halle berry the call

Veteran 911 Emergency Call Center operator Jordan (Halle Berry) has the kind of job that’s not for the faint of heart: navigating the public’s distress in order to save lives. But when a young woman’s frantic report of a prowler ends tragically, Jordan is devastated. Reassessing her life, Jordan wonders if perhaps she’s experienced her last fraught-filled phone call. With a supportive cop (Morris Chestnut) for a boyfriend, maybe it’s time to step back, enjoy life, and teach others the ins and outs of her high-pressure profession. That lifeline to strangers isn’t over yet, though. When average American teenager Casey (Abigail Breslin), is abducted by a serial killer (Michael Eklund), she manages to place a 911 call from the trunk of the killer’s car.

Jordan, leading a group of new recruits through the massive Call Center operation, is in earshot of the call. It’s an all-too familiar scenario for this experienced public servant, but before long, Casey’s situation reveals itself as eerily, shockingly familiar. There’s only one thing Jordan can do: take charge in a way she’s never done before. She must turn Casey into a partner in helping them track down the killer, and prove that this call is Jordan’s calling. ’The Call’ is pencilled in for a March 15th release in the US. Expect an announcement for the film’s UK release soon.

What was it about this role and this story that appealed to you? Also, are thrillers a genre of film you look out for when you watch movies in your own time?

Halle Berry: Definitely, I love thrillers. Right away when I read the script I knew it was something that I related to. I love this genre of film. I love suspense, I love thrillers, I like to be a little bit scared (laughs). But also films with a cerebral content to it, as well. So this was right up my alley. My character Jordan is at the top of her game. She’s established in her job. She’s one of the best operators in the Hive, which is what the 911 center is called in our movie. She’s a happy girl, but then things happen and she starts on a different journey, a life-changing experience. I thought it was such a great role for a woman to play. At first she’s a bit defeated but then throughout the movie she kind of gets her power back. She’s just as much saving herself as she’s saving the little girl.

I can imagine talking to real 911 operators was an invaluable tool beyond the usual process of breaking down a character and creating your own inner life for the role?

Halle Berry: Yeah. I’ve always wondered who these people are and what they look like. And I think that’s one of the elements that makes this movie interesting for people, because as I was talking to friends about the role everyone would be like, “Who are those people? What kind of training do they have, and how do they stay so calm under such pressure?” So it’s been kind of nice to put a face to all these people that do this job. This job was so interesting, in getting to speak to the people that I spoke to that do it. It was a little bit of everybody.

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Did you listen to a lot of 911 tapes, and if so how did that effect how you played this part….?

Halle Berry: I did, hundreds! I also sat in real call centers and listened to them take live calls and I watched how they navigated it. I felt the tension, and for the part I needed to feel what this type of place was all about. And it would be call after call. On weekends it’s non-stop, on Monday’s and Tuesday’s it’s slow days. People get nuts on the weekend (laughs). People get paid on Friday and it goes down.

But some of the calls I’ll never ever forget. I heard a woman being raped, and the perpetrator didn’t know she called 911 and that the line was open. She went through a rape and the 911 operator was listening to most of it before it got disconnected. So you don’t know what happened. And there’s never really a resolve for a 911 operator, they take the call then they send the ambulance, or the police, or the fire department and then once those people get there they have to hang up and go onto the next call. They don’t know if their efforts helped or not. It’s pretty incredible. For me, I couldn’t do it, I would need to find out. I’ve got a tremendous amount of admiration for the people that do that job.

I have to ask, do you take note of all the songs that namedrop you?

Halle Berry: (Laughs) Yes, believe it or not. Someone would always call me up and be like, “Halle, here’s another one.” Then they’d send it to me or tell me about it and I’ll go and listen to it. I think I’ve counted about eight so far. I’m flattered by it, whenever it happens I think it’s funny. I have danced to a song that had my name in it, and that’s weird (laughs).