Monday, May 24, 2010
She rose to fame in the late 1990s following her roles in 2 Days in the Valley, Mighty Joe Young, The Devil's Advocate, and The Cider House Rules. She received critical acclaim and an Academy Award for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the film Monster, for which she became the first person from any African country to win an Academy Award in a major acting category. She received another Academy Award nomination for her performance in North Country.
Theron was born in Benoni, Transvaal Province, South Africa, the only child of Gerda Jacoba Aletta (née Maritz; born January 27, 1953) and Charles Jacobus Theron (died 1990). Her mother is of German descent and her father was of French and Dutch ancestry; Theron is directly descended from early Huguenot settlers, and Boer War figure Daniel Theron was her great-grandfather's brother. "Theron" is an Occitan surname (originally spelled Théron) pronounced in Afrikaans as "Tronn", although she said that the way it is pronounced in South Africa is "Thrown".
Although fluent in American English, her first language is Afrikaans. She grew up on her parents' farm in Benoni, near Johannesburg. She attended Putfontein Primary School (Laerskool Putfontein). At the age of 13, Theron was sent to boarding school and began her studies at the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg. At the age of 15, Charlize Theron witnessed the death of her father, reportedly an abusive alcoholic; her mother shot him in self-defence when he attacked her. The police pressed no charges against her.
At the age of 16, Theron traveled to Milan on a one-year modeling contract, after winning a local competition. She went to New York with Pauline's Model Management. She decided to remain after her contract ended, attending the Joffrey Ballet School, where she trained as a ballet dancer. A knee injury closed this career path when Theron was 19.
Unable to dance, Theron flew to Los Angeles on a one-way ticket her mother bought her. During her early months there, she went to a bank to cash a check her mother had sent her to help with the rent. When the teller refused to cash it, Theron immediately started a shouting match with her. Afterwards, a talent agent in line behind her handed her his business card and subsequently introduced her to some casting agents and also an acting school. She later fired him as her manager after he kept sending her scripts for films similar to Showgirls and Species. After eight months in the city, she was cast in her first film part, a non-speaking role in the direct-to-video film Children of the Corn III (1995). Larger roles in widely released Hollywood films followed, and her career skyrocketed in the late 1990s with box office successes like The Devil's Advocate (1997), Mighty Joe Young (1998), and The Cider House Rules (1999). She glossed the cover of the January 1999 issue of Vanity Fair as the "White Hot Venus".
Theron at the premiere of North Country at the
2005 Toronto Film Festival
After appearing in a few notable films, Theron starred as the serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster (2003). Film critic Roger Ebert called it "one of the greatest performances in the history of the cinema". For this role, Theron won the Academy Award for Best Actress at the 76th Academy Awards in February 2004, as well as the SAG Award and the Golden Globe Award. She is the first African to win an Oscar for Best Actress. The Oscar win pushed her to The Hollywood Reporter's 2006 list of highest-paid actresses in Hollywood; earning $10,000,000 for both her subsequent films, North Country and Æon Flux, she ranked seventh, behind Halle Berry, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Renée Zellweger, Reese Witherspoon, and Nicole Kidman.
On September 30, 2005, Theron received her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In the same year, she starred in the financially unsuccessful science fiction thriller Æon Flux.
Theron received Best Actress Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for her lead performance in the drama North Country. Ms. magazine also honored her for this performance with a feature article in its Fall 2005 issue.
In 2005, Theron portrayed Rita, Michael Bluth's (Jason Bateman) love interest, on the third season of Fox's critically-acclaimed television series Arrested Development. She also received Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for her role of Britt Ekland in the 2004 HBO movie The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.
In 2007, Esquire named her the Sexiest Woman Alive.
In 2008, Theron was named the Hasty Pudding Theatricals Woman of the Year. That year she also starred with Will Smith in Hancock, a movie that grossed $227.9M in the U.S.A. and $396.4M internationally,and in late 2008 she was asked to be a UN Messenger of Peace by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
On November 10, 2008, TV Guide reported that Theron will star in the film adaptation of The Danish Girl alongside Nicole Kidman. Theron will play Gerda Wegener, wife of Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe (Kidman), the world's first known person to undergo sex reassignment surgery. In October 2009, Theron was cast to star in a sequel to the Mad Max films, titled Mad Max: Road Fury, which will commence filming at Broken Hill in New South Wales Australia in late 2010.
On December 4, 2009, Theron co-presented the draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa, accompanied by several other celebrities of South African origin. During rehearsals she drew an Ireland ball instead of France as a joke at the expense of FIFA, referring to Thierry Henry's handball controversy in the play off match between France and Ireland. The stunt alarmed FIFA enough for it to fear she might do it again in front of a live global audience.
