally, after years of only being cast in slasher films, Jamie Lee Curtis got an opportunity to star in a comedy film. In 1983, she acted along with Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy in 'Trading Places.'
The film was absolutely hilarious, and Jamie proved herself as a jack of all trades, playing the exceptional role of Ophelia. The movie was a hit both at the box office and with critics and audiences alike.
Her First Big Award
Her role in 'Trading Places' didn’t just give Jamie Lee Curtis a proper acting reputation, seeing as she could play comedy as well as she could horror. The film also earned her a BAFTA Award, which is a huge honor.
The British Film and Television Award, which is like a British version of the Oscars, was awarded to Jamie for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The film received several nominations also, with John Landis as its director.
Not Just a Horror Queen Anymore
Once associated with slasher films, Jamie Lee Curtis was suddenly noticed for her appearance. Indeed, the actress was stunning, but she was also incredibly talented, and she started to resent people for not seeing that.
In what was probably one of the worst movies she’s been in, Jamie Lee Curtis starred in the 1985 James Bridges’ film, 'Perfect. 'She played a fitness instructor and the love interest of John Travolta. In an interview at the time, she said she really disliked the fact that her physical and sensual presence was the only thing people responded to.
A Nerd at Heart
Another interesting fact about Jamie Lee Curtis that few people knew about was that she’s a huge geek deep down. In an interview, the actress once said, “I walk around in Tretorn sneakers and baggy safari shorts and odd assorted T-shirts from my husband’s T-shirt collection”
The actress has said that she only puts on womanly stuff when she goes to work. Apparently, the rest of the time, you’d be hard-pressed to see her wearing makeup or high heels.
Starring in ‘A Fish Called Wanda’
Although she might have been ticked off by people concerning themselves so much with her looks, they certainly landed her some impressive acting roles. During the decades of the 80s and 90s, Jamie Lee Curtis was getting job offers left and right.
In what was probably one of the best movies of her career, she starred in 1988’s brilliant film, 'A Fish Called Wanda.' The movie earned the actress two award nominations – one for a BAFTA and another for a Golden Globe.
Branching Out to Television
The Hollywood star decided to try her hand at the TV as well, wanting to branch out and experience something new. Jamie got cast in the American sitcom 'Anything But Love,' in her first debut on the small screen.
The light comedy show featured her and comedian Richard Lewis trying to hide their romantic feelings for each other. On her first try in the world of TV, Curtis won a People’s Choice Award and a Golden Globe.
Playing a Cop
After TV, Jamie Lee Curtis returned to the big screen in Katheryn Bigelow’s 1989 thriller 'Blue Steel .' In it, Curtis plays NYPD officer Megan, who is wrongly accused of a crime.
The film was a hit, critics and audiences loved it, and Curtis added another notch to her professional belt by proving that she was also brilliant at playing action hero roles in mainstream movies. The actress was on her way to superstardom.
Her First Drama
In 1991, 'My Girl,' one of cinema’s most beloved coming-of-age drama films, came out. With Anna Chlumsky playing Vera, Macaulay Culkin playing her best friend, and Dan Akroyd playing the kind dad, Jamie Lee Curtis landed the role of Shelly, Dan Akroyd’s girlfriend.
The film was a hit, making over $121 million in profits on a budget of $17 million. It was such a success that they immediately planned a sequel, which came out three years later. Curtis was the main character in that one as well.
Filming ‘True Lies’
The year 1994 was an exciting one for Curtis. After wrapping up the filming of 'My Girl,' she got to star in the James Cameron spy thriller 'True Lies .' The incredibly entertaining blockbuster featured Curtis as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wife, and they turned out to be hiding a lot from each other.
It was the first husband-and-wife spy film of its kind, and it was a hit. Curtis said it was the best time she ever had on set, becoming lifelong friends with Schwarzenegger.
The Dancing Scenes
Curtis has said that one of the most challenging things about filming 'True Lies' was the dancing scenes. While Schwarzenegger loved doing his own stunts, she was terrified about having to learn the tango and found it really hard.
The actress even fell during rehearsal once, and James Cameron decided to include it in the script! Curtis added another Golden Globe to her collection for her performance in the film.
Behind the Scenes
Her professional life was going amazingly, but how were things behind the scenes? Well, in real life, Jamie Lee Curtis couldn’t have been happier, either. She married actor Christopher Guest in 1984, and they’ve been together ever since.
