Interview with Charlize Theron

Inspiring Women

Charlize Theron’s Scary Start

Charlize tells us about her shockingly awful start, both in life and in Hollywood, and how she overcame it.

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Charlize Theron’s warm and accepting personality shines through when you talk to her, and you feel instantly comfortable. She’s come a long way from the farm in the town of Benoni in South Africa, where she grew up, to where she is now.

Charlize Theron’s Scary Start

The first thing I noticed while spending four days on Necker Island with her is that when Charlize Theron walks into a room, people notice. At 5’10”, stunningly gorgeous, blonde and elegant, she doesn’t exactly blend in. But it’s not only her beauty that has gotten her attention. It’s her choice of unique roles and her Oscar-winning acting ability.

It wasn’t an easy journey for Charlize, who struggled to be taken seriously. Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles, the then dewy 18-year-old Charlize was approached by an experienced Hollywood director who asked her to read for a role in his latest film.

“It was a little odd that the audition was on a Saturday night, at his house in Los Angeles, but I didn’t know anything about the business, so I thought maybe that was the normal thing,” Charlize recalls, sipping on a water. “When I arrived, he was in his Hugh Hefner pajamas. I thought, Maybe this is how he works. I go inside, and he’s offering me a drink, and I’m thinking, My God, this acting stuff’s very relaxed! When do we actually start working? It pretty soon became very clear to me what the situation was.” With all the conviction of the strong, independent woman she has become, she says, with an intense look in her eyes: “I knew how to deal with it: ‘Not going to happen. Wrong girl, buddy.'”

Charlize Theron’s Scary Start

It’s this professionalism and conviction of values that Charlize is now known for in Hollywood circles. Perhaps some of her conviction comes from her strict and often harsh upbringing. She is unafraid to tell us that her mother, who she is very close to, disciplined her harshly by hitting her with “whatever was around: a hairbrush, a shoe–the shoe was a big one”, when she stepped out of line.

“My mother disciplined me,” she says. “It couldn’t happen in America today, because she’d be put in jail, and to me that’s a very sad thing, because I always deserved it. Never once did I go, ‘God, this is so unfair.’ Afterward, I would go up to her and apologize, because I knew that I had been wrong.”

Charlize’s life got more difficult when she witnessed her mother shoot and kill her drunk and abusive father in self-defense, when she was just 15-years-old. Perhaps it is because of the trials she has had to endure from an early age, that she is able to convey such seemingly authentic sadness and desperation in her work. “I guess if I didn’t have this job, I’d have to go to therapy. But I don’t go to therapy–so I need this job! I don’t really want to pay someone to tell them my problems. I would rather be paid to tell my problems!” she quips.

Charlize Theron’s Scary Start

Charlize’s career in the performance industry started off as a professionally trained ballet dancer, but stopped because of a knee injury. At the time she viewed her injury as devastating, but she now sees it for what it was: one of the many twists of fate that brought her to where she is today. Another such twist was a national modeling competition, which she won. Upon hearing the news, at the ripe age of 16, Charlize immediately quit high school and began traveling. Charlize walked the catwalks of Milan and Paris before taking her first acting gig in 1997.

“During my 20s at auditions, I felt I had to prove that I wasn’t just pretty, that I had acting chops. Now I don’t do that anymore. I know who I am.”

Charlize Theron’s Scary Start

About the Hollywood machine, Charlize seems sanguine, “When all (the Hollywood hype) falls away, what is left? The work, living and breathing a character. When you find that core, nothing else matters.”

Her best advice for Urbanette readers is simple: “Enjoy the moment you’re actually living in. And don’t worry about what you’re going to look like when you’re 60!” When asked if she’s following her own advice, she adds: “Now I don’t want anything to change in my life. It’s all so good, I just want more…” she says, “actually–I’m ready for the next chapter, ready for right now, ready for tonight!”

A writer, artist and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary spends most of her time in France, but still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC and has traveled extensively around the world, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

85 Comments

  1. Ani Hoker

    She was my teenage crush, and I remember my ex-girlfriend being jealous of her because I have this huge crush on her.

    • Carol Joyner

      Haha! Everyone was jealous of her because of look at her, she’s an amazing person.

