In order to prepare Halle Berry for their fight scenes in the upcoming Netflix movie Bruised, UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko had to put the Oscar-winning actress through the wringer.
Because mixed martial arts is such a skilled sport that requires nothing less than grueling physicality, Shevchenko and Berry had to endure a training camp together that wasn’t all that different from the kind of preparation that goes into a fight in the UFC.
While Berry is a longtime fan of the UFC, watching and doing are two totally different things, which is why Shevchenko poured hour after hour into their training sessions ahead of filming.
“If you are speaking about training, she went not only like just a few months for this movie. She went all of this training for a couple of years,” Shevchenko explained when speaking to MMA Fighting. “She was training like three or four years. She was training muay Thai. She was training jiu-jitsu. She did a lot of preparation before the movie started.
“That’s why about her toughness, I can say a lot. We were training leading into the [filming]. Filming days, we were training in New York for about two months and every single day we were working five hours straight, no rest. We were working different combinations, striking, punching, everything. She was doing this same every month. No resting, no saying anything, just doing it.”
In previous interviews, Berry has talked about the punishment she endured to not only get ready for the movie but then actually going through the fight scenes once production was underway.
The 55-year-old actress said she actually suffered broken ribs from one particularly tough scene that happened during filming but despite the injury, she found a way to keep pushing through until the movie was completed.
“You have to make it not only look real, you have to actually do it real,” Shevchenko explained. “The tiny line between a real fight and a movie fight, you have to work with your partner to feel each other. You have to feel each other to make her confident that it looks like you are throwing with your whole power but you have to know that you’re never going to damage her. But definitely when it’s filming days, we were working for like 12 hours straight doing all the sequences and everyone was tired and definitely it was a lot of pressure. Physical pressure.
“When you are tired, this is when injuries happen because you are kind of like defending the same way that you have to and it’s the same everywhere. When you’re tired, very tired, it’s more chances you’re going to get injured. We did real sparring. We did real training for the fight scenes in the movie. It was an amazing experience working with her.”
While nobody was actually getting beat up during production, Shevchenko and Berry definitely had to orchestrate a fight that would look real enough on camera to then be convincing to an audience.
That means there were at least a few errant punches or kicks that landed despite everybody’s best efforts to make it look good without really exchanging strikes.
In those moments, Shevchenko admits she was really impressed with Berry and wondered if maybe in another life the actress could have actually pursued a career in mixed martial arts.
“I’m honest. She has a lot of power,” Shevchenko said about Berry. “She has a lot of flexibility. She catches techniques very quick, very fast. She has everything. She has everything for being a fighter.”
Because Berry also served as the director on the film, she was involved in every facet of production, which made the hands on approach to the fight scenes that much better.
Despite it being her first film role, Shevchenko is more excited than nervous to see the finished product once Bruised lands on Netflix on Nov. 24.
“Nervous? Definitely no,” Shevchenko said. “I saw myself on screen how I look there, it’s kind of angry. A lot of fury in there. I’m very excited. I’m very excited to see the full movie.
“I know what it’s about but I’ve never seen it completed since it’s already edited and ready to see. Yeah definitely, I’m excited to see it.”