Action star, Oscar Winner, Philanthropist, Ballerina, Model...is there anything Charlize Theron can't do? Yes. She cannot sing.
Charlize Theron was born in Benoni, South Africa on August 7th, 1975. An only child, Theron was raised by her parents (Gerda and Charles, the latter of which she was named after) on a farm outside of the city.
At 15 years old, after suffering years of emotional and verbal abuse at the hands of her alcoholic father, Charlize watched her mother kill him after he shot through Charlize's bedroom door with a shotgun. It was ruled that her mother acted in self defense, and with Charlize's testimony, was not charged in the incident.
Theron was educated as a ballerina, but soon outgrew the relatively small pool that is the South African arts and performance community. She auditioned in Europe and then eventually the United States where she got a job dancing at the Joffrey Ballet in New York. A knee injury permanently sidelined her dancing career, but she was able to support herself as a photo model.
In 1994, Theron's mother bought her a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. She had an innate persistence that led her to Hollywood Boulevard the very day she landed in LA. However, she wasn't having any luck with agents so she went to the bank to cash a $500 check from her mother. The cashier informed her that because the check was out-of-state, they would be unable to cash it. Being that she perceived the day as a failure, the check issue was the last straw and she made a scene. By some bizzarre coincidence, there happened to be a Hollywood agent in the bank at the time who was so impressed with her outburst that he offered her his card and services, asking in return that she learn English (her native language is Afrikaans). She obliged, and learned the language by watching Soap Operas. If you're wondering why you can't hear an accent when she talks it's because she learned English in the United States, making her natural accent when speaking english an american one.
Her first on screen appearence was only for three seconds in a 1995 B film that no one seems to know the name of. Then came 1996's 2 Days in The Valley and her breakout role in That Thing You Do!, a project that she says is still very close to her heart because she got to work with Tom Hanks, her all time favorite actor.
Theron spent the rest of the 1990's playing (for the most part) the beautiful and occasionally dangerous love interest in films like Trial and Error (1997), The Devil's Advocate (1997) and The Astronaut's Wife (1999).
1998's Mighty Joe Young was different. Theron was only 22 when it was fimed, but she exuded a maturity that somehow hightened the cliched material. The effects used to make "Joe" were also rather advanced, even earning an Oscar nomination. In the film, a mother gorilla and a zoologist are killed, leaving their children (a girl and a gorilla) to fend for themselves. The girl grows up to be Theron's Jill, while the baby gorilla becomes the oversized Joe (think slightly smaller King Kong). As I'm sure you can guess the plot later involves a poacher and a destructive romp accross the city. It might be cheesy, but it's still enjoyable. A great film to watch with your young children.
The last film Theron did before the end of the century was The Cider House Rules, based off a novel of the same name written by John Irving (who also wrote the screenplay). The movie, about a young man raised and trained to be a doctor in an orphanage before journeying out into the world at large, won Michael Caine a Supporting Actor Oscar and John Irving an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film helped show critics that although Charlize Theron has a pretty face, there is a lot more to her than her flawless exterior. Too bad Toby McGuire was distractingly miscast.
For Theron, the year 2000 began with the absolutely average Reindeer Games, which she starred in with Ben Affleck. It's not terrible. I promise. Like I said, it's just very average. Enjoyable (at times), but certainly nothing different or innovative. Next was the slighty better The Yard, which she starred in alongside Mark Wahlberg and Jaoquin Phoenix. She ended the year with Men of Honor (2000)- the true story of the first African American Navy diver and then The Legend of Bagger Vance where she played Matt Damon's love interest in a movie about a magical golf caddy. Believe it or not, that last one isn't as terrible as it sounds.
In 2001, she turned down the lead female role in Pearl Harbor in favor of reuniting with her The Devil's Advocate costar, Keanu Reeves in Sweet November. In my opinion, she was more or less that movie's only saving grace. Unfortunately, the people behind the Golden Raspberry awards didn't agree, nominating her for "Worst Actress." That award ended up going to Mariah Carey for her role in Glitter. What I think is so incredible about Keanu Reeves is that he can pull any actor down to his level. It's truly an underrated superpower. In all seriousness, this movie is not that bad. I actually found myself very emotionally invested in the characters, so much so that I was crying at the end. What can I say? I have an occasional weak spot for sappy romances.
It wasn't until 2003 that she was in a movie worth seeing again. That film was The Italian Job. Although it still wasn't a great movie, it was at least enjoyable. It's an action/thriller of the heist variety starring Mark Wahlberg, Donald Sutherland, Theron, Jason Statham and Edward Norton. The actors were pleasent to look at, the action was adequate, plot was sort of interesting and the dialogue was "slick". Fun movie to watch while working on something else or to drown out the sound of your neighbors having more fun than you are.
