Entertainment Weekly’s yearly celebration of the actresses in movies and television who kick the most ass changed things up a bit for Comic-Con 2017. This iteration, dubbed “Icon Edition,” focused on one ass-kicker in particular — someone who has quickly earned a spot in action movie hall of fame.
Charlize Theron took the stage in Hall H at Comic-Con for an in-depth, one-on-one conversation with Entertainment Weekly senior writer Sara Vilkomerson ahead of her new film Atomic Blonde (out July 28). Theron told Vilkomerson that Atomic Blonde came out of looking for something specific, wanting to play an unrepentant woman who plays by the rules men get to play by.
“Women in film typically need a reason to become warriors — losing a child or husband. They can just be warriors,” she said. “That’s what Atomic Blonde is supposed to portray. Lorraine is simply herself. There’s no explanation for why the way she is the way she is.”
The fans in Hall H were also treated to an extended look at the ’80s-set spy thriller. In a long-take fight between Theron’s Lorraine Broughton and a group of thugs in an East Berlin stairwell, Lorraine takes plenty of hits but is absolutely merciless — and the audience in Hall H responded with huge applause. (“Thanks, guys. Can I bring you everywhere I go?” Theron joked.)
The epic sequence was shot over three-and-a-half days. “We really didn’t think we would be able to pull it off,” Theron said.
With Atomic Blonde (in theaters July 28), Charlize Theron produces and stars as undercover MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton, an ass kicker of epic proportions sent to 1980s Berlin to recover essential information after another agent’s murder. Costarring James McAvoy and John Goodman, and directed by John Wick’s David Leitch, Atomic Blonde — which is screening for SDCC badge holders (21 and older) on July 22 at 8 p.m. at Horton Plaza Park — is just the latest in a long line of titles to cast Theron in a ferocious role. Think Cipher in The Fate of the Furious, Ravenna in The Huntsman: Winter’s War, and Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road. The Oscar winner, who appears on the cover of Entertainment Weekly‘s Comic-Con Special Issue (not to be confused with EW’s Comic-Con double issue, which is on stands now), chatted about love scenes, playing by the rules, and evolving into Hollywood’s fiercest female.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it about Lorraine and Atomic Blonde that appealed to you?
CHARLIZE THERON: I was looking for something that had a female protagonist that was unapologetic and could play by the same rules as men. I think what happens a lot with women [characters] in film is that we go to these easy, sometimes manipulative places of throwing children or a dead husband into their history. The truth of Lorraine’s world is that when you see her body beaten, you see the consequences of the world she’s living in. That’s where you get the empathy. To me, it felt more authentic than going to this place where we are oversaturated with explanation. Like, “Hey, this is a woman! So let’s remind you that they are mothers and nurturers.” We’re so much more than that. Lorraine just is, and I love that about her.