Oscar-winning actress, Bond girl, and “Catwoman” Halle Berry showed Harvard’s famously bawdy Hasty Pudding Theatricals a thing or two about bawdy Thursday (Feb. 16), turning up the heat on the roast in which she received Hasty’s Woman of the Year Award.
The awards ceremony, which took place in Harvard’s Agassiz Theatre, featured Berry grabbing a breast (her own), a crotch (not her own), and planting a long kiss on a lucky cast member who was trying to talk her into a tiny motorized car.
Harvard seniors John Blickstead, Hasty’s president, and Peter Dodd, vice president of the cast, presided over the annual roast that serves as an award ceremony. They put Berry through a series of tests before handing over the golden Pudding Pot that accompanies the Woman of the Year Award.
The tests were drawn from Berry’s long Hollywood resumé, which includes such acclaimed performances as that of a grieving widow in 2001’s “Monster’s Ball,” for which she won the Best Actress Oscar, and duds such as 2004’s disaster “Catwoman,” for which she won the Worst Actress Razzie Award.
“Catwoman” provided plenty of fodder for the roast, with Berry competing in a dance contest with a doggie villain and having to whip a large picture of actress Michelle Pfeiffer, a rival Catwoman from 1992’s “Batman Returns.” Berry’s sexy performance in “Monster’s Ball” also drew Hasty’s attention, and she was asked to talk her way into a minicar driven across the stage, as she had to in the movie.
Though occasionally risqué, the event was good-natured, and Berry had nothing but praise for the cast members’ talent, enthusiasm, and love of acting.
“Any time you get to laugh at yourself, that’s a memorable moment, and that’s what I got to do today,” Berry said.
Berry, who claimed she’d never had to work so hard for an award before, said that she’d treasure the Pudding Pot and keep it in an honored place beside her Oscar.
The event is part of the kickoff of the annual Hasty Pudding Theatricals production, this year called “Some Like It Yacht,” which will run from Feb. 24 to April 1. Berry joins an august list of performers to be named “Woman of the Year” since the tradition began in 1951. Recent winners include last year’s Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sandra Bullock in 2004, and Anjelica Huston in 2003.
This year’s Hasty Pudding Man of the Year is actor Richard Gere. Gere will collect his Pudding Pot during a roast on opening night for “Some Like It Yacht,” Feb. 24.
Berry began her day in the Hasty Pudding spotlight at 2:30 p.m. – riding in a Bentley convertible surrounded by the men of the Hasty Pudding club dressed in drag – when the annual Hasty Pudding parade stepped off on Massachusetts Avenue. The convertible rolled through the streets of Harvard Square in unusually balmy mid-February temperatures.
The tongue-in-cheek nature of the day was reflected in the parade, which in addition to a marching band, a pickup full of pudding cups, and a big truck loaded with photographers, featured two cows and two llamas.
The parade ended in Harvard Square, where Berry and her student guides were whisked off to a packed Agassiz Theatre in Radcliffe Yard.
“Some Like It Yacht” is the 158th annual production of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. The annual show is a student-written burlesque, with men playing both men’s and women’s roles. Women are involved in all other aspects of the show.
This year’s production will be held at Zero Arrow Theatre, as the 12 Holyoke St. building that housed the Hasty Pudding Theatricals since 1888 is in the midst of a two-year renovation. The show plays at Zero Arrow Theatre through mid-March, moves to Hunter College in New York City for two nights, and then heads to Bermuda for performances March 29 through April 1.
During a Q&A session after the awards event, Berry said it was much more fun than she imagined. She also said, however, that she’s going to have a word with actor Bruce Willis, 2002’s Hasty Man of the Year, with whom she’s working on a new movie. Willis, she said, knew she was receiving the award, but said nothing about what she might face.
“I knew nothing, I came in cold,” Berry said. “I’m going to have to go back and kick him in the butt.”