Out November 24 on Netflix and currently in select theaters, Bruised is a gripping sports drama that stars Halle Berry as a retired mixed martial arts fighter looking to make a comeback.
“Jackie Justice (Halle Berry) is a mixed martial arts fighter who leaves the sport in disgrace,” says the official synopsis. “Down on her luck and simmering with rage and regret years after the fight, she’s coaxed into a brutal underground fight by her manager and boyfriend Desi (Adan Canto) and grabs the attention of a fight league promoter (Shamier Anderson) who promises Jackie a life back in the octagon. But the road to redemption becomes unexpectedly personal when Manny (Danny Boyd, Jr.) — the son she gave up as an infant — shows up at her doorstep.”
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ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Bruised star and director Halle Berry about her love of mixed martial arts, the real-life influences on the film, and much more.
Tyler Treese: There’s a line early on where you’re asked if something was necessary and you say it was super necessary. Was that a tribute to Jorge Masvidal at all? Or coincidence?
Halle Berry: It was! I’ve been curious if anybody is gonna pick that up. Yes. That was all a tribute to Jorge Masvidal. That was so necessary. Yes.
The film is so rooted in the love and respect you have for mixed martial arts. At UFC 268, you had the awesome experience of putting the belt around Rose Namajunas and she gushed about that experience. So I wanted to ask what that really meant for you to be able to do that and after seeing such a great fight?
It was an honor and a privilege to be able to do that. You know, having spent three years sort of creating this world and sort of creating my own version of a MMA fighter to really be in the ring in a real fight in Madison Square Garden, there’s no venue bigger and to be in there and feel that energy. To put that belt around her was probably one of the highlights of my life. I have so much respect for the sport for the women of the sport, especially. It meant a lot that Dana allowed me to do that.
You did so much training and preparation for this role. Injuries ramped up and you really sacrificed for the art. As far as just putting yourself in the work, and the physicality of this film, does anything you’ve done before really compared to Bruised?
Not for me. I pushed my body past my limits. I really got to understand what I was made of in this process. I worked harder than I’ve ever worked for longer than I’ve ever worked, and I think I attacked it with more passion than I’ve ever attacked anything. That’s attributed to how much I really do love and respect the sport and the athletes of the sport.
I love that the film highlights Invicta FC, which does so much for women’s MMA. Can you talk about that decision to work with them? It would be so easy to just make up a fake organization, but you put the spotlight there on them.
I think that’s why Shannon Knapp actually was so instrumental in me getting this project off the ground, very, very supportive. I know her story and I know how hard she’s working. When she said that we could use Invicta, right away I thought, “Yes, I want to help shine some light on her and all of her efforts” because she’s really, she’s really doing it. I think making a real difference.
Valentina Shevchenko is great in the film and the fight was amazing. She said it was the five longest rounds of her life. Can you talk about working with her and what you saw in her that made you want to spotlight her and have her serve as that foil?
Well, of course, she’s the champion and who wouldn’t want to work with the champ? But for one, where I would be in her flyweight class if I were really a fighter, so we were the right match up for each other. I knew that for my character of Jackie Justice, I wanted to be a grappler. I wanted to be a jiu-jitsu artist, a ground gamer, and so Valentina is one of the best strikers, I think, pound-for-pound that there is. So I thought we would make a great yin and yang. I could rely on her natural abilities and I could rely on my natural abilities because in all of my training, I found that my ground game proved to be my strongest asset.
What was most difficult about starring in a film that you were also directing?
Trusting that I was getting the best out of myself without someone there to sort of guide me or push me in certain directions, I had to trust that I was ready to do this, that I knew this character inside and out and that I was really getting the best out of myself and that proved to be hard sometimes for me to gauge, but I had to trust my 30 years of acting and everything I know. It’s the only way I could do it.