The story is quite romantic, if not a bit strange since it turns out Curtis predicted her marriage just a mere five months before it happened. “I said to my friend Debra Hill after seeing Christopher in a magazine that I was going to marry him.” Apart from acting talents, Curtis can apparently see the future too!
A Growing Family
The married couple decided they wanted their family to grow, and so they adopted their first child, a gorgeous girl they named Annie.
Annie flourished with her new parents and went on to become an actress herself. Although she likes her craft, she doesn’t seem concerned with being the center of attention. She’s definitely got her mother’s impressive acting skills. Annie Guest has worked in several small roles and prefers to keep her personal life private.
A Dancer in the Family
Another talent that Jamie Lee Curtis’s daughter has is dancing. Annie earned her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Kenyon College and loves performing on stage. She has gone on to become a dancing teacher as well, coaching young dancers in jazz, modern, hip-hop, ballet, and lyrical.
Like her mother, Annie is a jack of all trades when it comes to her artistic career. She also co-directs a dancing group that has won several prestigious awards.
We all know that Hollywood celebrities know each other, whether from working on the same film or meeting at an Awards party. But here’s a fun little tidbit that you probably didn’t know about two Hollywood celebrities. Jamie Lee Curtis is actor Jake Gyllenhaal’s godmother!
The two have an amazing relationship and are very close. According to rumors, her godson Jake was the one who convinced her to do the newest installment of the 'Halloween' movies.
Not long after Curtis and her husband adopted Annie, they decided to add a sibling to the equation and adopt a boy, whom they named Thomas. Jamie and her son Thomas used to be huge fans of online video games.
Years later, Jamie revealed that her son Thomas was transgender and had become her daughter Ruby. She witnessed her child go through the transition and said that she couldn't be a prouder mom than she already was.
Owning Up to Her Mistakes
Everything was going great for Jamie Lee Curtis, both personally and professionally. Until one day, she realized she had a major problem that she could no longer ignore. In 1999, the actress read an article about addiction to painkillers, and she suddenly realized she had a problem.
Curtis had become addicted, so she decided to tackle the issue head-on, come clean to her husband, and go straight to rehab. Her husband was shocked that he didn’t realize sooner and vowed his unconditional love and support.
The Road to Recovery
Jamie Lee Curtis went straight to rehab and then to recovery meetings. It was a long and hard road ahead, but she did it, and to this day still counts it as her biggest achievement. She was determined not to be another member of her celebrity family that had struggled with substances and lost.
In an interview years later, the actress said, "Getting sober remains my single greatest accomplishment. [It’s] bigger than my husband, bigger than both of my children, and bigger than any work, success, failure – anything.”
Back to Work
The moment Curtis was done with rehab, she went straight back to acting, feeling better than ever. And the studios were ready for her, offering a project dear to her heart: the starring role in a 2002 'Halloween sequel – 'Halloween: Resurrection.'
Critics didn’t love the film, but the audiences did, and the profits proved it. With a budget of $15 million, the film did more than double that amount in theaters. Most importantly, Curtis proved to herself and the world that she was back and ready for anything!
The Success of ‘Freaky Friday’
Curtis went back to comedy in 2003 when she starred alongside Lindsay Lohan in the hit film, Freaky Friday. The plot is about a mother and daughter that switch bodies after eating special fortune cookies at a Chinese restaurant.
The film is funny, wildly entertaining, and did great at the box office. Critics and audiences loved it, and Curtis was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role as Tess Coleman in the film.
The Dawn of a New Era
The decade of the 2000s was a good time for Curtis, both in her personal life and career-wise. She continued to act in light comedies that had great success in theaters, such as 'Christmas with the Kranks,' 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua,' 'The Kid & I, 'You Again,' and others.
It didn’t matter that the movies didn’t have the same popularity as her first horror movies, Curtis enjoyed making them, and she was going through a crucial time of personal growth.
Curtis’s Other Projects
Besides being an incredibly talented actress, Jamie Lee Curtis is also an author – a children’s author! Curtis has actually published more than 13 children’s books throughout her life, and they’re beautiful.
The books have amassed quite the following, becoming very popular with audiences worldwide. It turns out that Curtis is a great writer, and she has been recognized by some of the world’s biggest publishing houses, such as HarperCollins.
A Great Writer in General
Children’s books aren’t Curtis’s only specialty since, as it turns out, she’s a great writer in general as well. Curtis has a blog in the Huffington Post that she writes for regularly and has a website of her own where she’s constantly posting her writings.
