How Charlize Theron Became the Action Star of Our Time

The actress stars in the forthcoming 'Atomic Blonde' after a harrowing childhood.

July 26, 2017 11:13 am
Charlize Theron in "Atomic Blonde." (Jonathan Prime/Universal Pictures/IMDB)
Charlize Theron in "Atomic Blonde." (Jonathan Prime/Universal Pictures/IMDB)

Charlize Theron embodies ferocity and female empowerment to such a convincing degree that it’s impossible to ignore the likelihood she’s tapping into a “rich vein of redirected rage,” the New York Times muses in a new profile of the powerhouse actress.

An Oscar winner who has stunned viewers as a compelling action hero in Mad Max: Fury Road and the hotly anticipated forthcoming flick Atomic Blonde, Theron elaborated on why she seeks out an assortment of roles — from serial killers to dramatic leads to romantic interests — and some of it stems from her early life in South Africa, where she was born and raised.

“That was my entire childhood,” Theron said, recalling the agonizing years following by the shooting death of her father, who was a frequently absent and verbally abusive alcoholic. He was shot and killed by Theron’s mother, who began shooting after he came home drunk and started to brandish and fire a weapon at her mother, brother, and Theron, who was then 15.

“My trauma was all of that,” she reportedly said. “I survived that, and I’m proud of that. I’ve worked hard for that, too,” she said. “And I am not scared of that. I am not fearful of the darkness. If anything, I am intrigued by it, because I think it explains human nature and people better.”

She continued, telling the Times: “People like Aileen Wuornos that people just want to label and, like, shove under a rug. Nobody wants to examine that human. Nobody wants to look at that person and say, ‘But why did this happen?’ I’m fascinated by the why. Because in many ways, I am here today because of the why.”

And it’s because of the why that she’s sought out characters who endure, and acquire strength as a result of adversity — though she stressed there are no direct links between her history and characters she’s portrayed.

“I mean, you’d be an idiot not to put it together that I like women who can struggle, and win the struggle, and get out of their situations,” she clarified. “They’re not victims, but they’re also not superheroes.”

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