Warner Bros. Pictures
Since her film debut in 1995, Charlize Theron has been one of the best and most consistent actresses in Hollywood. From her early work in That Thing You Do, her breathtaking Oscar-winning performance in Monster and her impeccable performance as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, Theron has shown both range and enthusiasm when taking on different roles.
Theron took time during her Comic-Con@Home panel to reflect on her two-decade career in a lengthy retrospective Q&A moderated by IGN’s Terri Schwartz. Terri welcomed Charlize and got things started by looking into when Theron’s journey into action-focused roles began. Theron said she’s always wanted to explore them but was never given the chance until recently.
She spoke of her childhood raised on Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris films, and ironically Mad Max films, which drew her to the genre. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until she first won the Oscar, that she would get an opportunity to enter the genre as there were not many roles for women in action at that time.
Along with the stigma that women can’t lead an action film, her first entry into the genre, Æon Flux, was a commercial and critical failure in 2005 that would bring a halt to her action film career progression. It would not be unto 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, where her success and chance opened up even more. She goes on to talk about the freshness in looking into the action-genre from a female lead instead of a male-oriented action film dominating the genre.
As the Q&A shifted to today’s action films, the subject of stunt work came into play. Terri brought up a valid point to the evolution of stunt sequences from the past, where it would be quick cuts to create a fast-paced action set piece to now being long-continuous battle takes. Theron brought up that it was a great observation as she was unaware of the change and didn’t realize it until she was on the set of Atomic Blonde, where she would shoot 7-10 minute action scenes at a time.
As expected, Mad Max: Fury Road was a topic of conversation where the bar is set so high, Theron joked that it’s allowed “crappy action films to survive.” Theron called Fury Road a tremendous feat and one of her most difficult shoots but felt it was a great challenge. Regarding the status Furiosa has attained over the past five years, she feels blessed that even in a supporting role, the character can still have an effect on women than Ripley from Alien had for her growing up.
She talks about the characters she plays and how she feels it’s essential for women that see her films to think that they see a little bit of themselves in the particular role she is playing. In regards to the future of female action heroes, she wants her daughters to grow up and not find it weird to see a female lead an action film and that the casting of women in leading roles will be commonplace.
To close out the Q&A, Terri brought up a quote from a colleague at Theron’s production company, who defined that “nothing scares her” regarding to the roles she takes. She mentions that the truth is that everything does scare her and how she has never been able to create without being fearful, and her creativity thrives on fear.
The panel was a nice dive into what drives the Academy Award winner and the standard she has set for herself and the future of women in the action genre.
Charlize Theron: Evolution of a Badass – An Action Hero Career Retrospective