Exclusive Interview: Candid Charlize Theron
There isn’t much that is off limits when chatting to Charlize Theron – the stunning Dior muse and former ballerina is happy to answer any questions on life and love.
Despite her love of high drama on screen, the 39-year old is full of humour, so it’s little wonder that she took a departure from her usual roles and has just starred in a spaghetti Western with funnyman Seth McFarlane who wrote, acted and produced the film – ‘A Million Ways To Die In the West.’ This is her first Western and she won rave reviews for her comedic timing. It seems there is not much the statuesque blonde can’t juggle.
Originally from South Africa, she took a leap of faith and followed her dreams – first studying ballet and then being discovered as a model. She readily admits her modelling days were not her favourite so instead turned to her love of acting and the rest is history thanks to her willingness to take a risk.
She not only take risks on the silver screen, but also in her personal life. After the end of her long-term relationship with Stuart Townsend, she bravely chose to become a single Mum and adopted a son named Jackson – the love of her life.
She admits the toddler was her priority for the first two years, but now it seems the actress has found love with Hollywood star Sean Penn and rumours are swirling that the two will walk down the aisle shortly.
Charlize chats to VIVA about her role as a mother and why her own mum is her best friend and still puts her in line…
You recently starred in A Million Ways to Die In the West, your first Western – do you like that genre?
I do. I have a soft spot for those old spaghetti Westerns for sure. When I’m travelling and I’m flipping through the channels and I find one of those, no matter where it is, I watch them. I kind of find myself just going into a trance. It’s a world that I find very easy to just zone out in.
This movie has a lot of humour, how do you deal with it?
I think humour is very specific. We all have a different sense of humour. I think when you do a comedy you have to make sure that it’s something that’s in your sensibility range. There’s no way I could have done this movie if I didn’t find it to have a humour similar to mine. I think Seth McFarlane, who wrote and stars in the film, is really funny.
You are known for your dramatic roles – do you wish for more comedic roles?
I always say this - I’m in no position to complain. I work a lot on things that I really want to work on and I’m a very, very blessed human being in general so for me to complain about anything would be really ungrateful.
Has becoming a mother changed you?
I try to get more sleep (laughs). I have to organize things better but, no, over all - I’ve heard of people say that once they have children they don’t want to work on dark material and that hasn’t happened for me. If anything, having a child makes me want to be more creative and ask bigger questions and have more interest in things that might be uncomfortable. He just gives me energy to want to explore everything a little more.
It seems that you and your mother are very close...
I have a real closeness to my mum, we’re friends, but she’s my mother first and foremost and that’s how I was raised. I think that’s why we are so close, because she never tried to just be my friend - she is my mum, so I think that is why we’ve had the relationship that we’ve always had and it’s a healthy one. She’s not my girlfriend – she just happens to be the person that I really like, who is actually funny and all of that stuff, but she’s the first person that will put me in line the way a parent does. I don’t mind that because it brings us closer together.
When she gives you advice, how do you take it?
I think that every child wants to have their parent be proud of them. I think anybody who won’t say that is secretly hiding something. I think there is definitely a pleasing sense when it comes to a child and a parent. I think we’re all human beings and it can sometimes be harder to take advice from a parent. I’ve had moments with my mum where she says ‘that movie is awful, ’ but I’d rather her be incredibly honest because then when she says: ‘That movie is really good,’ I really believe it, you know.
How do you feel about your collaboration with Dior?
I didn’t like being a model, but I liked the world of design, not that I am an expert on that or anything like it, but it’s been a really interesting journey for me. I have had a great experience with Dior. It’s the opposite of what you think it would be. It’s really not superficial, but it’s been very creative.
When you look back on your childhood and what you do today, did you dream of becoming a successful actress?
No, not at all. I don’t think anybody could dream that big. I think anybody who has gone through that experience would tell you that. It would be very grandiose to sit around and expect those things to come to you. I’ve never heard of an actor who didn’t just want to be able to pay the bills and not have to be a waitress or waiter on the side.
You grew up in South Africa – what did Nelson Mandela mean to you?
He was a huge inspiration and he was our great liberator. He was the reason why South Africa is united as it is today. I was very honoured to know him and call him my friend. I think very rarely do people as great as that come into your life and have a huge influence on you so I feel incredibly lucky that I got to experience that.
When you see yourself so blessed and see people who are not as blessed as you, what do you do?
I’ve always worked in the field of HIV and anti-rape - that’s been the last 20 years of my life. Coming from a country like South Africa, it’s absolutely impossible to forget how incredibly blessed my life has turned out and how that is not the case for many people in my country. In starting my organization in 2007, Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, we focus now primarily on prevention care when it comes to HIV and AIDS and giving children and youth in South Africa some kind of a future to look up to; not only taking ownership of their health and making choices to actually save their own lives, but to give them something to live for. That has become a huge part of my life and that is the only reason I go back to South Africa. My work with the UN couldn’t be more neutralizing and sobering to really, really witness the fortunate aspect of all of our lives.
Did shooting this movie remind you of your youth in Africa?
I was raised in an unreal farm life, with horses around. There’s something to be said about growing up on a farm, especially in Africa, where it’s rough and tumble. In South Africa, you can’t take yourself too seriously, because you won’t survive! I think if you grow up in a place where you see a lot of heartache, you actually end up with a pretty good sense of humour. My country has been in a state of conflict for as long as I can remember, and that’s what I was raised in. Growing up, I was dreaming about this giantness above me.