"The Call" An Interview with Halle Berry and Morris Chestnut

“THE CALL”: An Interview with Halle Berry and Morris Chestnut

Photo's by: Howard Little

On Friday, the film, “The Call” will open in theaters.  The film is about a 911 operator (Halle Berry) who receives a desperate call from a teen-aged girl who is being kidnapped by a serial killer. Will she be able to save the girl or will the man who has her kill again?

Halle Berry and Morris Chestnut were in town recently to promote the film and I had a chance to sit down with them and get their take on the film.

What did you take away from the film?

Halle:

Being a mom I took away a greater sense of how I need to prepare my daughter as she goes, she’s only four now so she’s not trying to go anywhere by herself right now, but it made me realize that as she grows she is going to have to be more hyper vigilant. What this movie represents is real. It really happens, we hear about it on the news. And with this movie you really go on this journey from the point of the 911 operator, from the police, from the victim, from the crazy man that is at the helm of it. So you really get a visual on the horrific experience this is for all involved. And that really was an eye opener for me making this movie and what I need to teach my daughter, and how I move in the world as a woman too. It informed me too.

Morris:

For me it is definitely something I want my daughter to see because now a days with video games and everything on line sometimes I think they are desensitized to everything that could possibly go on in the world, in the real world. Seeing this movie, it’s a simple concept, its simple things that happen but they are very real and very relatable to people, so this is why I hope my daughter will be a little more vigilant after seeing this type of movie.

I loved the way it brought things to the forefront and what to look for in a situation.  I never would have thought to push out the tail light and stick my arm out, or pour something out the hole.  It was a lesson in taking control of the situation.  Halle did you have any idea before going into this movie what a 911 operator goes through?

Halle:

No! Who are these people? I never really thought about it. We’ve heard them in movies before. I’ve had to call 911 before I made this movie too and you’re never really think about who these people are. I used to think they were in a bunker somewhere, like sitting in the dark. When I got to go to a real 911 center, meet the real people; they have families, they’re from every walk of life. They’re young, old, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, men, women, they’re everything. The thing that makes them different is there is something common in all of them; they are very serene and calm, very centered people. And you get that the minute you speak to them. They are a little bit different.  It was fascinating to learn about what they do and see how they actually do it.

You would never think about their losses as well as the elation of saving a life. The one thing I wish the film had gotten more into was the relationship between your two characters.  I couldn't tell what level the relationship was in.  It felt as if it was the beginning…

Halle:

And it was, and it was by design. It wasn't about our relationship and that is why it wasn’t about our relationship. It was there to make us both human and take him outside of his uniform and me outside of 911, that we did have a life outside of that. But the movie really wasn't about that so if it felt like it was the beginning and new then I think that was kind of by design.

Morris:

And it was just an element. There were so many elements in this movie. To me so many different types of relationships. There was obviously Halle’s relationship with Abigail, my relationship with Halle, my relationship with my partner, I mean there were so many different dynamics going on, and that’s just enhanced the whole idea. I mean in this movie, those small little elements made a very simple concept of a 911 operator receiving a call about a kidnapping, very real and very relate-able, so it was all those things put together.

Halle:

Right. It was layered.

Morris:

Layered exactly

Halle:

Little layers of relationships that I think were important.

(I am stopping the interview here to warn you of a possible spoiler alert. We will talking about the ending of the film.  You can skip ahead if you like.)

How did you like the ending?

Morris:

I liked the ending. I loved the ending

Halle:

And you know, without giving it away, it leaves the door open to believe whatever you want to believe. For those who want to think, yeah, they let him rot down there; you can believe that. If you want to believe, “they let him squirm for like two day and then they called the police to come get him,” you can. So it’s whatever you want to believe happens.

Morris:

Did you not like the ending?

At first I was like, “YEAH!!!!”  But when I got home and began really thinking about it, I went into over thought mode.  The issue was, here was a young lady whose life has been changed, never said a curse word, and never did anything wrong, she was pure as milk; and then she does something like this that for the rest of her life she’s going to know that she is a murderer. She is completely changed because she left this man down there to die, even though he did what he did to her.

Halle:

But he almost killed her! And until, I don’t know how you would feel about it, it you had escaped a man…I put myself in that situation and I said, “if someone tried kill me like that, would I really give a #### if he died?” When you’re fighting for your life like that, I don’t know.