Theron still resides in her Los Angeles home, though her ex-boyfriend Stuart Townsend, with whom she starred in the 2004 film Head in the Clouds, as well as in the 2002 film Trapped and 2005 Æon Flux has moved to their co-owned property in Malibu. The couple split up in January 2010.
Theron became a naturalized citizen of the United States in May 2007.
Theron signed with William Morris Endeavour in 2009 and is represented by CEO Ari Emanuel.
While filming Æon Flux in Berlin, Germany, Theron suffered a herniated disc in her neck, which occurred as a result of her suffering a fall while filming a series of back handsprings. This required her to wear a neck collar for a month.
In July 2009, Theron was diagnosed with a serious virus, thought to be contracted while traveling overseas. She was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.
Having signed a deal with John Galliano in 2004, Theron replaced Estonian model Tiiu Kuik as the spokeswoman in the J'ADORE advertisements by Christian Dior. On December 18, 2007, she finally stripped for Dior's J'Adore perfume. Galliano has reputedly cited her as a muse and has been creating couture dresses for her to wear to formal red carpet events such as the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards.
From October 2005 to December 2006, Theron earned $3,000,000 for the use of her image in a worldwide print media advertising campaign for Raymond Weil watches. In February 2006, she and her loan-out corporation were sued by Weil for breach of contract. The lawsuit was settled on November 4, 2008.
Theron is involved in women's rights organizations, and marched for abortion rights.
Theron is a supporter of animal rights and active member of PETA. She appeared in a PETA ad for their anti-fur campaign. She is also an active supporter of Democracy Now! and Link TV. She is a supporter of same-sex marriage and attended a march in Fresno, California on 30 May 2009.
In July 2009, it was announced that Charlize Theron's Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP) would form a coalition with LAFC Soccer Club to give soccer fields to rural areas in South Africa. LAFC Chelsea, one of the United States's most successful and prominent youth soccer clubs, made a three-year commitment to help build a community-wide soccer program for the schools in the Umkhanyakude District. This help includes uniforms, cleats, balls and equipment, along with professional training for local coaches, referees and administrators. The soccer league training will also include life-saving health education administered through a CTAOP-funded mobile health program. With the 2010 FIFA World Cup on African soil for the very first time, CTAOP wants to put a spotlight on the urgent need to provide sustainable health, education and recreational resources to remote areas where HIV/AIDS rates are unacceptably high.
Don Sheppards, president of LAFC Chelsea said:
“ ...when I learned about Charlize's incredible plan to give sustainable opportunities to young South Africans who are at enormous risk, I knew that LAFC Chelsea was in position to help. Our goal is to help truly create a safer, healthier and better life for the young people in South Africa, especially those living in remote areas, and to ensure that the resources we bring are self sustaining. The three year commitment is so incredible and key to being sure that the program will be around for many years to come", says Charlize Theron. "I'm overwhelmed with gratitude to Don and LAFC Chelsea for their commitment to help us give these beautiful, young people a recreational outlet that is sorely lacking from their lives.”
Year Film Role Notes
1995 Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest Young Woman Uncredited
1996 2 Days in the Valley Helga Svelgen
That Thing You Do! Tina Powers
1997 Hollywood Confidential Sally TV film
Trial and Error Billie Tyler
The Devil's Advocate Mary Ann Lomax
1998 Celebrity Supermodel
Mighty Joe Young Jill Young Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
1999 The Astronaut's Wife Jillian Armacost
The Cider House Rules Candy Kendall Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Movie
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2000 Reindeer Games Ashley Mercer
The Yards Erica Stoltz
The Legend of Bagger Vance Adele Invergordon
Men of Honor Gwen Sunday
2001 Sweet November Sara Deever
The Curse of the Jade Scorpion Laura Kensington
15 Minutes Rose Heam
2002 Trapped Karen Jennings
Waking Up in Reno Candy Kirkendall
2003 The Italian Job Stella Bridger
Monster Aileen Wuornos Academy Award for Best Actress
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama
Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature
Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Female
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
National Board of Review Award for Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Satellite Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role - Motion Picture
Silver Bear for Best Actress (tied with Catalina Sandino Moreno for Maria full of Grace)
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated—London Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Irish Film & Television Award for Best International Actress
2004 The Life and Death of Peter Sellers Britt Ekland Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Head in the Clouds Gilda Bessé
2005 North Country Josey Aimes Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated—Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role - Motion Picture
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Æon Flux Æon Flux
2007 In the Valley of Elah Det. Emily Sanders
2008 Sleepwalking Joleen Also producer
Battle in Seattle Ella Stuart Townsend directing
2009 The Burning Plain Sylvia Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actress
The Road Wife
Astro Boy Narrator 'Our Friends'
Television guest appearances
Year Title Role Notes
2005 Arrested Development Rita 5 episodes
2006 Robot Chicken Daniel's Mom / Mother / Waitress 1 episode