Actress Halle Berry talks directorial debut ‘Bruised,’ fight sequences, collaborating with directors

Noah Levine, Life and Arts Film Columnist

Legendary actress Halle Berry steps into the directing chair for Netflix’s “Bruised.” The film follows washed up mixed martial arts fighter Jackie Justice (Berry) as she fights for redemption in the ring while trying to care for an abandoned son that reenters her life. 

The Daily Texan attended a college journalist roundtable to speak with Berry about her work on the action-packed sports drama. 

The Daily Texan: As the director of this film, how much insight did you have into the choreography of the pivotal MMA fight sequences throughout? 

Halle Berry: I love the sport so much, I’ve been a huge MMA fan for a very long time. I did enlist the help of a former MMA fighter who works in movies now (and) works a lot in the “John Wick” series and (does) a lot of big action movies. He was key in choreographing the fights. While I studied martial arts for the film for a couple of years, I could’ve never choreographed the fight. I trusted him to be able to do that. My only direction to him was, “This has to be so real that people think they’re watching a real fight. I want it to be seamless. I don’t wanna just do big flashy moves that we see in movies. I really want to pay homage to the sport. I want to do high level MMA.”

DT: What’s one thing you wish directors knew about actors? 

HB: You can really get more out of us by talking less. Sometimes directors pontificate and pontificate and pontificate. They give you too much information. I wish directors took an acting class. They could learn the language of actors. Find some key words to give them and let them internalize what that is and let it come through their body in a natural way for them. It might be different then what you, as a director, see in your head, but you have to give over to the process. Let the performers at some point take the characters and run with them. You have to support them in doing that. 

Nicholas De Lucca, The Panther: With UFC fighters Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes in the film, what was it like working with them and was it hard to keep with their endurance and physicality? 

HB: I was well prepared, at least, to keep up with them. To be in a real fight? No, I was not prepared to do that. The training we would do for five hours a day. Valentina and I trained for about two months. We did a real training camp. We did a real weight cut. We did all the things she would really do preparing for a fight. That was really fun for me. I had been training for two years before we finally got together, so I was physically in the best shape of my life, used to working hard, training long hours. So, for that part of it I was good to go. But to really have to fight with one of these ladies? No.