ACTRESS CHARLIZE THERON!
Charlize Theron. The myth. The living legend. The unparalleled goddess. Anyone who's been reading this site for the last 5 years or so should know of my unhealthy infatuation with this supremely talented and statuesque South African native. I love this woman. Sean Penn, screw you! On the real though, now that we're slapping Ms. Theron under the Dissection lens this week, I promise to do my best to avoid a hagiographic love-fest, and instead give the gal the critical incisions she deserves. I mean, SWEET NOVEMBER? Unacceptable! Nah, romantic debacles aside, Charlize has always championed the dark-side of cinema, appearing over the years in such widely varied genre flicks as THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE, THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE, TRAPPED, MONSTER, THE ITALIAN JOB, AEON FLUX, THE ROAD, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, PROMETHEUS, and of course, has MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, due next May. Hell, my girl even made her screen debut in CHILDREN OF THE CORN III: URBAN HARVEST for crying out loud! So, with a talent as tall as her beauty, a range as diverse as her background...it's now time to Dissect the inimitable Ms. Charlize Theron!
With more than a decade to sit, settle and breathe, I'm quite confident calling the gritty '03 indie docu-drama MONSTER Theron's preeminent tour-de-force. What a knockout performance! First, my girl earned an Oscar as Best Leading Actress for portraying the deeply complex real-life serial killer Aileen Wournos. Deservedly so, she was that good! Now, granted, the cynic could call the casting choice easy Oscar bait...a paunchy bisexual prostitute serial killer played by a goddamn runway model? Well, Charlize kneecapped any sort of criticism with her blistering performance, loudly stating that she is and will always be FAR more than just a gorgeous blonde restricted to the vapid love interest in insipid rom-coms (SWEET NOVEMBER, I hate you!) If you've not seen MONSTER, it follows the seedy exploits of Wournos, a Daytona working girl whom, as circumstances would befall, became a convicted serial killer. That is, in order to remain faithful to her newfound lesbian love, she started killing her johns as a way of avoiding having sex with them. A wonderfully sordid true story, most of it, realized with great believability by Theron, Ricci and the rest of the cast.
Then there's the physical transformation Charlize underwent - from a statuesque runway model with a world-class face and frame - to a hulking, filth-ridden bundle of manic and maniacal energy ready to erupt at any given moment. Theron absolutely nailed the physicality...pacing, twitching, storming about with rage and brute force when agitated...yet stripped down, raw and vulnerable when intimate with the Christina Ricci character. No question, here's an example of an actor getting to soar high and swoon low, to paint with every color and shade in the paint-box. Physically and emotionally ugly to the extreme...yet totally tender, human and sympathetic on the flipside. It's a delicate high-wire act. That such a turn had the added pressure of appeasing the living person on which it is based, well, that not only ups the difficulty quotient, it makes the whole thing that much more impressive. To truly humanize a character whose criminal actions are so deplorable is one thing - but to somehow honor without alienating that real-life person at the same time - that's another. Special stuff!
Far be it from me to use the words Charlize Theron and Worst in the same sentence, but hey, when you appear as an uncredited "young woman" in CHILDREN OF THE CORN III: URBAN HARVEST, you open yourself up to some serious f*cking ribbing. Ah, who am I to talk shit, this was Charlize's very first screen appearance. I'm sure she was just thrilled to be there, as I know I would be. But the fact remains, URBAN HARVEST is quite clearly the worst flick she's participated in, outside of SWEET NOVEMBER of course (God I truly loathe that flick). Sure, I could go on to question bigger parts she played in equally dubious early efforts like REINDEER GAMES, MIGHTY JOE YOUNG, etc...silly movies incapable of showcasing her true talent. But hey, a girl's gotta eat, and you can tell these were choices made by a young actor just grateful to find work. As she honed her craft, made a name for herself and ultimately won an Oscar, now Charlize has far more laterality when choosing projects. And the work shows!
How about this for a trademark: blending, to the highest degree, beauty and talent in one body and mind! Seriously, can you think of a more beauteous, radiant creature who happens to actually have an equal aptitude for acting? No, not Johnny Depp! Charlize is a throwback, one some have likened to the glamorous Kim Novak, the kind of well rounded actress that Hollywood used to foster. Nowadays, if you're a model in a popular Blurred Lines video, for example, you land a role in the next Zac Efron flick. Maybe that's how it always worked, after all, Charlize did begin her career as a model. That said, it's clear that was just a launch-point to expose her for what real talent she had all along...the ability to tell stories through a wide swath of interesting, multifaceted characters, working with the best actors and directors in the biz, daring to go places and shine the light on the kinds of people - fiction or nonfiction - whose unglamorous lives would otherwise go untold. In other words, it'd be real easy I'm sure for someone like Charlize to capitalize on her looks alone, but that she has the burning desire and talent for, and drive to, do something far more artistically inclined...and then execute such at the highest level...well, you can start to see why I want to marry this gal!