The actress has said many times on her website that apart from acting and writing, she loves photography and organizing closets. And we’re sure she’s great at those too.
Curtis Loves Inventions
Apparently, there isn’t a single thing this woman can’t do, and that includes being an inventor. A while back, Curtis came up with an idea that she later patented as her own invention, and it was a hit!
The project consisted of creating a diaper that had a built-in pocket on one of the sides where moms could place baby wipes and have them readily available. Curtis got a lot of offers from different companies to produce the item, but she refused, stating she wanted to ensure the wipes were biodegradable first.
An Important Part of the Horror Cycle
Much to Curtis’s surprise, she was approached in 2018 to play Laurie Strode once more. Director David Gordon Greene was making a 'Halloween' sequel, and luckily, Curtis said yes.
The actress found herself playing Laurie again 40 years later, and the film ended up becoming one of the best sequels to date. The sequel, also called 'Halloween, 'was a big commercial success, making over $250 million at the box office. Critics gave it good reviews as well.
Curtis Also Did Some Screenwriting
Another little-known fact about Jamie Lee Curtis is that she tried her hand at screenwriting too. She tried to write her own horror film, which she would produce using her own production company. The film was called 'The Myth.'
The plot was about a combination of natural disasters that run into a horror story that decimates the entire world. Sadly, the script never made it far, and studios weren’t too interested, so it was never made.
A Committed Activist
Aside from all her personal and professional achievements, Jamie Lee Curtis is also a passionate activist, fighting for causes dear to her heart. She’s involved in women’s charities and movements, children’s hospitals, and many more.
A big project she was part of included a play she starred in, called ‘8’, in which she and other A-list celebrities re-enacted a trial that overturned the ban on same-sex marriage. The play got rave reviews.
A Dedicated Supporter of Children
Not only does Curtis write books for children, but she’s also a board member at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. The actress has been spotted visiting the hospital quite frequently in an attempt to cheer kids up as they struggle with their health.
Curtis was responsible for the opening of a new inpatient facility at the hospital, a cause she took on when she realized there wasn’t enough space to take in more kids.
Fighting for Women
Another cause Curtis is passionate about is fighting for women’s rights. She spends a great deal of time getting to know women in dire situations personally and offering them help in any way she can. She doesn’t just limit herself to protests and marches; she actually gets personally involved.
In 2003, Curtis attended the 11th annual gala and fundraiser for the Women in Recovery organization. She was named the guest of honor.
The Best Is Yet to Come
Jamie Lee Curtis has starred in two more 'Halloween sequels since 2018. 'Halloween' Kills in 2021, and the epic final movie to end the saga, 'Halloween Ends,' in 2022. She was phenomenal in both movies, and even though it’s sad to see such an epic horror saga end, it was amazing to see Curtis and the story come full circle.
The actress is feeling great about things to come, stating that she “…is a constant editor. I shed people, I shed clothing, I shed possessions, I shed ideas. The biggest thing I’ve shed is my own limitations and perception of who I am...". We can’t wait to see where life takes her next!
On a beautiful star-studded evening in March 2002, Halle Berry became the only woman of color to win a Best Actress Oscar. The applause rang on and on. A visibly-shocked Berry stepped on stage to accept the award. It was well-deserved praise for a tenacious and brilliant performer. Berry continued making waves long after her historic win. She refused to be boxed in; playing superheroes, addicts, or goddesses with equal aplomb.
Few Hollywood actors have a legacy as enviable. The road here, however, was no mean feat. From overcoming adversity as a child to systemic biases, the actor’s journey in film history is extraordinary.
Berry Is Born
She was born in 1971 as Maria Halle Berry in Cleveland, Ohio. Her Caucasian mother, Judith Ann (nee Hawkins), worked as a psychiatric nurse, while her African-American father was a hospital attendant in the same ward where her mother worked. Her parents named her after the Halle Building in Cleveland – a grand old structure once home to the Halle Brothers department store.
It is now an office building. You may recognize it as the fictional Winfred-Louder department store on "The Drew Carey Show" (1995).
A Troubled Childhood
Berry shared a tumultuous relationship with her father. She spent most of her childhood dealing with his addiction. That addiction prevented the father and daughter from having any relationship.
