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Friday 29 August 2014

Claire O’Mahony: Halle will always be defined by her bitter custody fight

Actress faces a major challenge bouncing back from feud over daughter, says Claire O’Mahony

Published 03/12/2012 | 17:00

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It's not impossible for celebrities to recover from scandals. Sometimes they even work in their favour – there's nothing the public likes more than tales of addiction, affairs and hitting rock bottom, provided that said celebrity accompanies them with a mea culpa and a tell-all appearance on a TV chat show.

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And we have fairly short memories. We tend now to think of Michael Douglas, happily married to Catherine Zeta Jones, as a doting husband opposed to the man who checked into a rehab facility for sex addiction during his first marriage. And Kate Moss has risen like a phoenix from the humiliation of her 2005 drug scandal, with her assets almost tripling last year to more than £12m (€14.8m).

But in the case of Halle Berry, it's difficult to ascertain how she will bounce back from the horrible and shocking incidents relating to ongoing disputes over her four-year-old daughter, Nahla, with Gabriel Aubry, the French-Canadian model who she dated for five years.

The bitter battle between the two former lovers resulted in a physical altercation in the actress's home between Aubry and Berry's fiance, the French actor Olivier Martinez. The result was significant bruising to Aubry's face, as well as fractured ribs and stitches, while Martinez – who comes from a family of professional boxers – damaged his hand. Cue arrests, restraining orders, accusations of death threats (Aubry said Martinez threatened to kill him unless he allowed Berry and her daughter to move to France) and general unpleasantness.

The latest twist in this disagreeable tale is that the actress and Aubry have reached an 'amicable' agreement, with Berry dropping the temporary restraining order against the model and agreeing to pay all the legal and medical bills he's incurred, although the case is still set to go to court later this month.

The whole affair has come to define what we think of when we think of Berry as opposed to an Oscar winner (she is the first African American woman to take home the Best Actress award) and one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood.

In the past, she has been very open about personal issues in her life. She revealed how she was so depressed after the break-up of her marriage to baseball player David Justice, that she considered suicide.

She was also candid about her struggle to conceive, before she finally became pregnant with Nahla, at the age of 41. Appearing on 'The Oprah Winfrey Show', she spoke about how she superstitiously kept all 34 negative pregnancy tests before finally getting a positive one, and of the process of becoming pregnant, she said: "While I was trying to get pregnant, we tried really hard, so it was a lot of staying home and just doing what you do."

Such frankness is unlikely to be seen when she does the publicity circuit early next year for her latest film, 'Cloud Atlas', although questions about Martinez/Aubry/ Nahla will be all that journalists will want to ask.

Recently there have been rumours that Berry will quit acting altogether for the sake of her daughter. She originally wanted to move to France with Nahla and Martinez because of the strict French privacy laws, but a court ruling, which stopped her from moving there permanently, vetoed this. The actress is said to be fearful about the effect that her celebrity status has on her four-year-old and that by giving up her career her daughter will have a more stable upbringing.

But the trappings of celebrity have little to do with the current situation that Berry finds herself in. Her relationship history has been a tumultuous one. She previously revealed that a previous boyfriend hit her so hard that she is still largely deaf in one year. Her marriage to David Justice ended with her issuing a restraining order against him. Another ex-husband, Eric Benet, is said to have slept with at least 10 other women during their marriage, including two of her close friends.

Despite once describing Aubry as a man "of integrity", their custody battle for Nahla has proved to be one of the most vicious that Hollywood has ever seen and now her fiance Martinez has demonst-rated that he is capable of violence, even if Aubry did throw the first punch, according to police reports.

It would seem to suggest that the Most Beaut-iful Person in the World, as she was once voted by 'People' maga-zine, hasn't been lucky in her choice of partn-ers and celebrity doesn't have a whole lot to do with that.

Irish Independent

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