Believe it or not, there's a true hidden gem in Charlize's jewelry box that I'm willing to bet the majority of you have never heard of, much less seen. But before we get into that, I'd just like to cast a little love to Charlize's bit parts in bigger, more conspicuous movies. Shite like PROMETHEUS, where she played the icy-power-queen Vickers to-a-tee! Or her captivating turn as The Woman in THE ROAD, giving the great Viggo Mortensen all he can handle. I could cite her real first starring role in the '96 crime picture 2 DAYS IN THE VALLEY, or the femme-fatale of a love-interest she nailed in THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE. These aren't necessarily lead roles, but she made her mark in each nonetheless. So much so that she did get to take first billing in what I consider Charlize's truly overlooked movie...the 2002 kidnap thriller TRAPPED.
Have you seen TRAPPED, co-starring Kevin Bacon? Well, it's quite a solid kidnap thriller, made before such a huge resurgence of the subgenre took hold about a decade later. Pretty simple setup. When Theron and Bacon's daughter is kidnapped by seasoned pros, they must scramble to come up with a plan to flip the script and get her back. So yeah, it's not in the originality but the execution. Theron shines as a protective matriarch, hysterically imperiled at times, utterly ass-kicking at others. Dakota Fanning plays the kidnapped daughter, with Pruitt Taylor Vince, Stuart Townsend, Courtney Love and Colleen Camp giving credible support. It isn't a great film, but it's a well paced, very well acted thriller that not only marked Charlize's first leading role (first on the call sheet), it's certainly the most buried on her resume as well. If you get a chance though, check it out!
As the ever-in-demand A-lister she is, Charlize actually has a couple of upcoming projects of note for all us Arrow in the Headers. The one we're most excited about, of course, is George Miller's decades-long awaited MAD MAX sequel, FURY ROAD. The flick doesn't drop until May of '15, but have you seen the trailer? Charlize is portraying a character called Imperator Furiosa, how dope is that?! Not sure about you, but I cannot fucking wait for this one!
Here's the official FURY ROAD synopsis:
An apocalyptic story set in the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and most everyone is crazed fighting for the necessities of life. Within this world exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order. There's Max, a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos. And Furiosa (Theron), a woman of action and a woman who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.
Also, since we're such fans of whodunit murder mysteries around here, it's worth noting that Charlize recently completed one such project called DARK PLACES, which hits limited theaters September 1st (yes, this September). The Louisiana shot French production from director Gilles Paquet-Brenner also stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Corey Stoller, Christina Hendricks, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan and Drea de Matteo. Not bad support, right?
Here's the storyline for DARK PLACES:
A woman who survived the brutal killing of her family as a child is forced to confront the events of that day by a secret society obsessed with solving notorious crimes.
As interesting as the premise is on its own, the poignancy relating to Charlize's personal life growing up is even more intriguing. That's all I will say on that, so not to scratch old wounds, but suffice it to say, I can't think of a more qualified actor - on and off screen - for this specific role. Hopefully, perhaps for her own sake, the part offered a chance to therapeutically exorcise some past demons. Or hell, at least to make out with Christina Hendricks!
Come on now, what about Charlize Theron could you NOT fall head over heels in love with? This chick fucking rocks! Whether it's consistently mixing in with her prestige drama pictures her obvious love for genre flicks - lending one killer turn after another in shite like THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE, THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE, TRAPPED, MONSTER, AEON FLUX, THE ROAD, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, PROMETHEUS, not to mention soon to be DARK PLACES and MAD MAX: FURY ROAD - or whether she pops up in silly shite like Arrested Development or Funny Or Die, Charlize can do no wrong.
And to the former end, since this is AITH, we really couldn't speak to Theron's dramatic work in movies that I personally love, admire and respect as much as any. I'm talking YOUNG ADULT. I'm talking NORTH COUNTRY. IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH. THE BURNING PLAIN. Heavyweight performances in important pictures. I'm talking the kinds of flicks Theron hasn't shied away from, but wholly embraced, since exploring the dark depths of MONSTER back in '03. Hell, I'm talking a little movie nobody saw, I mean nobody, called WAKING UP IN RENO with Billy Bob Thornton and the late Pat Swayze and Miranda Richardson. Charlize in a bad perm, acid washed jeans and a southern accent? Pure comedy gold! Lizey, my girl, all I can say is thank you and keep up the tremendous work!