The parents divorced when Berry was four, but her father ducked in and out of their lives at will. Things at home never improved, with her father increasingly becoming violent towards her mother and sister. Given her childhood, she would make it her lifelong mission to support charities that work with victims of domestic violence.
Early Makings of a Queen
After graduating from Bedford High School, Berry began working at Higbee’s Department store in the children’s section. Later, she joined Cuyahoga Community College and also dabbled in modeling on the side. Beauty pageants were the rage in the ‘80s, and Berry, with her unconventional good looks, was a shoo-in. She won Miss Teen All-American in 1985 and Miss Ohio USA the year after.
In 1986, Berry won the first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant, where the judges awarded her interview the highest score. She made history as the first African-American Miss World contestant in 1986.
Her First Television Appearance
Berry’s first credited role was on the weekly TV series “Living Dolls” (1989). Even though the series was short-lived, Berry stood out in her role as Emily Franklin, one of the models on the show. Berry, on the set of “Living Dolls,” became famous for her gritty acting talent.
She gained a reputation for fierce tenacity. The budding actor got under the skin of her character and lived the role long after the cameras stopped rolling.
She Falls Into a Coma While Filming
Berry fell seriously ill while taping one of the episodes for “Living Dolls.” The cast and crew had been filming non-stop, and an exhausted Berry desperately needed a breather. She couldn’t even find a minute for a candy bar break. The grind continued. Berry grew more tired until, one day, she passed out and didn’t wake up for seven days.
The actor had fallen into a deep coma. When she finally regained consciousness, the doctors told her she had diabetes mellitus type 1. Since then, the actor has had to test her blood sugar levels twice daily and take insulin shots.
Her Big Hollywood Break
Berry's first breakthrough role came in Spike Lee’s critically-acclaimed film “Jungle Fever” (1991). Berry played Samuel L. Jackson's addict girlfriend, Vivian. She was stellar in her role.
Her preference for method acting became visible for all to see. To embody Vivian’s character, Berry stopped bathing for several days before filming. “Jungle Fever” became her big-screen break, signaling the actor's arrival in Hollywood. That same year, she also landed her first co-starring role in the film “Strictly Business.”
An On-Screen Pairing for the Ages
In 1992, a young Berry starred opposite Eddie Murphy in a vastly underrated romantic comedy, “Boomerang.” Although people don’t talk about it enough, the film was a big part of the 90s' entertainment legacy. It was the only top 20 movie of the year with a predominantly African-American cast.
The film’s triple-platinum soundtrack catapulted the career of a young artist named Toni Braxton. Above all, the show-stealing Eddie Murphy finally found his match in Halle Berry. Her performance was memorable and (dare we say) better than Murphy’s!
She Makes Headlines for “Queen: The Story of an American Family”
Soon after her success on “Boomerang,” Berry floored audiences with her performance in the TV adaptation of “Queen: The Story of an American Family” (1993). Based on the novel by Alex Haley, Berry plays a headstrong biracial woman named Queen, the love child of a plantation owner and an enslaved woman, Easter.
Berry played the role of Queen to perfection – her struggles as a woman who is neither white nor black in post-Civil War America. The actor received praise for her nuanced performance from audiences and critics alike.
Her Relationship and Marriage to David Justice
Berry’s personal life was far from smooth sailing, unlike her career. The actor went through numerous ups and downs, from her violent childhood to a string of turbulent marriages. Her first marriage was to former baseball player David Justice in 1993 — a love story never meant to last.
Sources close to the couple cited conflicting work schedules and incompatibility issues. The couple divorced in 1997. An emotionally distraught Berry later shared that she considered taking her own life after her first marriage ended.
She Plays an Addict
Berry’s next big project was a starring role in the drama “Losing Isaiah” (1995) opposite Jessica Lange. Inspired by several real-life adoption cases, the film tells the story of Khaila Richards (Berry), who abandons her son in a cardboard box after a wild night. The next day, a sober Khaila realizes what she’s done, but by the time she goes back to the place, the boy has disappeared.
The film received mixed reviews. Some called it powerful while others believed the writers were too careful not to offend. Despite the general criticism, Berry’s acting was on point, and she continued her journey to super-stardom.
Finding and Losing Love Again
In 1997, Berry met musician Eric Benét, who was the loving, safe space she needed. Love blossomed quickly, and the couple married on a beach in Santa Barbara in 2001. During this time, Berry developed a close bond with Benét’s daughter, India, and eventually adopted her. Sadly, the good times did not last long.
