Cheat Sheet: Charlize Theron
Date of Birth:
7th August 1975
Place of birth:
Benoni, South Africa
Acting, Modelling, Being In J’Adore Adverts
Mighty Joe Young, The Cider House Rules, Monster, Hancock, Young Adult
What you probably already know:
Although the gorgeous Miss Theron looks like an all-American beauty, she couldn’t be further from it. She was born in South Africa, the daughter of a German mother and a French father, coming to the US to Make It Big aged 20 after it became clear that she didn’t have the physical strength to make it as a dancer. Or the looks. Alright fine, it was probably mainly the strength thing. She’s best known for her unbelievably brilliant portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster; a role that won her an Oscar for Best Actress, as well as begrudging respect from everyone who thought she was just a pretty blonde lass with a funny accent. But even before clutching the Golden Statue of Validation she’d quietly been taking roles that were far more interesting then you might expect – the self-mutilating wife of Keanu Reeves in The Devil’s Advocate, a monkey-loving, shorts-embracing Jill in Mighty Joe Young, and a safe-cracking vengeance-hunter in The Italian Job to name but a few.
And it’s not like she rested on her Oscar-laden laurels after Monster either, two years later she was nominated for Best Actress again, for her role in North Country – a film that told the true story of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States. She’s currently being heralded for her comic brilliance in the upcoming Young Adult, where she plays an embittered, jealous writer determined to claw back the man she believes she deserves from his loving family. Jesus, is she ever just going to settle down and do some horrible rom-com with Channing Tatum? Alright fair enough, her part in Hancock was pretty boring, but come on, even her wishy-washy romance films have WILL SMITH FLYING ABOUT in them.
What you might not know
If Charlize Theron is good at portraying characters with dark depths (and I think we can all agree that she pretty much is), it’s almost certainly linked to the fact that she’s witnessed some dark stuff herself. She was fifteen years old when she witnessed her mother shoot and kill her father in self-defence, a tragedy that she (rather understandably) doesn’t talk much about. But it’s clear that she has always been determined that her experiences would only further her own drive, stating in 2008 that “My father had a horrible disease. He was an alcoholic. I could have been one of those adults who go through life not taking responsibility and saying, ‘I didn’t have an example.’ But actually, I had the best example. I had the example of what not to do. It was up to me to choose a life and to live that life.”
Her unapologetic attitude to life served her well upon her first arrival in LA – she got into an argument with bank-teller over a bad cheque, and was ‘discovered’ there and then by talent manager John Crosby. She sacked him a few years later as he kept pushing her towards films that were more Showgirls than Shawshank, instead deciding to hold out for a smaller part in Tom Hanks’ directorial debut That Thing You Do. Great decision for her, not so great for Elizabeth Berkley (NEXT WEEK’S CHEAT SHEET?).
A dazzling combination of beauty, brains, wit and canny understanding, one only has to watch a few interviews with Charlize (say, for internet article research purposes) to see that she is undoubtedly cleverer than almost everyone she talks to. And – as far as I can tell – the only woman that Zach Galifianakis doesn’t spend all of Between Two Ferns trying to hit on:
Charlize Theron quote
“We don’t go through life with it all being smooth sailing. … We all understand situations where you know it’s swim or drown. It’s a choice you have to make, and sometimes we surprise ourselves, when we actually make that choice and start swimming, with how well we can do it.”
What to say about her at a dinner party
“It’s rare that you find an actress so very determined to fight against her natural beauty, considering her desire to immerse herself in an industry that seems to credit beauty above all. Bravo, I say. Bravo.”
What not to say about her at a dinner party
“She was a right dog in Monster, LOL”
Though there’s certainly no denying that Miss Theron’s beauty is what got her noticed in the film world in the first place, it’s difficult to think of another actress who is so utterly determined to play against stereotype. We can’t wait to watch her in Jason Reitman’s Young Adult proving her comedy credentials, as well as continuing to assert herself as one of the most exciting actresses working today. Hurrah! We’re still allowed to fancy her, right? Hurrah!