Theron, Charlize


Theron, Charlize
▪ 2005

      Throughout Charlize Theron's acting career, the one attribute that was sure to be mentioned was her beauty. She managed to put at least a temporary stop to that, however, when—in completely inhabiting the character of real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the 2003 motion picture Monster—she was almost unrecognizable, thanks partly to a nearly 14-kg (30-lb) weight gain, stringy hair, and a dental prosthesis. For her performance, in which she brought out Wuornos's humanity in addition to her troubled, brutal side, Theron was awarded the 2004 Academy Award for best actress, the first South African to be so honoured.

      Theron was born on Aug. 7, 1975, in Benoni, S.Af., and grew up on a farm near that town. Her home life was stormy, and at age 13, wanting to continue ballet studies she had begun when she was 6, she began attending a boarding school that specialized in the arts. During a visit home when she was 15, however, she was witness to her mother's shooting and killing her father in self defense after being attacked by him while he was drunk. Soon after that, Theron learned that her mother had entered her in a modeling contest some months earlier and that she had been awarded a contract in Italy. She moved to Milan at age 16, studied dance in addition to modeling, and two years later, in New York City on assignment and at the end of her contract, stayed there, continued modeling, and began studying at the Joffrey Ballet's school. A knee injury ended her chances of a career in dance, however, and she attempted, unsuccessfully, to pursue acting jobs. Theron's mother then persuaded her to move to Hollywood, but she was having no luck there either until—in true Hollywood-legend style—an agent noticed her when she made a loud scene because a bank would not cash a check from a New York modeling job. She began getting some small parts, one of which—in 2 Days in the Valley (1996)—gained her favourable notice and paved the way for her first lead, in The Devil's Advocate (1997). That film showcased her acting ability and versatility and led to further substantial roles, notably in Mighty Joe Young (1998), Celebrity (1998), The Cider House Rules (1999), and The Italian Job (2003).

      Following Monster Theron was seen in the 2004 films The Life and Death of Peter Sellers and Head in the Clouds and filmed Aeon Flux, due to be released in 2005. Future projects were to include Class Action, also scheduled to be seen in 2005, and The Italian Job II and The Ice at the Bottom of the World, both planned for a 2006 release. In addition, in August 2004 it was announced that Theron had signed a three-year contract to star in advertisements as the face of the Christian Dior perfume J'adore.

Barbara Whitney

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▪ South African actress
born Aug. 7, 1975, Benoni, S.Af.
 
 South African–born actress, who was noted for her versatility and earned an Academy Award for best actress for her performance as a real-life serial killer in Monster (2003).

      Theron grew up on a farm near Benoni, S.Af. At age 13, wanting to continue her ballet studies, she began attending a boarding school that specialized in the arts. During a visit home when she was 15, her mother shot and killed her father in self-defense after being attacked by him while he was drunk. At age 16 Theron moved to Milan to work as a model. Two years later she settled in New York City, where she continued to model and began studying at the Joffrey Ballet School. A knee injury ended her chances of a career in dance, however, and she attempted, unsuccessfully, to pursue acting jobs.

      Theron eventually moved to Hollywood, and while making a loud scene after a bank refused to cash a check, she was discovered by an agent. She subsequently began landing some small parts, one of which—in 2 Days in the Valley (1996)—gained her favourable notice and paved the way for her first lead, in The Devil's Advocate (1997). That film showcased her acting ability and versatility and led to further substantial roles, notably in Mighty Joe Young (1998), Celebrity (1998), The Cider House Rules (1999), and The Italian Job (2003). Her acting talent was further expressed in her award-winning performance as serial killer Aileen Wuornos (Wuornos, Aileen) in Monster. Theron's immersion in the role—she became almost unrecognizable, thanks partly to a nearly 30-lb (14-kg) weight gain—helped her become the first South African to win an Oscar for best actress.

      Theron appeared in two movies in 2004, The Life and Death of Peter Sellers and Head in the Clouds. Her performance as a miner battling sexual harassment in North Country (2005) earned Theron an Academy Award nomination for best actress. Her later films include In the Valley of Elah (2007) and Hancock (2008).

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Universalium. 2010.

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