By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated December 27, 2001 01:55 AM

And now it’s Billy Bob Thornton’s turn to discuss the intense love scene he shares with Halle Berry in their latest, “Monster’s Ball,” which opened in L.A. and New York this week. The film is a dark drama about racism and capital punishment and has already yielded Berry, 33, the National Board of Review’s award for best actress of the year. Yet the sex scene in question is so graphic that a minute had to be snipped from it in order to avoid an NC-17 rating. “I would only do it if Billy Bob agreed to be as naked as I was,” Berry told The New York Times in an interview that was published last weekend. Meanwhile, Thornton, 46, has told the Associated Press that he and Berry were able to pull off the scene because they both have stable personal lives off-camera. Thornton is married to Oscar winner Angelina Jolie, 26. (It is his fifth marriage.) Berry is married to singer Eric Benet, 35. (Her second marriage, after a rocky relationship with previous husband, New York Yankee David Justice.) Said Thornton to the AP: “I know who Halle is in real life. Halle is a woman who has a great marriage and has a great husband, who I know, and she’s a stepmom. She’s real focused on her life and real focused on her family.” As for himself, Thornton said, “I’m in exactly the same situation. I’m in a family that has a stepmom, and I’m a father, and our life is very important to us.”