Berry and Benét separated in 2003. Their divorce came through in 2005. After the divorce, Berry stated that she longed for love and hoped to find it.
A Love Story That Became a Nightmare
Berry and Benét’s marriage seemed rock-solid and almost idyllic for a while. Many people were shocked to learn about their separation and subsequent divorce. What went wrong? Berry discovered that her husband was a serial cheater.
After denying the allegations for a while, Benét later admitted he had a problem and underwent treatment for addiction. Her ex-husband would not take the entire blame for their marriage falling apart. He wrote that it was time for Berry to take responsibility for some of her flaws instead of constantly playing the victim.
Benét’s Side of the Story
Among the strongest criticisms, Benét leveled at his ex-wife was how she did not maintain a relationship with his daughter, India. Berry and India had shared a great rapport during better days. She had even adopted India to prove her commitment to father and daughter. Things steadily deteriorated after the divorce, with Berry ceasing all communication with India for years.
Benét claimed he never stopped the two from interacting and having a relationship.
The Offers and Accolades Keep Rolling In
In 1998, Berry stunned audiences again with her flawless portrayal of Nina in “Bulworth.” Nina is a stunning woman raised by activist parents who give a new lease on life to a jaded politician (Warren Beatty).
Berry received widespread praise and acclaim for her role. That same year, she also starred in the biopic “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” where she played Zola Taylor – one of the three wives of the famous pop singer Frankie Lymon.
Playing an Icon and Becoming One
The following year Berry shone as Dorothy Dandridge in the HBO biopic “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” (1999). The biopic was a tremendous success, its cast and storytelling were flawless. But there was no doubt that the movie was all about Halle.
She brilliantly portrayed the greatness and trials of the first black woman to be nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award. In a beautiful twist of fate, Berry herself would later become the first African-American woman to win the prestigious award. She won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for the role.
Her Run-in With the Law
In 2000, the actor received three-year probation and a fine of $13,500 for her involvement in a car crash. The other driver, Hetal Raythatha, alleged that Berry’s rented Chevrolet Blazer ran a red light and plowed into her car, after which the actor fled the scene.
The actor pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge. Raythatha broke her wrist, while Berry had gashes on her forehead that required 20 stitches. The court also ordered Berry to perform 200 hours of community service.
Box Office Success
Playing Dorothy Dandridge paved the way for more opportunities. In 2002, the multi-award-winning star added another feather to her cap when she portrayed the iconic mutant Storm in the X-Men franchise. It is arguably one of her most badass roles to date.
Berry played the role of the weather-controlling, lightning-striking mutant to perfection. She came back as Storm in the film’s sequels: “X-Men United” (2003) and “X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006).
On Digging Deep to Play Dorothy Dandridge
Playing the role of Dorothy Dandridge meant everything to Berry. She initially faced stiff competition to buy the rights to the biography “Dorothy Dandridge” by Earl Mills. Big names like Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston wanted it too. In an exclusive interview with the journalists of the HFPA, Berry revealed that she would not have been able to portray the role the way she did if it was not for her divorce.
She said dealing with her divorce took her to the dark spaces she needed to understand a character as layered and complex as Dandrige.
Very Risqué Business
Critics panned the mystery thriller “Swordfish” (2001) for its shoot-‘em-up entertainment with improbable storylines. It also famously became the film where Berry went topless for the first time.
It was 2001, and there was a general dislike of on-screen nudity. Understandably, Berry was at first reluctant to go topless. She agreed when Warner Brothers offered her a substantial $500,000 pay raise for a brief flash of her breasts – taking her total salary to a whopping $2.5 million.
The Role That Made Her
Halle Berry bagged the role of a lifetime as Leticia Musgrove in “Monster’s Ball” (2002). The actor stated during interviews that she instantly connected with her character — a broken wife of an executed murderer. Many people advised her against taking the role. They said it was a low-budget film with several racial and sexual components. Why risk a thriving career for the endeavor of first-time screenwriters and a relatively inexperienced director?
But for Berry, it was a no-brainer. She was willing to take the risk and end her career doing something that inspired her.
The First African-American Woman to Win an Oscar
Despite naysayers and doomsday predictions, Berry followed her heart and worked on “Monster’s Ball.” The film and Berry were outstanding, proving every detractor wrong. Along with Berry, the film featured a stellar cast — Heath Ledger, Billy Bob Thornton, Sean' Diddy' Combs, and Peter Boyle.
