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Halle Berry & TV: A Good Match

By Rich Heldenfels Published: October 8, 2013

As I mentioned in a previous post, Cleveland's own Halle Berry is set to star in "Extant," a series for CBS in summer '14. This has struck some observers as a big deal; a couple of writers at HifFix said it had been "a long time coming," and used it as a reason to note other big-screen actors who should try TV.

Granted that the article did not say Berry had never done TV, and the list of other actors included John Travolta, who first found fame on "Welcome Back, Kotter." But the suggestion that Berry has avoided TV also seems misplaced, and not only because she was appearing in series like "Living Dolls" and "Knots Landing' in the '80s and '90s.

You could easily argue that Berry was at one time a bigger star in TV than in movies. In 1993, around the time her big-screen roles included "Boomerang" and "Father Hood," she was the title character in "Queen," a major miniseries derived from Alex Haley's work. The mid-to-late '90s found her balancing movie work with TV productions like "Solomon & Sheba" and "The Wedding."

And, before the Oscar for "Monster's Ball," the big leap in her career was the HBO movie "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," in which Berry was riveting playing another Clevelander with a complicated life. She won an Emmy for the performance and earned the respect that had not always been available for her movie work.

Even later, after the Oscar and "X Men" and James Bond, (and, OK, Catwoman), Berry came back to TV for "Their Eyes Were Watching God." And, again, she proved what a formidable actress she can be when she chooses.

Granted that was 2005. and  -- aside from executive-producing "Lackawanna Blues" that same year  -- she has not been seen in scripted TV. But those years have also found her facing more personal complications, as well as spotty taste in screen roles. (Two pluses: Her performances in "Things We Lost in the Fire," a wrenching movie, and "Cloud Atlas," where she is fine even when the movie is not.)

 And it may simply be that the roles she wanted were not there -- and now are. After all, she'll be back with the X-Men gang around the same time she is in "Extant." With a role in a much anticipated movie looming, she could easily have waited to see if box-office success led to more big-screen roles. Instead, she is again balancing TV and movies, much the way she has during the rest of her career.


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