Saturday, May 27, 2006
Celebrities -- they're the real mutants, right? Earning those superhuman salaries. All those henchmen and T-Mobile Sidekicks. No reservations necessary, ever. Perfect little bodies. Neato vehicles. Transfixing us with their eyes and sparkly handbags and then distracting us with their divorces, while slipping 10 bucks out of our pockets every blockbusting weekend for another bad movie. Citizens, something must be done! We must rise up and take a stand!
"You know, that's interesting," Halle Berry says, thinking it over, the celebrity species as a metaphor for those perpetually powerful yet ultimately flawed other kind of humans. "It's a little bit like that, yes."
We are 50 floors above Central Park on a recent afternoon, and wouldn't it be great if this serene, impossibly gorgeous actress jumped up, kicked out the window, leapt out into the sky and landed like a lightning bolt in Columbus Circle? She's dressed for it: dark curls spilling down her shoulders, over a black, very low-cut hand-knit sweater, with tight indigo jeans and shiny, silver stiletto boots. Sorta like Ororo Munroe (code name: Storm), the mutant she plays yet again in "X-Men: The Last Stand," which opened yesterday. Or like Catwoman. (We are allowed to say the word "Catwoman" in this interview, right? Without, like, a $1,200 manicure suddenly raked across our cheek?)
An assistant knocks on the door: "Excuse me, Halle, did you want hair and makeup to come check you out right now?"
"Nmmh-mnnh," Berry, 39, gently answers in the negative, but the implication hangs in the room: What foolish mortal is this who wants to know if Halle Berry needs more makeup?
Yet for all their skills, mutant celebs have weaknesses, too.
That's the ongoing "X-Men" subtext in Marvel Comics and the movie versions -- what seems like a good superpower to wield nevertheless brings a measure of personal misery. What better way to describe being a star? "You do feel somewhat mutantlike, I think," she says, "because you've chosen this profession, you're not allowed a basic sense of privacy . . . of personal space."
You could easily defeat Halle Berry: Simply have her ride the elevator down and turn her loose, all alone, with no phone, no cash. Almost immediately, Berry guesses, she would be surrounded. People would want pictures or autographs. Gawker Stalker would post her GPS coordinates online. She wouldn't make it two blocks.
She laughs. "Now, if I had a hat and sunglasses and a pair of old jeans, I might get to SoHo. If I walked out looking like this, I wouldn't. But I would love nothing more than to have it out in the world. I love people. But that's the bad that comes with good, it's true. Sometimes you wish that didn't come with it."
For example, Berry thinks nobody spotted her the previous week on St. Marks Place in the East Village, inspecting a new restaurant/nightclub about to be opened by her current boyfriend -- hottie model Gabriel Aubry, 30 -- and other investors. Her eyes bug out when we bring it up. (Which reminds us, if you see Halle Berry on a street, anywhere or anytime, feel free to quote that cracked-out Whitney Houston skit from "Mad TV" years ago: " I see you, Halle Berry!!")
Red carpets both enthrall and unnerve her, depending on her mood. She says she has no movie star friends, although she "lights up like a tree" whenever she bumps into Renee Zellweger on a red carpet. "Or like Denzel Washington. Jamie Foxx. There's just certain people. Oprah. I love seeing them in this fake world that we exist in."