  2. Selli Coaze

    It’s okay to enjoy what you have right now, but you should have goals in life. If you want to become successful, you should be game on everything.

  3. Maria Bruce

    I almost made my mom to jail because she hit me when I was a child. Haha! I was a jerk that time, and now I know the reason behind those whip on my ass. She just wants me to be a better person when I grow up, and I became one.

  4. Michelle Lee

    I think of the same too. I don’t care about how I look on my 60’s, those cosmetic procedures that will make me beautiful, and young is not my thing.

  5. Cries Moris

    My girlfriend admires her a lot, and she’s the one who told me the story about Charlize’s life before she entered Hollywood.

  6. Maria

    I love her fighting spirit. That director messed with the wrong girl. Lol

  7. Olive Williams

    She almost got raped by a Hollywood director. If she was just a woman who is desperate to get a job, I bet she will take the job in exchange for sex.

  8. Eloisa Clay

    She’s known for being a good artist. I’ve watched her movies, and she’s good, you can’t deny it because she won a lot of awards like the best actress in 2015 for her movie Mad Max.

  9. Kseniya Tomlin

    She’s a tough girl. Imagine, she saw her father died in front of her knowing that the killer was her mother? How can she take that incident? I must be crazy right now if that would happen to me.

  10. Juli Woods

    I don’t want my child to experience what she experienced. As much as possible, if we have arguments we will settle this with talking, and no hitting.

  11. Henriett Bond

    My wife is an Asian and I don’t like how her mother raised her by beating her up until she passed out. Then she made me understand the situation, and hitting the child could not be so bad as long as you control yourself. My wife is a smart, and disciplined woman, and I want my child to be like her. She knows how to discipline our child, and I trust her on that.

    • Quin Meri

      This way of discipline is most likely on Asian culture.

  12. Mildred Davis

    The director was a creep. Seriously? Anyways, that’s the easy way to be successful in the business. On the other side, Charlize chose the other path which is difficult, and clean.

  13. Artur Piterson

    Sorry but she’s hot, and I can’t blame the director for doing that. As a man, I am attracted to him, and the director has the chance to do something to her, he just tries his luck. Of course, that’s just not right.

  14. Carrie Bleau

    What a shame on that Hollywood director. Ha! He thought he can fool the Charlize Theron, but sorry for him because he can’t!

  15. Katherine Donnelly

    She’s known for being a good actress, and she won a lot of awards! I don’t like her, but after reading this article, I LOVE HER!

  16. Hena Taylor

    Did YOU spend 4 DAYS WITH HER? WHAT A LUCKY WOMAN!!!!! DAMN!! I SO LIKE HER!!!!

    • Jesse Wyss

      I know! Hilary is very lucky!!

  17. Ana Brose

    I think the same way. I don’t care what my life would be when I’m 60, as long as I’m happy with my 20’s. People always think about what will happen to them in the future, but I always look at my present because this is where I should focus because it can be my future too.

  18. Kathryn Gibson

    That’s the spirit, girl! In this world, being beautiful is what they thought is important, but in reality, you can’t survive with just being beautiful, you have to be talented as well.

  19. Isabela Quagliato

    Hell yeah. I remember my mom hitting me with her belt, and all I did was to run as fast as I could. I also tried locking myself at the cabinet when she got mad at me because I skipped class. I can’t blame my mom for doing it because I was a badass before, and I thank her for doing that.

  20. George Sumanta

    Why would you go to his place at the first place? Don’t you have any idea how the auditions happen? Cmon, no one would have the audition at their place, and everyone knows that.

    • Sherry Manust

      She doesn’t know anything about the industry, have you read it? She mentioned it in the interview.

  21. Robert Patel

    I have a crush on her, and my wife gets jealous about it. Who wouldn’t have any crush on her, right? Look at what the director did to her, you can’t blame him because she’s very attractive, but it’s very wrong to take advantage of a girl.

  22. Jessie Fernande

    OMG. Did she still do the role? WTH!! Thank God she knew it that it’s not just a simple audition!!! Bad director. Shame on you.

