Charlize Theron likes the darkness. It calls to her. It’s a place where she’s come to feel comfortable over the years, thanks to her ferocious, starkly nuanced performances as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster (for which Theron won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2004), Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: FuryRoad, the wicked queen Ravenna in Snow White & the Huntsman, and the icily lethal MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton in Atomic Blonde. So if you’re surprised to learn that she’s playing the romantic lead in the latest Seth Rogen rom-com, Long Shot, you’re not alone. “I never thought I would be in a rom-com,” says Theron, laughing. “I don’t think I would know how to do justice to a straightforward rom-com.”
We’re at Milk Studios in Hollywood, where Theron, 43, has just finished her cover shoot for Marie Claire. Dressed in an aqua wool crew-neck sweater, long caramel-colored palazzo pants, and shearling-lined Birkenstocks, she looks casual but also decidedly regal, with her sable hair cropped in a pageboy and green eyes sizzling in the afternoon light. Theron was a serious ballet dancer in her teens, and you can see it in her straight-backed posture, with her shoulders thrust back and chin held high. She’s reserved at first but grows increasingly warm as our conversation progresses. You get the sense that Theron would be a great person to be friends with—and a terrible person to cross.
Charlize Theron is one of the world’s most recognised actresses. She is known for being a strong, confident woman. An actress, businesswoman, philanthropist and mum, her life is far from quiet. A strong-minded woman, Theron left her home country of South Africa at the age of 19 to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles. With a one-way plane ticket bought for her by her mother, Theron had no idea what to expect. After several months of auditions she managed to secure a role in an upcoming movie as a supporting actress in “2 Days in the Valley”. Luckily for Theron the film was met with great reviews and she went on to secure larger roles with her success quickly growing.
To date, she has starred in dozens of Hollywood movies including “Monster”, for which she won an Academy Award in 2003, “Mighty Joe Young”, “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “Atomic Blonde” and most recently, the 2017 film “Tully”. As well as being an internationally recognised actress, Theron has her own production company which has created many films including: “The Burning Plain”and “Dark Places”, which she also starred in.
Theron is a single mum to two young adopted children, August and Jackson. She is also an activist and a charity worker. The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project was created in 2007 in an effort to support young African youths in the fight against disease. Theron is now an ambassador for a number of charities, many of which are helping young women in her home continent of Africa. In 2007 she was named a UN Messenger of Peace and she has spoken openly of her passion for the subject of women’s rights and equality.
Charlize Theron has never been interested in playing the ingenue. In 2003, during the height of the rom-com, Theron took on Monster’s hooker–turned–serial killer, Aileen Wuornos, a role for which she gained 30 pounds and ultimately won an Academy Award. That same year, the film’s debut director, Patty Jenkins, told ELLE about Theron, “I might not be as experienced as some other great director, but I do know badass girls. I know who’s strong.” (Fittingly, Jenkins went on to direct 2017’s Wonder Woman, the highest-grossing live-action film from a female director.)
Fifteen years ago, Theron founded Denver and Delilah Productions (named for the 43-year-old actress’s dogs), in part to champion messy, complicated women, like Atomic Blonde’s ruthless, violent Lorraine Broughton and Tully’s Marlo, the profoundly tired postpartum mother of three. Now Theron slips into the heels of Megyn Kelly in a forthcoming biopic of the former Fox News host. Even when she isn’t in the starring role, Theron’s delivering important narratives to the screen—she coproduced this month’s A Private War, based on the true story of war correspondent Marie Colvin, played by Rosamund Pike—as well as advocating for equal representation behind the scenes. “You cannot tell the universal, diverse stories of this earth that we live on without women and their participation,” she says. “You just can’t do it—it’s impossible.”