Berry’s impeccable performance earned her the Best Actress Oscar — the first African-American woman to win the award. She also won the National Board of Review and Screen Actors Guild Prizes for her role in the film.
A Big Win for Diversity in Hollywood
Halle Berry’s 2002 Oscar win was a landmark moment for the African-American community and other people of color. She received recognition from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). "Congratulations to Halle Berry and Denzel Washington for giving us hope and making us proud.
If this is a sign that Hollywood is finally ready to give opportunity and judge performance based on skill and not on skin color then it is a good thing," the civil rights organization stated.
On Shattering Color and Gender Barriers
In her Oscar acceptance speech, a visibly-overwhelmed Berry said the moment was much bigger than her. “This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It's for the women that stand beside me, Jada Pinkett, Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox. And it's for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened."
She added that she felt honored, and thanked the Academy for choosing her. Berry received a standing ovation.
Not Without Controversy
With great success comes great controversy. Halle Berry’s win may have been historic but she received her fair share of criticism. While most people in the African-American community praised the star for breaking color barriers, many were critical of her for playing the role.
Her graphic love scene with a racist character (played by Billy Bob Thornton) did not go down well with black audiences. For her part, Berry responded by saying that the pivotal scene needed to be there. It was integral to the script. She would only go that far for a story as extraordinary as "Monster's Ball."
A Woman Who Knows Her Worth
Berry had slowly but surely come into her own, with a solid body of work and numerous awards. She was also the face of Revlon for many years, but after winning the Academy Award, the actor asked Revlon for higher fees.
Revlon chief Ron Perleman congratulated her on the win, saying how thrilled he was that she modeled for the cosmetics company. Berry allegedly replied, "Of course, you'll have to pay me more." Perleman reportedly walked away in a rage.
Few movie franchises can compare to the iconic James Bond. And one of the star elements in it is the Bond girl. As Giacinta ‘Jinx’ Johnson in “Die Another Day” (2002), Berry had the opportunity to present a fresh take on the Bond girl. Giacinta wasn’t just beautiful — she actively worked alongside Bond for perhaps the first time in the franchise’s history.
A new-generation Bond girl who wasn’t out to betray the hero, die, or eventually disappear. She was there to stay.
The Jaw-Dropping Bikini Scene
Most people love “Die Another Day” for many things. Among the film’s most iconic moments is Halle Berry’s bikini scene. The exciting scene was an homage to Ursula Andress, the first Bond girl who similarly stunned audiences in a bikini in the 1962 film.
Berry, as Jinx in an orange bikini, created waves and kept her winning long after the historic Oscars. News polls showed that audiences had voted Jinx the fourth toughest girl in film history.
An Infamous Oscar Moment
Berry’s acceptance speech at the Oscars created ripples and moved audiences everywhere. A year later, in 2003, the actor inadvertently became a part of Oscar history.
As she presented the award for Best Actor, winner Adrien Brody ran up on stage and forced a kiss on Berry’s mouth instead of the standard peck on the cheek. She did not see it coming, and neither did we. Brody became better known for this notorious moment instead of his Oscar win for “The Pianist.”
Berry Almost Turned Down “X2”
After winning the Academy Award, Berry considered not appearing on 2003's "X2." She said she won't do it unless they gave her character more presence. Berry shared during interviews that her character, so far, had little to no impact on the storyline. She believed the film adaptation gave Storm little presence and agency compared to the comics.
As a result, producers commissioned rewrites and discussed numerous contract re-negotiations to accommodate the changes. The result was a film closer in spirit to the comic book.
Robert Downey Jr. Broke Her Arm
Berry starred in the psychological thriller “Gothika” (2003) opposite Robert Downey Jr. While filming one of the scenes, Downey was supposed to grab her arm and twist it. He was a little too enthusiastic and broke her arm instead. The injury resulted in production shutting down for eight weeks.
Berry later shared how she was still miffed with Downey, saying he didn’t seem sorry enough. While speaking of the accident to others, Downey has downplayed how it was entirely his fault. Berry has reportedly avoided him around Hollywood since.
Halle Berry: A Household Name
Despite the debilitating injury and “Gothika” receiving lukewarm reviews, Berry continued being unstoppable. In 2003, the Academy-award-winning actress appeared in Limp Bizkit’s music video, “Behind Blue Eyes,” directed by Fred Durst.
