The Profile Dossier: Charlize Theron, the Baddest Woman in Hollywood
“I am not fearful of the darkness. If anything, I am intrigued by it, because I think it explains human nature and people better.”
For actress Charlize Theron, the darker the role, the better.
Theron has played a murderer in “Monster,” a war captain in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” the “Evil Queen” in “Snow White and the Huntsman,” an assassin in “The Old Guard,” and a ruthless spy in “Atomic Blonde.”
Among many impressive skills, the Oscar-winner is one of the rare actors in Hollywood who does their own stunts. As Atomic Blonde director David Leitch put it: "She's in the top one percentile of actors to do their own action. She's f*cking badass.”
See her in action below:
Though she is the one who seeks out these dark roles, the darkness in Theron’s life hasn’t always been by choice. When she was 15 years old growing up on a farm in South Africa, she witnessed her mom kill her father with a handgun in an act of self-defense. Though she rarely talks about this chapter of her life, she acknowledges that the roles she chooses allow her to access some of her own difficult emotions.
“I don’t know how to play other people’s emotions,” Theron says. “I only know how to substitute my emotions. It’s how I was taught as an actor. I don’t know if I can do a movie unless I really do tap into something emotional with (the character).”
It’s no secret that Theron is wildly dedicated to her craft. For roles, she’s shaved her head, gained 50 pounds in three months, learned martial arts, and suffered serious injuries. She expertly channels her own experiences and emotions into the often complex characters she embodies.
“So it becomes very cathartic, in a great way, because you have to go and turn on some lights in some very dark rooms,” she says. “But that’s the only way I know how to work as an actor. It’s very freeing. I think that’s why a lot of people do therapy. I’ve never been to therapy because I really feel like my acting is that for me.”
Here’s what we can learn from one of the most skilled performers in Hollywood.