Why Halle Berry Is Jumping From Big Screen to Small Screen
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because more superstar film actors are gracing your home TV set. And for that, we can all raise a glass.
By Keith Murphy
You may have missed it, but everyone wants to be in TV these days. Whether we’re talking Oscar winning actress Halle Berry showing up on CBS’s Extant, or Viola Davis joining ranks with Shonda Rhimes, this is the hot new future of acting stars.
Berry, that veteran star of Monster’s Ball and the over $2.6 billion grossing X-Men franchise isn’t invading foreign territory. As she leads this summer’s highly trumpeted sci-fi drama Extant, she’s returning to known territory with some TV triumphs under her belt (remember that Emmy-grabbing performance in HBO’s 1999 biopic Introducing Dorothy Dandridge?). But pause for a second to consider what a unicorn moment this is: An A-lister and global beauty icon — who during the 2000s ranked as one of film’s highest paid actresses, commanding between $10 and $15 million per flick — is slumming it on network TV?
With the movie industry dominated by CGI-propelled superhero smash-ups and well-worn sequels, it’s no wonder Hollywood stars are flocking to the medium now producing some of industry’s strongest (and most adult) scripts.
On the surface, it seemed like the 47-year-old talent was all but acknowledging that her days as a Hollywood headliner were over. Luckily, for Berry, that thinking is so 10 years ago. “There is a lot of very well-intentioned and very polite couching of the language in the promotion of Extant,” says Grantland staff writer Andy Greenwald, who covers TV and film for the ESPN sister site. “But from a purely commercial perspective on her career this is a great move.”
Indeed, when Extant premieres July 9, Halle Berry will be the exclamation point to a diverse list of movie stars who have turned to television for a second life. On NBC, Academy Award nominee John Malkovich can be seen hamming it up as legendary pirate Blackbeard. Former comedy “it” girl Anna Faris is gearing up for her second season next fall on CBS’s dark comedy Mom. Kevin Bacon made the switch in 2013 with FOX’s thoroughly over-the-top (and guilty pleasure) serial killer romp The Following.
And there’s more. From Showtime’s House of Lies (Don Cheadle) and Homeland (Claire Danes) to HBO’s True Detective (Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson), film thespians have helped make the once dreaded boob tube into a lucrative platform where critical acclaim intersects with pop culture ascendence. From cable (HBO’s Game of Thrones) to network programming (CBS’s The Good Wife), TV is winning. And Berry wants to be where the hot money is at.
And with the movie industry being dominated by CGI-propelled superhero smash-ups and well-worn sequels, it’s no wonder that Hollywood is flocking to a medium that has been producing some of industry’s strongest (and most adult) scripts. And Berry will have more company. Omnipresent American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez will make her television drama debut next year on NBC’s Ryan Seacrest-produced FBI series Shades of Blue. Jenny from the Block kicking ass in your living room? Now that’s a sight.
Thankfully, we’ve got a steamy Berry to tide us over in the meantime.
- Keith Murphy, Keith “Murph” Murphy spars with brazen hip-hop moguls, Hollywood rebels, revered thespians, redemption-seeking pugilists and more. His work has appeared in VIBE, The New York Post, Billboard magazine, Essence and The Root. He’s a frequent commentator on CNN, Fox News, VH1 and A&E Biography.Contact Keith Murphy