The video for the iconic track featured several scenes from “Gothika.” She also ranked #1 in FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women in the World listing that same year. The actor also placed fourth in Empire Magazine’s 100 Sexiest Film Stars of All Time poll in 2004.
She Falls in Love With Gabriel Aubry
Despite suffering heartbreak after heartbreak, Berry wasn’t one to stop trying. Her resilience paid off when she met French-Canadian supermodel Gabriel Aubry at a Versace photoshoot, where sparks began to fly. The two began dating in November 2005.
All eyes were on the attractive couple, especially since Aubry was ten years younger. Six months into the relationship, Berry shared how happy she was in her personal life, calling it “a novelty.”
The Fiasco That Was Catwoman
If Halle Berry was the kind to look back and regret a decision, starring in “Catwoman” (2005) would be it. The story may have worked in theory but turned out to be a glorious mess on screen.
It had a weak script and sloppy acting, strung together by Berry in a hot catsuit. Even the action sequences were bland. The $100 million movie grossed $17 million on its first weekend and continued plummeting after.
She Accepts the Razzie for “Worst Actress” and Sets “That Thing” on Fire
The Catwoman debacle continued following Berry around. In 2005, she was awarded a Razzie Award for “worst actress.” The actor took all of it in her stride and even appeared at the ceremony to accept the award. In her acceptance speech, Berry spoke of her mother’s most enduring lessons on the value of hitting rock bottom — good losers eventually became good winners again. Berry received the award in good humor.
She then went home and promptly set the award on fire! Berry is among the few stars to accept the infamous Razzie in person.
Halle Berry’s Activism
Berry has always remained vocal about her politics through numerous charities and causes she supports. In 2006, she actively campaigned against the proposed Cabrillo Port Liquefied Natural Gas facility off the Malibu coast.
She stated, "I care about the air we breathe. I care about the marine life and the ecosystem of the ocean." Berry joined hands with other stars like Cindy Crawford, Pierce Brosnan, Jane Seymour, Daryl Hannah, Tea Leoni, and Dick Van Dyke. A California Commission voted against the project, citing grave environmental concerns. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected the project proposal in 2007.
A Hollywood Star to Her Name
Halle Berry was everywhere in Hollywood during the 2000s. Her career saw numerous highs and lows, from winning Oscar glory to enduring Razzie humiliation. In April 2007, Berry cemented her achievements and contributions to the film industry and got a star to her name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Berry joined the illustrious list of Hollywood greats with a star in front of the Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.
The Journey to Motherhood
Berry had never considered having children until her experience playing a mother in “Things We Lost in the Fire.” She said the film opened her eyes to the possibility of motherhood. In September 2007, she confirmed she was three months pregnant after denying pregnancy rumors for a long time.
She and Gabriel welcomed a baby girl on March 16, 2008, at a hospital in Los Angeles. The couple named their angel Nahla Ariela Aubry.
The Scent of Success
As the face of Revlon cosmetics, Berry became synonymous with the brand for decades. She was also one of the brand ambassadors for Versace. In March 2008, the actor made her foray into the world of fragrances when Coty Inc. signed her to market her debut perfume line.
A delighted Berry spoke about how she created her fragrances at home by mixing and experimenting with scents. Berry received about $5 million and a 5% royalty as part of the collaboration.
Trouble in Paradise
Berry and Aubry never married. The couple believed their life was complete without the need for marriage. Berry did hope that she could have another child right away. Unfortunately, the couple decided to part ways in 2010.
In a joint statement, they said the split was amicable, and they remain friends and devoted parents to their daughter, Nahla. Aubry stated that Berry would always be one of the most beautiful people he had ever known.
A French Romance
The Oscar-winning actor found love again in 2010 when she met the dashing French actor Olivier Martinez. The two first connected while working on “Dark Tide” in Cape Town, South Africa. Shortly after, the actors were spotted holding hands and kissing in Paris.
Was it love at first sight? Berry said the chemistry was sizzling, but it grew into love gradually, which, for her, was even better. “It feels more real because of that,” she told InStyle Magazine in 2012.
Custody Battles, New Loves, and Everything in Between
While the Berry-Aubry relationship initially ended on good terms, the ex-couple soon became involved in an ugly custody battle for Nahla. Berry had met a new man – Oliver Martinez, her eventual third husband.
