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Charlize Theron : The Making of a Movie Star

Charlize Theron

The making of a movie mainstay, and how career and life interact perfectly for Charlize Theron, writes Danny Bowman.

In mid-1994, Charlize Theron ’s mother went to the travel agent and bought her daughter a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. That ticket, together with a cheque for $500, was to start the actress on her way to becoming a star.


In the first 12 months all the 19-year-old had to show for her parent’s endeavour was a three-second, non-speaking role in the B-movie sequel Children of the Corn III. Yet from there, she began to get bigger roles in films such as The Devil’s Advocate in 1997 with Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino; alongside Bill Paxton a year later in Mighty Joe Young; and then 1999 film The Cider House Rules, starring with Tobey Maguire and Michael Caine.

Theron’s biggest acknowledgement from her peers undoubtedly came in 2004 when she won the Academy Award for her portrayal as infamous Daytona Beach prostitute-turned-serial killer Aileen Wuornos, in Patty Jenkins’s brilliantly-disturbing biopic Monster. Theron had gained over two stone in weight to play the role. 

Now, in 2020, her star has never shone brighter. In recent Academy Award winning Bombshell, Theron transforms into journalist and former Fox News anchor, Megyn Kelly and is almost unrecognisable as herself, so much so the internet thought it was Kelly playing herself. 

“I do sometimes pinch myself and wonder how I have ended up here,” she says. “It remains a dream for me and I am undoubtedly most at home when I’m on set. I mean, it’s a little bit like a circus because everybody collaborates and works together towards the same thing. I kind of like that and then it’s a little heart-breaking when everybody packs up and just leaves, but that’s the industry.”

Charlize Theron

Such a philosophical slant on life is clearly what keeps the South African moving forward even when the industry’s preconceptions suggest she may be wanting to take more of a backseat. In reality, at 44, the Transvaal-born actress still has so much more to give.

“Age used to concern me but it really doesn’t anymore. I think we are living in society now that has the intelligence and the maturity to look beyond age. I wouldn’t have been able to say that in the 1990s and even the first part of this century, but I am confident that is the case now, and we should all be reaching out looking to extend and expand on what we have.”

Theron, who lives in LA with her two adopted children, August and Jackson, admits she is also at peace with herself in terms of the work/homelife divide, and feeling as though she is present enough for those who depend on her. “I wrestled with it for a long while and I needed to figure out a good way to keep making films and not let that affect how I wanted to raise my children. Ultimately, life is a constantly evolving process. I’ve learnt that I need to keep working hard and be very attentive to every aspect of my life if I want to be happy and have peace of mind. 

“Ultimately, I insist on making sure that I always get to be with them when they get up in the morning, having breakfast with them before they go to bed. 

“When mom goes away it’s because she really wants to go and do this and they are usually with me on that, so it’s a family affair, and that works on all sides. I can move forward and still have that experiences I want, and they are there looking on and savouring this special event.

“Obviously there would be less complicated ways of doing a job, but less rewarding too, so who in their right mind would want that?”

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Alana Lowes

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