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Whitfield overcomes fear of playing old

Lynn Whitfield is certainly proud of her performance in "The Wedding," but she wants to make one thing perfectly clear.

"Let it be known that (Halle Berry) is my friend and not my daughter!" Whitfield said.The fact is that Whitfield, 43, is not exactly old enough to be 29-year-old Berry's mother. Through much of the two-part ABC movie, Whitfield plays older than her age while Berry is playing younger than her age.

And it's a role that Whitfield originally refused to even think about playing.

The actress remembered getting the news that director Charles Burnett was interested in having her play the part of Berry's mother in "The Wedding."

"Now that was all I heard in the beginning," she said. "And what I said to my agents I won't repeat now, but their ears were burning."

And, at first, she refused to even meet with Burnett.

"I said that I didn't want to go in," Whitfield said. "That it was ridiculous. And I thought she (Berry) was marvelous, but I was not going to play her mother."

Eventually, however, she was talked into meeting with the director.

"And when I met with him, I said, `Charles, thank you so much,' " Whitfield said. "Because any time a director thinks you're right for something, you're most heartily grateful."

But she also asked the director, "I wasn't even having my womanly functions or anything when Halle was born, so why are you considering me for this project? I don't understand. I'm slightly insulted and in love with the idea all at the same time."

At that point, she learned that she would be playing Corinne Cole from the ages of 19 to 47. "And it all sounded much more appealing," Whitfield said.

Not that she was entirely at ease even after she accepted the part.

"This is scary," she said. "This is one of those bridges that an actress doesn't even want to get to. But it really worked out fine."

And, while she won't admit to any motherly feelings toward Berry, she does admit to plenty of other feelings.

"I gained a friend for life - someone who I really care about and who really cares about me," Whit-field said.

Berry quickly agreed, adding that Whitfield was "the youngest-looking mother I ever had."