Aubry was livid when Halle attempted to move her daughter to France, where Martinez lived. A judge stopped the move and later ordered Berry to pay Aubry $16,000 as monthly child support. Things got nasty when the actor tried to reduce the child support amount, alleging that her ex had no job and lived on the funds she sent him.
A Hopeless Romantic
Shortly after meeting Martinez, the press spotted Berry rocking an enormous diamond ring around town. Many whispers and speculation later, Berry confirmed that the couple was indeed engaged.
The couple tied the knot on July 13, 2013, at the Chateau des Conde in Vallery, France. She called herself a “hopeless romantic” who wouldn’t stop until she got things right. That same year, Berry announced she was pregnant with her second child at age 41. Their son, Maceo, arrived in the world in October 2013.
The Third Time Was Not a Charm
Reports about an unhappy marriage began brewing just a few months after the wedding. By early 2014, the whispering grew louder, and in August 2015, Berry stopped wearing her wedding ring.
Two months later, the couple filed for divorce due to “irreconcilable differences.” They finalized the divorce in 2017, agreeing to share joint custody of Maceo. “We move forward with love and respect for one another and the shared focus of what is best for our son,” Berry said in a statement to the press.
A Jilted First Ex-Husband Rants on Twitter
Following the news of Berry’s divorce from Martinez, her first husband took to ranting about her on Twitter. David Justice accused Berry of fuelling rumors that he hit her and caused her ear damage. She had long alluded to an abusive relationship without naming names.
He went on to diss her exes on Twitter while also fist-bumping the brotherhood wronged by Berry in solidarity. “Yup...Me, Eric, Gabriel and Olivier were all her ‘Knight in Shining Armor,’ until it ends. Then we all become the worst guys in history,” tweeted Justice.
Halle Berry’s Beef With Bryan Singer
Halle Berry is never one to mince words, even when it involves her co-stars. Among the people, she did not get along with was co-star Bryan Singer on “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” She was not a fan.
Berry publicly stated that he was not easy to work with. She criticized him for lacking focus and dedication while filming. Ouch! Seething anger, frustration, and cussing were common on set.
On Whether Things Had Changed After Her Oscar Win
Berry truly believed her historic Oscar win would open doors for more representation and diversity in Hollywood. But, since Berry’s win, only three African-American actresses were nominated for the award: Gabourey Sidibe for “Precious” (2009), Viola Davis for “The Help” (2011), and Quvenzhané Wallis for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (2012).
During the 2016 AOL Maker’s Conference, Berry described how it was heartbreaking to think that moment was for nothing, and maybe it wasn’t bigger than her.
Her Latest BAE
Three divorces and one long-term relationship later, Berry is in no rush to marry again. But the actor found yet another partner when she met singer Van Hunt. The two instantly hit it off but preferred to keep their relationship under wraps for a long time. In August 2020, Hunt finally posted a picture of them kissing.
As the world slowly limped back to normalcy, the couple began appearing at numerous red-carpet events in 2021, including the Academy Awards.
Taking Charge as a Director
Berry made her directorial debut in 2020 with “Bruised,” a gritty emancipation story of a washed-up, former MMA fighter whose career and personal life are in disarray. The film traces her journey as she attempts to bring her life back on track.
“Bruised” marked yet another milestone in Berry’s stellar three-decade career. On directing a movie: Berry said it was answering the call when destiny knocked and described the feeling as “surreal.” “Bruised” failed to achieve box office success, however. Critics panned the film’s cliched sport movie tropes, calling the film “unsurprising.”
Lessons on Privilege
The Oscar-winning actor received heavy criticism when she revealed she would play a transgender man in her next film. During a 2020 Instagram Live with Christin Brown, Berry shared how she wanted to “understand that world.” In doing so, she consistently used the wrong pronouns and hurt the sentiments of the transgender community.
Critics called her out for a complete lack of sensitivity or understanding. She later apologized and wrote the above post.
A Former UFC Fighter Sues Berry for Damages
“Bruised” bombed hard at the box office. If that weren’t enough, the actor received a double blow when former UFC fighter Cat Zingano sued Berry for dropping her from a movie contract after offering her the role.
Zingano claims she met Berry in 2019 to discuss starring in “Bruised.” Due to conflicting UFC and shooting schedules, Berry allegedly asked Zingano to choose between acting or fighting. She chose the movie, prompting UFC to release her from her contract. Shockingly, Berry refused to cast her after, saying the film would only work with a currently-active UFC fighter. Yikes!