  23. Lusi Martin

    I saw her in some movies, but I didn’t know her name. She’s a great actress! You can’t see in her face that she has been through tough things because all you can see in her is positivity. This type of woman is the perfect model for us, despite bad experience in her life, she managed to stand up, and prove to everyone that she’s not just beautiful.

  24. Monique Malick

    Who’s that director? Maybe he just wanted to sleep with you! That’s showbiz, you have to give them something to make you a big star.

    • Jenifer Jeni

      The question is, Is he still alive? Charlize id 41, and she was 18 that time.

  25. Wilma Moore

    Luck you, Hilary! I’m a fan of her!! Thanks for this article, much appreciated!

  26. Richard Armendariz

    I’m a dad, and as long as I can manage my temper, I won’t hit my children. We can discipline them in a different way without hurting them physically because it can be a cause of their hatred to you.

  27. I’m an Asian, and in Asia, hitting is a part of a disciplinary action of the parents. They believe that if you hit your children, they will never forget it, and they will never repeat their mistakes again.

    • You got it! Haha! My mom used to hit me with her slippers when I was a child, that was intense!

  28. Sharon

    Gosh, for real? I can’t believe that this happened to her. I like how she acts in her movies, specifically at Hancock, but I didn’t know that behind her toughness, and beauty, there is a story like this. She’s an everyone, especially to the teenagers who suffer in family problems, she can be a big help to them.

  29. Jessi Agusta

    Oh? seriously? I can’t believe she has been through this in her teenage life. It’s very difficult to overcome happenings like these, and she’s that strong to conquer it without the help of a doctor.

  30. Jeni Morgan

    Clever move! My mom also hits me when I was a child, that’s their way disciplinary.

  31. Carmen Griffin

    Ohh! She was inspired to do modeling! Still she’s a great actress.

  32. Della Martin

    I love how good of a daughter you are to your parents! How you said sorry after doing wrong and they’ve discipline you.

  33. Elizabeth Gonzalez

    I think I’m scared of your Mom. She’s scary when she’s mad!

  34. Paul Daiz

    I’m gonna protect my family so that none of this things could happen to her.

  35. Connie Schmidt

    At least even that she’s young, she was able to handle herself and be brave with all that is in front of her.

  36. At such a young age, she was strong to face those struggles in her life!

  37. Esther Devine

    She wouldn’t be who she is right now if those tragic things didn’t happen to her. Those things shaped her from who she had become.

  38. Brittany West

    A lot of things had happened to her from when she was a child. But look at her now! She’s successful.

  39. Brett Lee

    With her inspiring story, she really will be a head turner even more! She strong and independent.

  40. Deanna Woods

    An actress with that kind of an inspirational story of how strong she is should be the one admired by many people.

  41. Joss Butler

    How your Mom disciplined you, could be traumatizing and heartbreaking. She’s lucky to have you since you didn’t keep anger in yourself to her.

  42. Genie Mackenzie

    I love her role from the F8! She’s really an effective actress. Thumbs up!

    • steev smith

      Me too! My wife also loves her.

  43. She’s a gorgeous woman with an inspiring story! She didn’t let her past hinder her from becoming what she has become now.😍

  44. Ann Amos

    This is why we shouldn’t worry about our past. We should work on our present to have a better future!

  45. Donna Mack

    “I felt I had to prove that I wasn’t just pretty, that I had acting chops. Now I don’t do that anymore. I know who I am.” I love what she said here. We really need to push ourselves to our limits to show what we can really do.

  46. Rebecca Bogert

    What a strong girl at her age! Girls nowadays that could have experienced those would go rebelling to their parents. They would even do drugs and stuff. But she made her life better and used it as a motivation.👌

  47. Barbara Burchfield

    She’s so brave to share her past experience. She’s is really a strong woman.

  48. Kelly Milone

    This kind of inspiring stories is what these younger generations should’ve been reading rather than getting themselves into fights, drugs, and other vices.

  49. Hilda Johnson

    I’m right! She’s the girl at the Snow White and the Huntsman!!

  50. Andrea Jones

    Knowing her as a great actress, but her background is unbelievable. She’s a strong woman!

