The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon has switched to an “at home” format in observance of current social distancing guidelines, and the latest celebrity to be interviewed while at their house was star and director of Bruised, Halle Berry.
After discussing life during the pandemic, Fallon focused his questions on the actress’ latest project, which is set in the world of MMA. Berry plays disgraced UFC fighter Jackie Justice, who is looking for a comeback in the ring, as well as the chance to regain custody of her young son.
“It’s a movie that got sat down on my lap three years ago,” Berry told Fallon. “It was one of those stories that just gripped me. I understood the depth of this woman’s pain, I understood what she was fighting for—it’s very redemptive. I got to rewrite the movie and set it in a world that I understood for a woman my age. It was originally written for a 21 year old white Irish Catholic girl. I got to reimagine it for someone like me, which was really fun.”
Last year, screenwriter Michelle Rosenfarb spoke with Bloody Elbow about the evolution of the character of Jackie Justice. Berry and Rosenfarb did not skimp when it came to researching the sport and background of their protagonist.
Berry also spoke about Valentina Shevchenko, who not only plays her opponent in the film, but also trained with Berry and has become a friend. When Shevchenko defended her title at UFC 247 in Houston, Berry was there to offer encouragement.
Although initial reports referred to her injury as minor, Berry told Fallon she had suffered a fracture. She added, “It’s OK, I always get hurt but I realized that when you go hard, you’re bound to get hurt. When you do your own stunts, you’re bound to get hurt.
Apparently, it was her time in the Octagon with Shevchenko that led to the injury. “In this movie, I was fighting the real UFC flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko, and you know what? She had to throw some real kicks and I had to really take them and that really broke some bones. She’s a beast but I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher, a better scene mate, a better fight partner.”
While Berry may have paid a price in terms of injury, as a director she loved the realism that Shevchenko brought to the table. “Like our referee that was in the movie is a real referee and he said a couple times ‘man I thought I was watching a real fight’ because she brought so much power and authenticity to our fight scenes.”
The admiration is mutual. In speaking with MMA Fighting, Shevchenko said, “It was an amazing experience. Halle, she’s really a wonderful person. It’s very easy to work with her. Like example she wanted something from me and she knew the exact words to make me work as necessary for the movie for my character. I can’t wait for it to be released. I think it should be something very great.”