Raised on a farm in South Africa with an abusive alcoholic father, Charlize Theron has become a fearless defender of human rights and feminism. Here, we share a preview of her exclusive cover story.
Outspoken and fearless. Those are the principal character traits that define Charlize Theron, the statuesque South African actress whose brazen attitude towards life is every bit a match for her striking beauty. She’s one of those frighteningly independent women who behaves as if she could take on any man and tends to swear like one, too. Raised by a strong-willed Dutch-German mother, Charlize learned how to stand up for herself and carve out her own destiny.
Those qualities are taken to the extreme in her latest film, Atomic Blonde, which could well establish her as the next big female action hero. Theron, 41, spent five years developing and producing the movie which she intended to be a vehicle allowing her to play a weaponised extension of her own rather formidable persona.
“People are always perplexed when I say that I enjoy all genres, including action movies,” Theron says. “I was a ballerina for 12 years, so maybe that’s why I’m very attracted to physical roles. I enjoy telling a story with my body and not just verbally.”
“I wanted to take the concept of the spy thriller and turn it on its head. I liked the physicality of the story and I’ve always enjoyed telling stories that way even though I haven’t done that many action films I really wanted to get into that for this film. I’ve been doing this over 20 years and this has been a special experience for me.”
Theron plays British MI6 agent Lorraine Brighton who is sent on assignment in Berlin just prior to the building of the Berlin Wall. In the course of her covert mission, her character explodes off the screen, capable of spiking a man in the neck with her heel or seducing a female French spy.
A high-octane mixture of martial arts and espionage, Atomic Blonde is visceral proof that Theron can kick, punch and otherwise inflict grievous bodily harm just as convincingly as Keanu Reeves, Jason Statham, Daniel Craig or any other male action star.
In one terrifying, mesmerising five-minute, single-take sequence, Theron dispatches two attackers during the course of a battle royal that will be one of the most talked-about moments in film this year.
The scene has already led to calls – by Chris Hemsworth, among others – for her to be named the next James Bond. Theron not only wanted a chance to create a defining role model for women in general – Gal Gadot has already set things in motion in this year’s Wonder Woman – but also show how a female presence can reframe the concept of the action genre itself.
Words: Jan Janssen / Viva press
Grab the Creative Issue of muse magazine for the full cover story.