Interview with Charlize Theron

Inspiring Women

Charlize Theron’s Scary Start


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.

Charlize Theron’s Scary Start“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.'”

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 a job to the big screen in 1997 with her breakthrough role in MGM’s 2 Days in the Valley. From there she burst onto the screen with roles in Trial and Error and shortly thereafter she worked with Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino in Devil’s Advocate.

“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.”

Her outstanding acting ability soon became apparent to all the right people in Hollywood, including Tom Hanks, who cast her in That Thing You Do. 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.”

Charlize showed the world that she is not only a beautiful face, by playing Aileen Wournos in Monster back in 2003, which earned her an Oscar for Best Actress. After winning the Oscar, she returned to South Africa to celebrate with former South African President Nelson Mandela, and burst into happy tears at his kind words about her contributions to the country. Not surprisingly, she says: “Now I don’t want anything to change in my life. It’s all so good, I just want more…” she says. “No–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.


  1. Andrea Mitchell

    Loved her acting in MadMax! 🙂

  2. Kaitlyn Barrett

    She’s almost a flawless human being. <3

  3. 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
    Much Love Animal Rescue
    National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
    Onyx and Breezy Foundation
    Population Services International
    Project Angel Food
    Red Cross
    Stand Up To Cancer
    Whatever It Takes

  4. 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.

  5. Emma Blackwood

    She was my idol back in teenage years. 🙂

  6. 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!?!

  7. 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?

  8. 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

  9. Diana Hewitt

    She was spectacularly beautiful in Devil’s Advocate! 🙂

  10. Lynn Hayes

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

  11. 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.”

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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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