Morris:

Right! There are two things though.  One thing I love is you said you got home and once you thought about it. You had one thought when you left and one thought when you got home. It provoked thought. Also we don’t know if he is dead or alive. They may have just wanted him to stew for two days and then they might call somebody to go and get him, so we don’t know what happened, so she isn’t a murderer. We don’t know what happened but it at least provoked thought.

(END OF SPOILER ALERT SECTION. READ ON!)

The whole movie provokes thought and a learning experience.  I didn't know police officers were assigned to 911 centers, the setup of the centers, or the personal relationships between the calls and the 911 operators. What I did love about the film is that your characters are colorless.

Morris & Halle:

Yes, that was really great. Glad you felt that way. It did not matter.

Both of you have children, have you ever thought about doing the Disney or cartoon thing so they can see your films?

Halle:

I was just on Sesame Street

Morris:

Really?

Halle:

Strictly for my daughter (laughter) I was with Elmo.

Morris:

It’s about the project. I've never been approached by Disney to be in any of their movies but it’s all about the project.  My kids are a little bit older, 16 and 14 now so, if it was the right project.

So you would have to do a Twilight Tween type movie 

Morris:

Laughs – Yeah for my daughter definitely Twilight she would love that.

What’s next for you?

Halle:

I’m going to do X Men again.

Morris:

I did a movie called, “Kick Ass” that will be out this summer. I did a season on “Nurse Jackie”

Halle:

You did?  I love "Nurse Jackie'

Morris:

Yeah, I did.  And I am doing the sequel to “Best Man” coming up.

What question have you not been asked that you wished someone would ask?  You are on these junkets and everyone asks pretty much the same questions. Is here one that you in your mind you are saying, “Damn, I wish they would ask me …!”

Morris:

That’s a good question but I can’t really say that I have one. I think most of the time when I am being interviewed, if I have something on my mind I find a way to get it out. So I don’t really have one that wish someone would ask.

Halle:

Me either. Laughs – I have some I wish they wouldn’t ask.

Morris:

Laughs – exactly.

What do you want movie goers to leave the theater with after seeing “The Call?”

Morris:

First and foremost, in my opinion, my ultimate goal is to entertain because I feel that if we thoroughly entertain the audience then they will also learn from it. The reason why so many people run from documentaries is because they feel like, “oh I’m going to have to go there and get an education and listen and learn.” People want to go to a movie and escape. To me the most powerful movies are the ones that get the message across the best, and the ones that entertain the most. If they are thoroughly entertained then each person will have and take away something from the movie they can relate to. 

Halle:

I agree with all of that and I hope they will feel that they just had a good ride. They were on this journey, they were invested in it, it provoked emotion, and it provoked thought. I want them to feel, especially women, empowered after seeing a movie that had two ordinary women who did something extraordinary, which means all things are possible.  I think we need more images of women like that in film so I hope, women especially, will leave feeling like, “YEAH!”, they feel good about it.

Bonnie:

One last question: do you think that Black films, or films that feature Black actors have grown, are growing and getting stronger, or do you feel they have become stagnate.

Morris:

(Sigh) I think the industry overall, the film industry overall, has taken a hit. It’s not as robust as it once was. Primarily to make a hundred million dollars plus movies, or twenty million dollars and below; everything else in the middle has been tapering off along the way. But I think, overall, the film industry has been suffering a little bit.

Halle:

But I also think it’s a good time for it. We’re in an age where Morris can make Best Man 2 after 14 years. I learned from listening from him talk that they've done research and there’s an audience, people want to see that, so that’s a good sign. Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey’s movie; tremendous hit, so I do think Black movies, movies with Black casts, are finding a place and the industry is finally able to see, “Oh there’s value in this. There’s people who really want to see this.” And it’s not just Black people that goes to those movies because the numbers wouldn't be what they are.

Morris:

Exactly

Halle:

People are going to see these movies with people of color and they are excepting it and that is really exciting.

So finally it is becoming a movie with actors of color and not a Black movie

Halle and Morris:

YES!

Halle:

Cause when you first said that I kind of went “hummm”.  But it is changing.

On that note, my time was done and the next journalist was waiting at the door to take my place.  I thanked Halle and Morris for being so gracious and left with an even better understanding of not only the film, but the reasons behind it.  “The Call” opens in theaters on Friday.

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