OK, whew! We made it. In 2003, Chalize Theron changed the direction of her career from hot getaway drivers and spoiled socialites to the real deal. She heard that Patty Jenkins was working on a biopic of the Florida serial killer Aileen Wuornos called Monster, and requested an audition. People thought it was the most bizzare casting ever. Supermodel Charlize Theron was going to portray this woman?
You're kidding, right? But they weren't kidding, and neither was Charlize Theron. She gained 30lbs for the role in order to feel as uncomfortable in her skin as the real Wuornos did. She endured a day-long hair-frying and thinning session to achieve the dry, damaged and overbleached look that Wuornos had. Theron refused to use a wig. She also had her eyebrows plucked out. The makeup artists painted her skin with layers of transluscent tattoo ink as well as green marble sealant to create additional texture. They fitted her with prosthetic dentures which pushed out her mouth to replicate Wuornos' crooked and decaying teeth, making her face appear wider. Lastly, she wore colored contacts to change the color of her eyes from green to brown. The transformation was astounding.
Her performance was so much more than just a physical transformation, though. She absolutely became the woman she was portraying. Her voice, her body language...Patty Jenkins (the writer and director) called it "transcendent", and that's exactly what it was. She didn't leave even a trace of herself in the character, she just played Aileen. In my humble opinion, Charlize Theron's Oscar Winning turn in 2003's Monster was the single greatest performance (by an actress) of all time. If you haven't seen the movie, it will mess you up. I know it certainly messed me up. But if you're a fan cinema- specifically character studies- it's a must-watch.
No one in hollywood questioned if Theron could actually act anymore, and now they knew the lengths she was willing to go to for her craft. Plus, the title "Academy Award Winner" comes with some perks.
Two years later she was up for another Oscar, this one for the Niki Caro directed North Country. The movie tells a fictionlized account of the first major sexual harrassment case in the United States (Jensen v Eveleth Mines). Theron plays Josie Aimes, a single mom who has to provide for her two children by working in the mines and endures a range of horrible abuse from her male coworkers. North Country boasts an incredible supporting cast as well that includes Frances McDormand, Jeremy Renner, Sissy Spacek, Sean Bean and Woody Harrelson. It is one of my favorite films and is guarenteed to both depress and inspire you. Reese Witherspoon won the Lead Actress category that year at the Oscars, and even though I'm a huge Witherspoon fan who thought she was phenomenal in Walk the Line, I'd say she was more of a supporting actress in it than a true lead. I would have probably given the award to Theron, but you should watch North Country and judge for yourself.
After starring in the film adaptation of the video game Aeon Flux, Theron did a hilarious 5 episode arch on the cult favorite Arrested Development wherein she played a love interest of Michael's (Jason Bateman) with a mysterious past. You can see her in episodes 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of season 3 (available on Netflix).
Charlize Theron starred in 2007's In The Valley of Elah with Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Surrandon. Jones and Surrandon play the parents of a missing soldier and Theron plays the detective who helps them find out the truth about what happened to their son. It's a very thourough and emotional movie. Based on a true story, it details the psychology of soldiers who have physically returned home from war, but are mentally still stuck there. Tommy Lee Jones and Theron are both quietly brilliant and Jones received an Oscar nomination for his work.
That year she was also in Battle in Seattle, which I would basically describe as Crash set in Seattle.
Theron started out 2008 with the family drama Sleepwalking, which seemed to be rather devisive. People either love it or hate it. I thought it had a great cast and the direction was solid, but the writing makes for hollow characters and weak motivations.
Next she played opposite Will Smith in Hancock, which is one of the few superhero films not based on a comic book. Smith plays the title character, an irresponsible drunk who also happens to be a superhero. Well, to be fair, I think his drinking problems actually stem from his powers, so let's cut the guy some slack. Anyway, Hancock has no regard for the city's infastructure and his heroics rack up millions of dollars worth of damage. One day he saves a man (Jason Bateman) who in return wants to help Hancock turn his image around. Bateman's character is married to a woman (Theron) who Hancock feels he somehow has a connection to. I can't say for sure, but it might be my favorite Will Smith movie. Either that or Men in Black. The first one, of course.
The last movie of 2008 for Theron was The Burning Plain. With an excellent trifecta of female talent made up of Theron, Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Basinger, The Burning Plain is a two-tiered storyline detailing the fragmented relationship between mother and daughter. All three female stars give subdued, but emotionally complex performances. The movie itself is a little slow, but once the story starts to come together, it's definitly worth watching. And if you just read this article to figure out where you can see Charlize naked, you can stop reading now becaue you've found your movie.
In 2009, Theron was briefly featured in the dytopian adventure film, The Road as well as the narrorator of the animated film, Astroboy.
In 2011, she starred in the abolutely morbid "romantic" comedy, Young Adult. I love Young Adult, it's funny and well written but it phyically hurts me to watch it. In the film, Theron play Mavis Gary, a hotshot who moves to the "big city" after high school but remains in a perpetual state of emotional adolecents. You are not to root for Mavis, Mavis is an unapologetically terrible peron. Theron absolutely knocks this role out of the park. You might laugh, you might cry, but you'll certainly want to shrivel up into a ball in the corner. This movie is best viewed in horror and delight through the cracks of ones fingers.
