Charlize Theron talks about herself: career, daughters and the role of a woman

This interview with Charlize Theron appears in Vanity Fair issue 39, on newsstands until September 26, 2023.

The interview with Charlize Theron was conducted last June, a few weeks before the start of the actors’ strike called by the SAG-Aftra union. It’s truean epoch-making step that casts doubt on all of Hollywood, from the highest systems to the seemingly most frivolous aspects. Film promotion also involves red carpets and all those moments that enhance the image of actors and actresses. Can cinema exist, can television exist without this human capital, without their bodies and their personalities? Obviously, the answer is no, at least until they are replaced by, who knows, digital creatures of artificial intelligence.

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However, it is difficult to recreate it Charlize Theron, the most unusual of divas, always surprising in his life and career choices. Now, having just turned 48, he is one of the few stars who are part of what remains of the Olympus of cinema. Becoming famous in a pre-Internet and pre-social media age, she blazed what Virginia Woolf would call a “path” to the talent show, a room all to herself.

In 2004 he received an Oscar for Monster, a film she produced herself, in which she played the terrifying serial killer Aileen Wuornos. Fat, ugly, hostile, she demonstrated to even the most phlegmatic people that she could do anything. First of all, he didn’t waste time being cute. She played dramatic roles that opened the door to women’s stories that were anything but comforting.: sleepless main character suffering from postpartum depression Tully, miner pestered Nordic country (Oscar nomination) and the journalist who challenges Donald Trump head-on bomb (another nomination). Not only. Over the years, she has become a central figure in many action films, films with a high concentration of car racing and loud explosions that might seem exclusive to male characters. From Mad Max: Fury Road to some episodes of the car saga Fast and furiousfrom Old Guard (the sequel of which is about to be released) into the highest kingdom of testosterone, the Marvel universe (Doctor Strange), Charlize is power. She has more or less achieved everything that feminism hopes for.

Having survived a traumatic family event (an alcoholic and abusive father whom her mother killed in self-defense), she also survived the risk of being packaged as a “stereotypical Barbie.”

She is not only appreciated for her beauty, but her beauty has allowed her to be the international face of Dior perfume for almost twenty years. She had partners but was never married. He adopted and is raising two single girls: ten-year-old Jackson and seven-year-old Augusta. He manages his career with an approach that few men or women have. There are countless stories of her intervening several times to save difficult films. Behind the scenes they say she is tough, some use less kind language. I wouldn’t make it a question of vocabulary. However you define her, Charlize is a strong personality.

Almost twenty years have passed since his Oscar for Monster. What significance did this film have for you?
“This film was a great gift from director Patty Jenkins. She was the one who gave me the opportunity that changed my life. I didn’t realize it at the time. Now that I understand the value of this gift, it makes me wonder how many good actresses and how many good actors have not been as lucky as I have been. The world is full of talented and hardworking people, but unless you have someone who believes in you and challenges you like Patty did, you won’t get as far as I have.”

However, this is not just luck. She was also a visionary. He produced Monster, is the first title signed by his production company Denver & Delilah Productions. By the way, where does this name come from?
“These are the names of two dogs I had in my early days in Los Angeles, two fundamental figures in my life. Before I moved here, when I was a model and trying to become an actress, my whole life fit in a suitcase. No roots. Not at home. Many nights on friends’ and girlfriends’ sofas. Then one day, on instinct, I decided to get a dog named Denver. An impulsive 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’ll have to agree with her.
“Almost at the same time as Denver, I took Delilah. I built a house for them. They, two almost mongrel cockers, were the first personification of the longevity of my career and my life in this city.”

You have also been a Dior spokesperson for almost twenty years. What kind of trip was it?
“If you had asked me twenty years ago what the consequences of this proposal would have been, I would never have thought of such a duration. It seemed incredible to me that I had already been invited to represent such a brand. There have always been different campaigns as part of a very consistent evolution of the house’s image. I have learned to love Dior because it is constantly innovating and has a forward-looking view of the world of women and their needs. Moreover, in recent years I have worn Dior almost exclusively on the red carpet, and we have developed a relationship of mutual devotion that I am very proud of.”

How do you, as a producer, see the situation in your industry today, when theatrical cinema seems to be fighting a kind of final battle against streaming platforms?
“As the world changes, some technological steps are beyond our control. When the sound appeared, it seemed unreal. The idea of ​​actors suddenly speaking in a film was literally unheard of. I’ve read a lot of books about how the revolution that happened a hundred years ago shook up public habits and filmmaking, even on a creative level. Today we take sound for granted: it even earns two Oscar nominations. In my opinion, we need to look at new things and think about how to make them functional. Is streaming changing the way we watch movies? There is no turning back, just as there is no turning back to silent films. But I think that theaters will remain. Artists, actors, screenwriters and directors will have to figure out how their works will live in these two spaces. Artists should be given the opportunity to choose which areas are most suitable for conveying their films.”

What role do or can women play at this stage?
“In recent years, the theme of women’s empowerment has become central, while women of my generation have remained on the margins. We were asked to be secondary, to stay one step behind. We remained silent for a long time, even in the face of enormous problems. What inspires me today and makes me very happy is that young actresses are already completely different. They change not only cinema, but the whole world. This is a generation that will be able to afford to take places unimaginable to us. I think about girls I’ve worked with recently, like Chloë Grace Moretz or KiKi Layne. Of course, there is still a long way to go.”

What exactly do you mean?
“A bit of everything. From salary to being listened to. If you think there aren’t even two percent of Oscar-nominated female directors yet, you know we’re still way behind.”

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 calm down, I can’t calm her down, she always craves challenges. Every film should teach me something, make me understand where I can go. These action movies are challenging and provide a great opportunity to get involved. Not everyone has them.”

How long will you have to fight to get to the top?
“At almost 50 years old, I can say one thing: you never stop fighting, both in work and in life. There is no moment when you can be sure that everything will go smoothly and your dreams will magically come true. The problem is that so many women are struggling desperately and opportunities are still not opening up. Because there are always too few of them for us. That’s what I started the production company for, too: to open the door to the younger generation that is about to emerge with the right projects. I look for material that others don’t want to see on screen, original and surprising material. I don’t make a difference between an exposé film like bomb or an action movie. The important thing is that these are good stories.”

But have you ever thought about directing?
“Of course I thought about it. But now is not the time. I am a single mother, my daughters are still small. Without a partner who shares family responsibilities with me, I can’t make a film: too much time away from home and too much time away from home. When the girls grow up and go to study in another city or live away from home, I will think about it.”

Photo: Josh Olins
Makeup: 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 courtesy of Parfums Christian Dior, Dior dresses.

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