The film is an adrenaline rush from start to finish, and as one female audience remember noted to EUR/Electronic Urban Report correspondent Ny MaGee during the advanced press screening, “Halle is about to give me a heart attack!”
After the screening, our conversation turned to the woman’s child and how she’s going to make her son watch “Kidnap” to teach him a lesson about what can happen if you “run away from mommy.”
The woman shared how her son has a habit of taking-off in the opposite direction (out of pure excitement) anytime they are out together in public. She joked how she’s going to take him to watch this film and warn him that he’ll “end up in the hole” (a reference from the movie) if he continues to disobey.
When I sat down with Ms. Berry to share with her the colorful conversation I had with this mother, and how ‘Kidnap” can be used as a teachable moment for children, Halle agreed; saying that she hopes her latest project makes parents “think more deeply about what they’re teaching their children and how they’re describing to them how kidnappers are.”
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She then referenced “a social experiment” video that’s on YouTube — a must see for all parents, in which (as Halle describes): “This guy goes to a park and the mothers are sitting there and he goes to the mom and says, “Which kid is yours?” And she goes, “That one.” And he goes, “Okay, if I go up to your kid right now and ask them to come off with me, what do you think they’ll do?” And she goes, “No way is he coming. I’ve talked to him about this. They are going to come to me or they are going to start screaming.” So he goes, “Okay.”
Halle continues to explain the video: “So he goes to the kids and he’s got a little puppy and he says to the kids, “Hi! Look, do you like puppies?” And the kid goes, “Yeah.” And he goes, “Do you really like puppies? Cause I got a whole bunch more over there? Do you want to come see them?” And the kid goes, “Yes,” and walks off with the guy’s hand. And the mother is sitting on the bench like: “But I talk to my kid every day about this.”
“So I think the message is, we gotta really make our kids understand that kidnappers don’t look like kidnappers,” she says. “They don’t look like bad guys. They look like everybody.”
Ms. Berry suggests parents take their kids through some “stranger danger” role-playing activities, and it’s an experiment that she herself is prepared to put her own kids through to “scare them straight.”
“I’m gonna hire some man that looks like Santa Claus come with a puppy and see if my kids will go off and and let them throw ‘em in a car and say “you’re never gonna see your mother again,” for about four-minutes and then mommy’s gonna come up and say, “Now see, this can happen to you.”
She added, “I think kids might need, like you said, an experience to relate to cause otherwise it’s just words for kids. They don’t really understand it like we think they do. They need some role play.”
Despite “Kidnap’s” R-rating, this is a family friendly film that even Halle’s 9-year-old daughter has seen.
“It’s only got this R-rating because “kidnapping,” they said, is “R.” But there’s no blood and gore. There’s no cursing in it. It’s only “R” because the nature of kidnapping is kinda of harsh,” she says.
“But other than that, I think this is a movie children should see. My daughter has seen it, and my son, he’s only 3, maybe when he’s five — he wouldn’t really understand it now, but when he can understand it, I’m definitely gonna let him see it. Well, I’m gonna do a social experiment on him before this movie anyway, but I will let him see it, for sure.”
When our conversation turns to her adorable co-star, Sage Correa, Halle shares the type of advice she generally offers to stage parents.
“You know… parents always hate me when their kids do movies with me because I’m anti-kids being in movies. I’m like, kids should be kids, not working. They should be somewhere playing, something other than working, which is what grown-ups do. But the truth is, we need kids in movies and so it’s a necessary evil,” she states.
“But I try to just make sure that the kids are nurtured, that they’re taken care of in this space. That they’re always treated like kids in an adult environment because sometimes people can forget that kids are kids, and they start treating them and asking things of them that you would ask of an adult, and you just can’t,” she stresses.
“So I’m an advocate for just letting kids be kids. When they say they’re tired, let ‘em go. Don’t make them do it over and over. If a kid is tired, that trumps. Let that kid go. I want the kids to go back to their mothers and fathers the way they came. I’ve seen kids be traumatized from the movie making process when they’re not protected and really treated as children.”
Halle Berry executive produces “Kidnap” with her production partner, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, via their 606 Films company, which she launched in early 2014 to produce “socially conscious” work.
Despite the film previously having a 2016 release date and then being pushed back to early 2017 — and then being delayed yet again, all due to the parent studio of the film’s distribution company, Relativity Media, experiencing financial drama — which included lawsuits and a Chapter 11 bankruptcy — Halle said working on this film provided her with the type of creative freedom rarely experienced on a studio-backed project.
“I think as a woman, we find that we can have a voice, and if it’s a smaller budget we can have control. We don’t have a big studio telling us how to do it, how to make it, how to say it. We have a bit more control and that’s what I’ve found from making movies like this. There was no studio that we had to answer to. It was pretty much independent until distribution came. So I think there’s more freedom, as an artist, making movies like this.”
Berry, who won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the romantic drama “Monster’s Ball,” is the only black woman to receieve the honor. Before becoming an actress, she was a model, and at one point she was one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood during the 2000s. Her breakthrough film role was in the romantic comedy “Boomerang,” alongside Eddie Murphy. Her performance in “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” earned Ms. Berry the Primetime Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Movie.
Despite garnering high-profile roles in films such as the X-Men film series and the spy drama “Die Another Day,” Halle says she ready to “go back to my BAP days.”
“B.A.P.S” is a 1997 comedy directed by Robert Townsend, in which Halle co-starred alongside Natalie Desselle-Reid as waitresses in a soul food diner in Decatur, Georgia. Their dream is to open the world’s first combination hair salon and soul food restaurant. The movie is a cult classic today, but upon initial release, it was a critical and box-office failure.
But it’s her role as Nisi (in “B.A.P.S”) that Halle says serves as the perfect example of the type of woman she enjoys playing in her career now because of the “freedom” she felt while exploring this character.
“As women, we’re so complicated and I don’t think that complication nearly gets out as much. I mean, we know it but do we always see that depicted in a film in away that it really is? I don’t think so. And that’s usually because there’s some man writing about our experience and they get it wrong,” she says.
Continuing, “I would love to see more women start writing about our experience. If I could go back, I wanna go back to my BAP days. I wanna go back and have that kind of freedom, to be that silly on film and be that brave, ‘cause that was a time in my career when I didn’t care what anybody thought. That was a free time and I hope I can find my way back to that at some point.”