Theron took up the mantle of Snow White's evil queen, Ravenna in 2012's Snow White and The Huntsman with Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth. Theron absolutely lives up to Ravenna's title, passionately embodying the vain and calculating villain. Snow White made a lot of money at the box office but was not well received by critics, which I honestly don't understand. I loved a darked take on the fairytale. The performances were solid, the story was well paced, and the visual effects and costumes were stunning. Perhaps people were expecting a live action adaptation of the disney cartoon rather than a more direct Grimms Brothers approach. Anyway, they went ahead with a sequel, so who really cares what the critics thought?
That same year, Theron joined the Alien prequel Prometheus as the self-important captain of the interstellar excursion, Merideth Vickers. If you're at all familiar with the Alien franchise, I'm sure you can guess her fate.
In 2014, Theron played opposite Seth McFarlane in A Million Ways to Die in The West, which he wrote and directed. If you're a fan of the family guy sense of humor, you'll enjoy this movie. If you're not, chances are you'll find it pretty offensive. I liked it because I like Theron, Sarah Silverman, Neil Patrick Harris, Liam Neeson and (occasionally) Amanda Seyfried. It was a fun and irreverent ensamble. It won't make you think, but for stupid humor it's a lot better than an Adam Sandler film. Even those who didn't like it admitted that McFarlane and Theron had amusing chemistry.
In 2015, Charlize starred in the adaptation of Gillian Flynn's novel (my favorite author), Dark Places. Although the book called for a petite red head, they decided to go with the blonde, 5'10 Charlize Theron. Ah well. I was still stoked. Theron plays Libby Day, a woman whose entire family was murdered in her home one night, save she and her older brother, Ben. Ben, (who is played as a teenager by Tye Sheridan and as an adult by Corey Stoll) is sentanced to life in prison for the muders thanks to Libby's testimony. Adult Libby can't hold down a job, has an extremely damaged psyche, and is just generally a defensive, reactionary, emotionally unstable adult 10 year old. The plot weaves back and forth between the present day and the day leading up to the 1985 murders slowly revealing what really happened that night as Libby searches for answers thanks to the the persuasion of Nicholas Hoult's Lyle Wirth. The cast also includes a lively Chloe Grace Moretz and a sympathetic Christina Hendricks. I liked the movie a lot, maybe a little bit better than the book, actually. It's free on Amazon Video right now, so what have you got to lose?
Theron was also in a quaint little independant film Mad Mad: Fury Road. Maybe you've heard of it? I'm kidding, obviously. The visual spectacle that was Mad Max: Fury Road earned about 400 million dollars and 10 Oscar nominations (it won 6). In it, Theron plays Imperator Furiosa, a one-armed road warrior who defies the orders of her leader and leads a runaway convoy containing the society's "breeders" into the desert in search of the family she was taken from as a child. Theron and Tom Hardy carried the movie through gritted teeth and bleeding abdomens. Incredible film. Awesome performance. If you haven't seen it already then you're either a child or...I don't know...weird.
The Huntsman: Winter's War- the sequel to 2012's Snow White and The Huntsman- will open on April 22nd. Theron and Hemsworth are returning, but Kristen Stewart will not be. I don't think I'll miss her, though, especially not after the additions of Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain.
There has been some confusion about the plot of this film because it is both a prequel and a sequel, so let me help you out here. Freya (Emily Blunt) is the warm-hearted little sister of Theron's Ravenna. She wants nothing more than to bear the child of her lover (gross word, sorry), the Duke of Blackwood (Colin Morgan). But there are forces at work who do not wish to see Freya live happily ever after, and when tragedy strikes, it freezes her heart and unleashes a dangerous power from within her. Freya becomes The Ice Queen. She crates her own kingdom where love is forbidden and she kidnapps children- training them to be a great army. She calls them "The Huntsmen", sound familiar? Good. The child leaders of the army grow up (rather handsomely, I might add) to be Chris Hemsworth's Eric and Jessica Chastain's Sara. They fall in love which angers Freya so she separates them with a wall of ice. Then there's a title that pops up on the screen that says "7 years later". The events of Snow White happen in that timeframe. The rest of the movie is a sequel. Get it? Got it? Good.
Charlize Theron wil be adding her voice to Kubo and The Two Strings coming on August 19th. She's also set to star in the spy thriller The Coldest City, a film called American Express whose plot is being kept under wraps, she just signed on to be the villain in The Fast and The Furious 8, and has voiced her excitement at possibly getting to reprise her role as Furiosa sometime in the future.
Action star, Oscar Winner, Philanthropist, Ballerina, Model...is there anything Charlize Theron can't do? Yes. Sing.