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Charlize Theron talks about herself: her career, her daughters and the role of women

This interview with Charlize Theron is published in issue 39 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until 26 September 2023

This interview with Charlize Theron was conducted last June, a few weeks before the actors’ strike called by the SAG-Aftra union began. It’s a yesepochal move, which is calling the whole of Hollywood into question, from the highest systems to the apparently most frivolous aspects. The promotion of films also involves red carpets and all those moments that enhance the image of actors and actresses. Can cinema exist, can television exist without that human capital, without their bodies and their personalities? Obviously the answer is no, at least until they are replaced, who knows, by the digital creatures of artificial intelligence.

However, it is difficult to recreate it Charlize Theron, the most irregular of divas, always surprising in his life and career choices. Now, just turned 48, she is one of the few stars who are part of what remains of the Olympus of cinema. She became famous in the era before the Internet and social media, she made what in talent shows is called “path”, a room all to herself, as Virginia Woolf would say.

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In 2004 he won an Oscar for Monster, a film she produced herself, where she played the frightening serial killer Aileen Wuornos. She got fat, ugly, bad, she also demonstrated to the most foolish people that she could do anything. Above all, she didn’t waste time with niceties. She played dramatic roles, which opened the door to female stories that were not at all comforting: the sleepless protagonist affected by postpartum depression by Tully, the miner molested in North Country (Oscar nomination) and the journalist who takes on Donald Trump head-on in Bombshell (another nomination). Not only. Over the years, she has become a central presence in many action movies, those films with a high concentration of car races and loud explosions that would seem exclusive to an all-male imagination. From Mad Max: Fury Road to some episodes of the motoring saga Fast & Furiousfrom Old Guard (whose sequel is about to be released) to the supreme kingdom of testosterone, the Marvel universe (Doctor Strange), Charlize is a powerhouse. Everything that feminism hopes for, more or less, she has achieved.

Having survived a traumatic family event (an alcoholic and violent father who her mother killed in self-defense), she also survived the risk of being boxed into a “Stereotypical Barbie” package.

She is not only considered for her beauty, but her beauty has allowed her to be the international face of Dior perfumes for almost twenty years. She had partners but never married. She has adopted and is raising, as a single, two girls: Jackson, ten, and August, seven. She manages her career with an attitude that few men or women have. There are countless stories about how she intervened several times to save “difficult” films. Behind the scenes, they say she’s tough, some use less kind terms. I wouldn’t make it a question of vocabulary. However you define her, Charlize is a powerhouse.

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Almost twenty years have passed since his Oscar for Monster. What importance did that film have for you?
«That film was a great gift from director Patty Jenkins. She was the one who gave me an opportunity that changed my life. I didn’t really realize it at the time. Now that I understand the value of that gift, it makes me think about how many good actresses and how many good actors have not had the same luck as me. The world is full of talented and hard-working people but if someone doesn’t come along who believes in you and challenges you, like Patty did, you won’t get to where I got to.”

It’s not just luck, though. She was also far-sighted. He produced Monster, is the first title signed by his production company, Denver & Delilah Productions. By the way, where does the name come from?
«They are the names of the two dogs I had in my early days in Los Angeles, two fundamental figures in my life. Before I settled here, when I was a model and trying to be an actress, my whole life fit in a suitcase. No roots. No home. Many nights on the sofas of friends and girlfriends. Then, one day, instinctively, I decided to get a dog, Denver. An impulse gesture, when I didn’t even know if I had a future. But, someone, somewhere in the universe, always knows more than us, right?”.

I think I have to agree with her.
«Almost at the same time as Denver I also took Delilah. I set up a house for them. They, two almost cocker mongrels, were the first representation of the longevity of my career and my life in this city.”

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You have also been working as a testimonial for Dior for almost twenty years. What trip was it?
«If you had asked me twenty years ago what consequences that proposal would have had, I would never have imagined such a duration. Already being called to represent a brand like this seemed incredible to me. There have always been different campaigns, within a very coherent evolution of the maison’s image. I have learned to love Dior because it continually renews itself and knows how to look with foresight at the world of women and their needs. Furthermore, in recent years I have worn Dior almost exclusively on red carpets, there is a relationship of mutual loyalty that makes me very proud.”

As a producer, how do you see the situation in your industry today, where it seems that theatrical cinema is fighting a sort of final battle against streaming platforms?
«When the world changes, certain technological steps are beyond our control. When the sound came on, it seemed out of this world. The idea of ​​actors suddenly speaking in a film was unheard of, in a literal sense. I have read many books on how that revolution of a hundred years ago was an earthquake on the habits of the public and on the making of films, even on a creative level. Today we take sound for granted: there are even two Oscar categories that reward it. For me, we need to look at new things thinking about how to make them functional. Does streaming change the way we consume films? There is no going back, just as there is no going back to silent cinema. But I think the theaters will remain. It’s up to artists, actors, screenwriters and directors to understand how their works will live in these two spaces. Artists must be given the opportunity to choose which are the most appropriate areas to convey their films.”

What role do or can women have in this phase?
«In recent years, the topic of female empowerment has become central, while women of my generation have been kept on the margins. We were asked to be secondary, to stay one step behind. We were silent for a long time, even in the face of enormous problems. What inspires me today and makes me very happy is seeing how young actresses are already of a different kind. They are changing not only cinema, but the entire world. They are a generation that will be able to afford to take up spaces that are unthinkable for us. I think of the girls I’ve worked with recently, like Chloë Grace Moretz or KiKi Layne. Of course, there is still a long way to go.”

What specifically are you referring to?
«A little of everything. From wages to being listened to. If you think that the women directors nominated for Oscars so far are not even two percent, you understand that we are still far behind.”

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How did your choice to star in many action films come about?
«I have always chosen in harmony with my creative soul which is very smart and quite noisy. She doesn’t settle, I can’t calm her down, she’s always hungry for challenges. Every film must teach me something, make me understand where I can go. Those action movies are complex and are great opportunities to get involved. Not everyone has them.”

How much do you have to fight to get to the top?
«At almost 50 years old, I can say it: you never stop fighting, in work and in life. There is no moment when you can be sure that everything will go smoothly and that your dreams will come true by magic. The problem is that there are so many women who struggle desperately and the opportunities still don’t come. Because for us they are always too few. I founded a production company for this too: to open the door to a young generation that needs to emerge, with the right projects. I look for material that others don’t want to bring to the screen, original and surprising material. I don’t make a difference between a denunciation film like Bombshell or an action movie. The important thing is that they are good stories.”

But have you never thought about directing?
«Of course I thought about it. But now is not the time. I am a single mother, my daughters are still young. Without a partner who shares the family commitment with me I can’t direct a film: too much time away from home and too much time away from home. When the girls are older and go to study in another city or live away from home, I will think about it.”

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Photo: Josh Olins
Make-up: Dior Beauty using Dior Forever Skin Glow 2N, Rouge Blush 100 Nude Look, Diorshow 5 Couleurs 649 Nude Dress, Diorshow Iconic Overcurl 090 Black, Diorshow Brow Styler 03 Brown and Rouge Dior 100 Nude Look Mat

All photos are Courtesy Parfums Christian Dior, Dior Dresses

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Source: Vanity Fair

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