Halle Berry as an MMA fighter sounds like the mind creating some bizarre mash-up of interests in the strange dreams that so many of us have had during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the actress is indeed going to play a debased former fighter making a comeback against an up-and-coming rival while also battling for custody of her child in an upcoming film titled Bruised. Not only is Berry starring in the movie, but she also directed it. And before its scheduled screening (as a work-in-progress) at the Toronto Film Festival, Bruised is close to being purchased by Netflix.

Berry has performed in action films before, such as John Wick: Chapter 3, the X-Men movies, Die Another Day, and Catwoman, and training for those roles required learning several martial arts styles. So she should have no issue looking believable as an MMA fighter. Nonetheless, she trained hard for the role, even working through broken ribs during training.

The script for Bruised was originally written for a younger white woman (Blake Lively was attached to the project at one point), but when it became available, Berry thought it was a great opportunity for her and convinced producers that the story suited a middle-aged Black woman.

“Why not a Black woman?” Berry told Variety‘s Ramin Setoodeh. “It’s an old genre. There’s so many great fight films that have been made. I made the point why it would be worth retelling an age-old story with this new twist.”

And when Berry couldn’t find a director who wanted to make the film she had in mind, her producing partner convinced her that she was the best person for the job.

“‘As an actor, I always show up and do my part, and I can only do what I can do,’ she says. ‘Being the director, I have a part in the totality of every department. I get to have a voice. That was different, and I really loved that.'”

Not only is this movie featuring a Black woman in a role not typically seen on screen, but Berry is also pushing boundaries behind the camera as a female director of color.

As reported by Variety‘s Matt Donnelly, Bruised will be shown virtually at the festival in unfinished form with screeners being sent out to critics. Since the film hasn’t been locked down for a final edit, it’s not certain when viewers will be able to watch it on Netflix. But the streaming provider obviously wanted to buy it before competitors could get a look and make bids, reportedly paying nearly $20 million.

Image via @halleberry on Instagram

[Variety]

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and Asheville's Mountain XPress. He's written for Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.