About The Production
Since the script was completed in early 1995, "Monster's Ball" has been a magnet for top
Hollywood actors and filmmakers. The project almost "happened" at one
studio or another, with this star and that director, with one producer or
another, maybe half a dozen times before the film was finally financed by Lions
Gate Films in the spring of 2001.
"The project was evergreen," observes producer Lee Daniels. "Like many people I became
obsessed with the script like no other. It is a rare script that depicts the
immediacy of life with raw, rugged and layered characters, and actors live for
One of those actors is Halle Berry. "I was attracted to 'Monster's Ball' the first minute I read
the script," she says. "It's a wonderful part. The characters all have
lots of levels, and they present a side of human nature that has always
Berry joined the cast of "Monster's Ball" relatively late in the game, and fought hard to land
the part. A star of many mainstream blockbusters who recently was honored with
numerous awards and critical praise for her portrayal of screen legend Dorothy
Dandridge in an HBO movie of the same name, Berry epitomizes Hollywood glamour.
But there was something about the role of Leticia that drove Berry to pursue it
relentlessly and, like the other cast members, agree to work for a fraction of
her normal salary.
"I felt a deep connection to Leticia's spirit and her heart," says Berry. "I
understand what it's like to struggle and be behind the eight ball and want to
achieve and be successful and make something good out of your life. And I
totally understand being a black woman, especially in the industry that I've
chosen to be in. I can understand the struggle of wanting something so badly but
not really knowing how to get where you're trying to go, and she's filled with a
lot of pain, as I am. For me, the role was being able to tap into that pain in
order to bring the character to life.
"In fact, every part in the movie, no matter how big or how small, is wonderful," Berry says.
These plum roles that so many actors pursued with the same passion as Berry were, it turns out, written
by two actors who were living in Los Angeles and trying to get work. Will Rokos
and Milo Addica partnered to write "Monster's Ball" with the idea that
they could act in the film. They holed up in a Santa Monica apartment and wrote
quickly, initially envisioning a micro-budget production in which they would
star. They shared experience growing up in violent households, and decided that
their film would be about how the cycle of violence can be broken.
But the script became more than a personal project for Rokos and Addica when Hollywood took notice. Top
actors such as Robert DeNiro and Tommy Lee Jones and such directors as Sean Penn
and Oliver Stone were at various times over the last few years attached to the
film, but with these stars came the need for large salaries. And large salaries
made budgets balloon. And ballooning budgets made executives uneasy, causing
them to demands that Rokos and Addica soften certain elements of the screenplay.
These were demands that the writers were unwilling to meet, and as a result
"Monster's Ball" shifted from one home to the next, stewing in its own
unique circle of development purgatory.
Ultimately, "Monster's Ball" would be directed by American independent director
and Swiss native Marc Forster, a graduate of NYU Film School whose previous
feature, "Everything Put Together," had its world premiere at the 2000
Sundance Film Festival. "Monsters Ball" was photographed in the late
spring and summer of 2001 in and around New Orleans and at the notorious
Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola (also know as "The Farm"). The
film is produced by Lee Daniels, with Michael Burns, Michael Paseornek and Mark
Urman serving as executive producers.
"I begged Milo and Will
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