As far as Comic-Con royalty goes, few have as many jewels in their crown as the Oscar winner. Halle Berry has been frequent visitor to the San Diego Convention Center with features like 2003’s Gothika and her Storm role in the X-Men franchise. Now starring in CBS’ Extant, the Monster’s Ball actress returns Thursday after a two-year absence from SDCC for the debut panel of her sci-fi series, which just had its Season 2 premiere on July 1. The Extant panel is part of a multi-show multi-hour presentation that CBS is putting on that also includes the Bradley Cooper-produced upcoming TV version of Limitless plus Under The Dome, Zoo and Scorpion. Berry also is expected to appear at Fox’s July 11 big-screen panel where, 15 years after the first X-Men flick laid some of the foundations of the superhero movie resurrection, footage from the home entertainment X-Men: Days Of Future Past – The Rogue Cut will be shown. Rogue Cut also has a full screening that night at San Diego’s Reading Theatre.
The only African-American woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress, Berry spoke with me about revamping her CBS show, pushing boundaries and how she would love to see a certain weather-manipulating mutant get her own movie.
DEADLINE: A week into your second season and bringing the show to Comic-Con with CBS, what’s your perspective on Extant?
HALLE BERRY: For network TV, I feel like this year we tried to push every envelope and said let’s act as if we’re a cable show but we’re on CBS. How far can we go? Let’s push these limits. Luckily, CBS let us go pretty far this year
DEADLINE: You guys certainly changed things a lot from Season 1…
BERRY: It’s a brand new show. As often happens with the first season of a show, we had to figure out what we were meant to be. When I signed on to do Extant, we had a pilot. We didn’t have the 12 subsequent shows, so it was the idea of a pilot.
This year we got a whole reboot, we got new writers, new show runners, new actors. It’s a lot edgier this year. Its still sci-fi but it’s not so latent with the science fiction of it all that we forget about the characters. This year it’s character-driven, it’s sexy. There are storylines all colliding together that give Extant some meat and some juice still with all the wonder of the future, with all the gadgets of the future. It feels very modern and very fresh. We’re still dealing with aliens, other life forms from other universes. We’re dealing with AIs, which we call humanics, robots and their uprising and what would actually happen if that were to come to pass. So the story is much more dramatic and I think people will connect to in a deeper way.
DEADLINE: What was it like for you as primarily a big screen actor making the leap to a weekly TV series?
BERRY: It was tough last year. I sort of got my sea legs, as they say. I was nursing my two-month-old baby when I started. The hours were brutal. I just was like a deer in the headlights. This year I was much more prepared.
DEADLINE: You have seen the ups of the superhero genre with X-Men’s successes and the downs with Catwomen, which earned you a Razzie. For women, and even more so women of color, what’s your take on breaking through the barriers of the caped boy’s club and Hollywood overall?
BERRY: I think it’s really important that we keep forging ahead. Being women of color, not necessarily letting our color precede us but just search out strong, character-driven, complicated roles that we can play. We no longer have to be in the background or be the sidekicks. If we continue to fight for those kinds of roles knowing that at the same time you’re going to have to face a certain amount of failure or ridicule. Any time you risk big you often risk losing big. You can win big but you can also lose big, but you have to be willing to take those risks.
I think I’ve always been willing to take those risks to move us forward, especially women and then women of color. Sometimes it’s worked out and sometimes it hasn’t but it doesn’t mean that every try hasn’t been worth it. That’s what evolution is. Sometimes you don’t get it right but it doesn’t mean you stop.
DEADLINE: So in that theme of never stopping, we’ve seen Wolverine movies but would you do a Storm movie?
BERRY: In a heartbeat. In a heartbeat I would do a Storm movie. I love that character through and through. So if that ever became an opportunity for me if it’s before I’m 65-years old I would absolutely do that.
DEADLINE: It just seems remarkable coming out of the X-Men movies, that Fox has never done it and expanded the franchise
BERRY: Well, I think they should do it. If the fans want that the fans need to speak up and I’m sure it would be a possibility. If Fox felt like they could make money off of a Storm movie I’m sure they would do it.
DEADLINE: Though this year is your first time for a TV show, you’ve been to Comic-Con several times, what’s it like for you?
BERRY: Comic Con is a place I actually love going. I’m kind of disappointed when the years go by that I don’t have a reason to go. It’s all about fans and it’s the one opportunity that I have found where I can just connect to, relate with, talk to my fans, people that are diehard. For me it’s always been a really feel good event where I get to really touch the real people that really watch what I do and appreciate what I get to do and I get to do it because of them.
DEADLINE: What were some of the difference from when you first came to Comic-Con and when you were last there in 2013 with Days Of Future Past?
BERRY: I’m finding that I have younger, newer fans that are familiar with my work. Some of them have seen all of my work. I’m like you’re 16 ears old and you’ve seen every movie I ever made, really? So it’s interesting to see how it’s evolving.
DEADLINE: Does that kind of fan reaction feel weird to you?
BERRY: Yes and No. I pride myself in being somebody that has pushed the envelope and done things that people don’t always think I should do. But I’m one to always try to break those stereotypes and march to the beat of my own drum and do what I want to do. Kind of like when I showed up to receive my Razzie Award for Catwoman. I don’t think anybody would have even done that. I’ve always just done things on my own terms and don’t take myself all that seriously. I never put myself in that box of you’re an Oscar winner so you can only do this or that. That’s one award, one night, and it does not define my career or it does not define me as an artist. I never wanted to get put in that Oscar box because that’s a lonely place to be.