  51. Zoraida Martin

    OMG! Good thing she was able to handle it all by herself, and she didn’t go rogue from all that has happened.👍

  52. She was great from The Fate of the Furious! Not to mention how great of an actress she is.

  53. Rosalia Russell

    I love her role from Hancock! That’s why I think I find her familiar.

  54. Hannah Evans

    I’m a fan of her, and she’s a down to earth person. She deserves everything she has right now.

  55. Karen Abeyta

    Such a strong woman. She may be had a rough time while she was growing up, but she didn’t let it hinder her from achieving her goals and dreams!

  56. Maxine Ford

    It’s inspiring on strong she is with how young she was when those happened to her.

  57. Khimberly Gonzales

    That is quite a story! I can’t believe all those things that have happened to her at such a young age. All of those are pretty scary!

  58. Jurik

    Weren’t she traumatize when she saw how her Mom killed her Dad? That’s so heartbreaking.

  59. Joan Morales

    Good thing that she can handle herself even when she was young.

  60. Lisa Bryson

    Consider herself lucky since she didn’t go rebellious with what has happened to her. She was so young to experience those things!😊

  61. Lisa Baker

    Charlize is a great actress since I’ve seen most of her movies! She good with her roles.

  62. A lot of things that have happened to her at such a young age.

  63. April Henry

    Ohh! Was she only 5’10? I thought she might be taller. 😲

    • Eloise Ferris

      Yeah. I think she was taller!

  64. Andrea Mitchell

    Loved her acting in MadMax! 🙂

  65. Kaitlyn Barrett

    She’s almost a flawless human being. <3

  66. Anna KAPLAN

    To be honest, she’s not my cup of tea as an actress. But I respect her greatly because of all the charities and causes she supports.

    As a matter of fact, I’m listing below the causes she’s been a part of, for those who are interested;

    21st Century Leaders
    American Foundation for AIDS Research
    Artists for Peace and Justice
    Best Friends Animal Society
    Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project
    Clothes Off Our Back
    Community Inspiring Today’s Youth
    Dogs Deserve Better
    Entertainment Industry Foundation
    Food Bank For New York City
    Global Green
    Legacy of Hope Foundation
    Luke Neuhedel Foundation
    Madison Foundation
    Make It Right
    Mpilonhle
    Much Love Animal Rescue
    National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
    Onyx and Breezy Foundation
    PETA
    Population Services International
    Project Angel Food
    Red Cross
    Stand Up To Cancer
    Whatever It Takes
    YouthAIDS

  67. Monica CONOVER

    Uhmmm the other day I read an interview where she says Sean Penn is the love of her life, and he’s the hottest man she’s ever been with. I cannot even fathom the word hot and Sean Penn together. The only thing that is hot about him is his body temperature.

  68. Emma Blackwood

    She was my idol back in teenage years. 🙂

  69. Shannon Bradley

    Ok! She’s gorgeous, talented and intelligent, but I really don’t like her sense of fashion. She was captured wearing Birkenstocks… Come on, who does that!?!

  70. Danielle Wilson

    I heard she’s not going to be in the Mad Max sequel, do you know if that’s true or just a false rumour?

  71. Sabrina Grattidge

    I love her so much, but let’s be realistic, that gold dress she wore in Hong Kong a few weeks ago, is just ridic. LOL

  72. Diana Hewitt

    She was spectacularly beautiful in Devil’s Advocate! 🙂

  73. Lynn Hayes

    What I like the most about her is her confidence. So inspirational!

  74. Hannah Mayers

    I totally believe that professionalism put her where she is right now! As one had said, “They copied my product, they copied my strategies yet they failed miserably in the business, because they couldn’t copy my professionalism.”

  75. It's really inspiring to see how she pushed herself into the career she wanted without any external help, all while staying true to her personal values and morals. We hear a lot about people abandoning those to give their career a boost, so it's nice to hear she values professionalism and integrity!

  76. Courtney Watson

    As unfortunate as her past may be, I bet it has made her an exceptional actress. When you can actually retrieve dramatic emotions from memory, the acting becomes more real. In response to the comment below, I agree she was great in The Road.

  77. Francis Woods

    Charlize has been gone for a very long time. I think her comeback movie was Hancock, right? When I saw her there, I was like :O
    She looked so stunning!

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