Main film stars historically attempt to keep away from movies that require gratuitous nudity. However that’s exactly the rationale why Halle Berry selected to headline the hacker-themed motion film Swordfish, which opened in theaters 20 years in the past on June 8, 2001. Halfway by way of the Joel Silver-produced blockbuster, which additionally starred John Travolta and Hugh Jackman, Berry’s thriller lady, Ginger Knowles, greets Jackman’s super-hacker, Stanley Jobson, by dropping her e book to disclose that she’s topless.
It was the primary nude scene of Berry’s profession, and the actress was nicely conscious it was going to be the one factor in regards to the film that anybody could be speaking about. The scene grew to become much more buzzworthy after Swordfish director Dominic Sena revealed that Berry was paid an additional $500,000 — “$250,000 per breast” he reportedly mentioned — on prime of her $2.5 million wage to reveal all.
That’s a extensively reported element that Berry herself has all the time disputed. “If I had been charging for them, it could be much more than $500,000,” she instructed The New York Occasions Journal in 2001. Nonetheless, she’s by no means expressed remorse about having Swordfish on her filmography. “It was such gratuitous nudity, and a few individuals have an issue with that,” she later instructed CNN. “Whereas I used to be making Swordfish, I knew it was gratuitous. I by no means made excuses for it.”
Critiques on the time weren’t variety to Swordfish, and lots of critics singling out Berry’s topless scene for instance of the movie’s overblown excesses. “Regardless of the presence of Halle Berry’s breasts, Hugh Jackman’s towel [and] John Travolta’s soul-patch … the mind-numbing our on-line world thriller Swordfish nonetheless leaves us asking: ‘Is that every one there’s?’” sniffed San Francisco Chronicle reviewer, Bob Graham.
Seen once more at this time, the film is clearly caught between the tip of 1 period of big-budget filmmaking and the daybreak of one other. Launched two years after The Matrix — additionally produced by Silver — reinvented Hollywood motion choreography, Swordfish liberally steals lots of that film’s tips, together with its signature “bullet time” impact. In the meantime, each Berry and Jackman had been contemporary off the success of the inaugural X-Males film, which planted a flag for comedian e book variations as Hollywood’s dominant blockbuster fodder.
On the similar time, although, Skip Woods’s script is overtly modeled after the overblown motion films of the ’80s and ’90s — suppose such classic Silver productions like Commando, Deadly Weapon and The Final Boy Scout. The negligible narrative casts Travolta as Gabriel Shear, the chief of a top-secret group that both perpetuates or prevents terrorism relying on the way you’re capable of interpret his grandiose monologues.
After his standard hacker is captured by the FBI — led by Don Cheadle’s easily-frustrated agent — Gabriel asks his confederate, Ginger, to recruit Stanley from his post-prison exile and help in his newest scheme: recovering funds from the defunct DEA drug-money laundering program Operation Swordfish. However Ginger will not be who she seems. Halfway by way of the film, she reveals to Stanley that she’s an undercover DEA agent whose life could be on the road if her cowl is blown.
Since gratuitous nudity was a staple of Silver’s ’80s motion films, it’s no shock that he took level on incorporating it into Swordfish. Talking with Leisure Weekly in 2001, the producer mentioned that he strongly inspired Berry — who had a small function in The Final Boy Scout as an unique dancer — to make this the movie the place she reinvented her display picture.
“I’ve identified Halle for years, and I felt this was time for her to do that,” Silver remarked. “I feel it’s cool for the character and good for the field workplace.” He wasn’t solely fallacious on the final level: Swordfish completed its theatrical run with a strong $150 million worldwide gross, though it was handily dwarfed by effects-heavy summer season films like The Mummy Returns, Jurassic Park III and Pearl Harbor.
Berry had her personal causes for agreeing to Silver’s supply — none of which concerned an additional $500,000. In addition to the box-office success of X-Males, the actress had additionally lately collected her first Emmy and Golden Globe statues for her star flip within the HBO film Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, based mostly on the lifetime of the groundbreaking Black singer and actress. With these awards in hand, Berry felt emboldened to push herself to strive issues she particularly prevented as a youthful actress within the enterprise. “With the success of my Dorothy Dandridge undertaking and the important acclaim that introduced me, I lastly felt that I didn’t must show myself anymore,” she instructed EW.
In one other interview with Cinema.com, Berry described how a lot she loved enjoying the “attractive lady” function. “I’ve by no means actually explored that a part of myself on display earlier than. For therefore a few years, I mentioned, ‘No, no, no,’ and loads of it was not being snug with myself, being afraid and questioning what individuals would suppose. Lastly, after the final couple of years of my life, I type of shed myself of all of these worries and I really feel actually, actually good about it.” She additionally took the chance to set the report straight on Sena’s remark about her $500,000 bonus. “I’d promote these infants for far more cash.”
One would possibly even argue that Swordfish is the rationale why Berry received her first Oscar. Six months after the film got here and went from multiplexes, the actress returned to the massive display in Marc Forster’s acclaimed drama Monster’s Ball, enjoying the troubled spouse of a Demise Row inmate (Sean Combs) who turns into concerned with the jail guard (Billy Bob Thornton) who participated in his execution. The function demanded that each actors to strip down for a uncooked intercourse scene that’s gentle years faraway from Swordfish’s Maxim-level topless scene.
However Berry made it clear she couldn’t have made one movie with out the opposite. “I most likely wouldn’t have been capable of do the intercourse scene in Monster’s Ball if I hadn’t proven my breasts in Swordfish,” she instructed the New York Occasions Journal. “We shot the intercourse scene on Day 19 of a 21-day shoot. I all the time say Billy Bob and I dated for 3 weeks after which we had intercourse. The intercourse scene scared me utterly, however braveness is available in unusual methods. I take a look at it now and I feel, ‘Who’s that lady up there?’”
Launched on December 26, 2001, Monster’s Ball grew to become a giant participant in that 12 months’s awards race, with Berry successful Finest Actress honors from a number of critics teams, in addition to the Display screen Actors Guild. All of it culminated in her historic Oscar Evening victory on March 24, 2002, when she grew to become the primary — and nonetheless solely — Black actress to win the Finest Actress statue. “This second is a lot greater than me,” she mentioned in her tearful speech. “It’s for each anonymous, faceless lady of coloration that now has an opportunity as a result of this door tonight has been opened.”
For sure, Berry didn’t give Swordfish a shout out in her Oscar speech. However she has embraced Ginger’s “attractive lady” legacy in her in style Instagram feed, the place she frequently posts bikini photographs and different revealing snapshots. “I take a look at it as storytelling in a small medium,” she instructed Yahoo Leisure in 2019 about her method to Instagram. “[Instagram] was a spot for photographers and artists to point out their work, and now it’s turn into one thing all the best way totally different. However I like to take a look at it from that perspective nonetheless: It’s about storytelling and pictures and wonder.”
Swordfish is at the moment streaming on Netflix.
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