Charlize Theron’s icy, awful characters shroud a softer, sadder personal life
- Last Updated: 12:00 AM, May 28, 2012
- Posted: 8:47 PM, May 26, 2012
"I’m a bitch — Picasso had his blue period, and this is my Bitchy Period,” Charlize Theron recently quipped to a crowd at the WonderCon convention in Anaheim, Calif., when asked about her talent for playing not-so-nice gals.
Last December, she garnered critical raves and a Golden Globe nod for her work in “Young Adult,” playing a depressed, drunken, deluded beauty who returns to her hometown hellbent on winning back her high school flame, despite the fact that he’s got a new baby, a loving wife and little interest in her. It was hailed as her best performance since 2003’s “Monster,” for which she won an Oscar playing prostitute-turned-serial-killer Aileen Wuornos.
“I just provided the blueprint for that woman, and Charlize made her real and memorable,” says “Young Adult” screenwriter Diablo Cody, an Oscar winner herself. This summer, Theron’s “b” period continues. She plays the evil queen in Friday’s “Snow White and the Huntsman,” an action-packed take on the classic fairy tale that finds her coolly dispatching a henchman to kill Kristen Stewart’s Snow White.
“It looks like Charlize goes balls-out in this one,” says Cody. “She does nuanced villainy so well.”
A week later, Theron again hits the multiplex, playing Meredith Vickers in Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus,” the famed director’s return to the sci-fi world of “Alien.” The film’s plot has been a closely guarded secret, but it involves a fight to the save the future of humankind, and a Fox rep says Theron’s character, a corporate type aboard the Prometheus ship, is “definitely a strong woman.” Given that “Alien” featured a fierce, game-changing female heroine in Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley, we’d expect no less.
Still, for all her tough physicality and cruel beauty onscreen, Theron is increasingly baring her sensitive side offscreen. In December, she opened up to Vogue about her 2010 split from Irish actor Stuart Townsend after nearly a decade together, telling of how she put her career on the back burner to try and save the relationship.
“It was sinking, and I had to give it a fight,” she said. “I really wanted to try and make it work.”
Then, in March, she giddily announced that she’d adopted a baby boy named Jackson. “It’s strangely everything that you’ve hoped for, and it feels so right,” she’s said of being a new mom. “It’s an overwhelming sensation of love.”
Motherhood certainly seems to suit the former teen model and ballerina, who has said that she’s wanted to adopt a child since she was a young girl. A crew member on “Young Adult” recalls the actress happily interacting with director Jason Reitman’s young daughter on set— “she was just great with everybody” — and says it wasn’t surprising to hear she’d become a mother.
Earlier this month, pictures surfaced of the new mom, perfectly coiffed and well-shod in high-heel black boots, balancing her tot on a leather-pants-clad hip with graceful ease as the pair boarded a private jet. “She looks content,” says a marketing exec at a major studio. “Clearly, she’s going to be a hands-on mother, and won’t be letting an entourage of handlers raise her baby.”
Growing up in South Africa, Theron’s own childhood was far from idyllic. Her mother shot and killed her father in self-defense when she was just 15, something Theron doesn’t hide, but doesn’t seem to dwell on, either. Her mother, Gerda, lives near her in Los Angeles, and the two are close. They hike together several times a week, and the new grandma is said to be helping out a lot with Jackson.
A man Theron calls her “prince charming” is also assisting with bringing up baby. No, not a new beau, but Theron’s pit bull, Blue. She recently told Ellen DeGeneres how great Blue and her other dog, Berkeley, a border terrier mix, are with Jackson, talking about how Blue gets up with her in the night and cries when the baby cries. “From the moment this baby came into our home, those two dogs have never been more in love,” she said. “It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed.”
It’s not quite the conventional, fairytale ending you might expect for one of Hollywood’s most glamorous ladies.
“You know, I don’t think any mother aims to be a single mom,” Theron recently said. “I didn’t wish for that, but it happened.” Then again, she’s never been drawn to easy romances or happy endings onscreen. “She’s not the simple wife or love interest,” says “Monster” director Patty Jenkins. “She’s an incredibly warm and wonderful person. but she’s so much more complex than the attractive female lead.”
Next up, Theron is slated to start shooting a longdelayed “Road Warrior” installment, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and she has a host of intriguing, offbeat projects in development at her own production outfit, Denver and Delilah Films. Among them are “Florence of Arabia,” a comedy about a State Department employee and women’s rights in the Middle East, and “Agent 13,” a sci-fi comic adaptation to be helmed by “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” director Rupert Wyatt.
And, of course, there’s her new role as mother to Jackson.
“I’m thrilled for her,” says Cody. “I think it’s so perfect that she adopted a boy — I see her as an unfussy, cool ‘guys’ girl’ who could definitely hang with a son.”