Charlize Theron: shooting star

The South Africa-born actor has always commanded respect by sticking to her guns and going against the grain. So how does an Oscar winner end up starring in Ted guy Seth MacFarlane’s new gross-out comedy western?

Fri, May 30, 2014, 00:00

“I love those shows. I’ve been a massive fan for many years. Apart from anything else, you felt like you had to watch them because he was shaking things up. He plays by his own rules. He’s like this uber-talented Renaissance man. I never wanted to go make a comedy just for the sake of it. But I love R-rated comedies. So it felt like a natural fit for me.”

It is, despite her prolific career, the closest Theron has ever come to playing a conventional romcom heroine, I note.

“Yeah. But at the beginning my career just naturally took a very dramatic turn. And when you started in a dramatic films, you stayed in dramatic films. And I was very happy there. Creatively speaking. I think today it’s a little different. That barrier has been broken. People don’t necessarily think that a dramatic actor has to do drama all the time. Ten years ago, 15 years ago, there was definitely an idea that you don’t play on my field and I won’t play on yours.”

Was her process any different?

“Well, it’s weird. Comedy is harder than drama because drama is very general, whereas comedy is very specific. We all have a sense of humour that determines if we find something funny or not. And that can vary wildly from person to person.

“But I actually didn’t have to do a lot other than service the story. There was a time when I thought – and I think all actors get this – that unless you’re completely submerged in a role, unless you’ve completely transformed yourself physically, and found a voice that is not your own – then you’re not doing your job right. This was a bit of a revelation. Because I didn’t have to do any of that stuff. When I watched the movie, I could definitely see me on screen.”

Theron has a son, Jackson, whose adoption was announced in March 2012. Has that had an impact on her work, I wonder?

“Not so much. He’s really young right now. He’s not in school. So he gets to come on little adventures with me. He loved the set for this movie. There were so many animals around and lots of dirt. And beyond that, it’s somewhat effortless because I don’t ever for a second question it.

“I’m very lucky. I’m in a position where if I don’t want to work I don’t have to. It’s a really nice place to be and I don’t take that for granted. Not for a second.”