Halle Berry’s directorial debut, “Bruised,” premiered at AFI Fest over the weekend.
The film stars Berry as a middle-aged disgraced MMA fighter (Jackie Justice) making her return to the ring. Berry, along with her co-stars, Shamier Anderson, Nicolai Nicolaeff, and more, hit the red carpet to discuss the film. Originally the lead role of Jackie was intended for a young white lead.
Berry chose this film as her directorial debut because the subject matter was something she knew and loved.
“I love the fight game; I have always loved these types of movies. I’ve been a boxing fan since I was a little girl. I love MMA. And once I got to re-imagine this for a middle-aged Black woman like me and create the world…I understood that world. I know what it’s like to make mistakes, to seek forgiveness, to seek redemption. I know what it is to be broken and struggle to put your pieces back together—all those things resonated with me,” said Berry.
Berry really got into the training process for the film, including breaking a few bones. The president of Invicta Fighting Championships, Shannon Knapp, acted as a consultant on the film. She said watching Berry “embrace this role has been incredible. She looked like a real MMA athlete.”
Anderson plays Immaculate, a Dana White type of person within the organization. He gives Berry’s character a second shot to win a championship and reignite her career.
“It’s a great role, a lot of people don’t like me in this role, but I always tell them that Immaculate is rooted in love. He’s that tough uncle, cousin, or brother that just wants you to win. And that’s where he comes from, a place of love,” said Anderson.
When asked what it was like working with Halle and having to be tough on her, Anderson said, “she took it. When we said action and go into that sacred space, there is no ego. She’s genuine.”
Berry had to convince producers that the story she visualized made sense to get the film made.
“When you love something, you can really go far. And quitting is not something that’s in my vocabulary. When I get my heart set on something, quitting is not an option,” said Berry.
“Bruised” makes its limited theatrical debut on November 17, prior to streaming on Netflix November 24.