Born in South Africa, Charlize Theron moved to the US when she was a teenager. She was previously a dancer, but after knee damage could no longer carry on dancing. This apparently devastated her at the time, but she decided to become an actor and moved to Hollywood.
According to rumour she was then discovered by an agent whilst having a tantrum at a bank clerk when the bank clerk wouldn’t cash her cheque. Her striking appearance probably helped at the time, although she has proved throughout her acting career that she is much more than a pretty leading lady.
Charlize Theron is a brilliant actor; she is extremely versatile and is brilliant at putting in a passionate and thorough performance. Since her first speaking role in 2 Days in the Valley (1996) she has been hitting up a storm in Hollywood. She has been in her fair share of turkeys (she was nominated for the Worst Actress Razzie for Sweet November), but her amazing performances in the brilliant films she is in makes up for that.
She has won numerous awards for her performance as the serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster (2003) including the Oscar, and she also received an Oscar nomination for her performance in North Country (2005).
She is turning heads for her amazing performance in this year’s Mad Max: Fury Road and is soon to be starring in many more films coming out over the next couple of years including Dark Places (based on another book by Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn). She is also reprising her role of the evil Queen she portrayed in Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) in The Huntsman.
10. The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
In her first leading role Theron plays Mary Ann, the glamorous small town American country wife of Keanu Reeve’s unbeatable Defence Attorney, Kevin Lomax. When Kevin takes a case, he wins the case. The film begins with Kevin in Court defending an obvious child molester which leaves Kevin in a bit of a moral pickle as to what to do, carry on with his winning streak, or decide not to defend a sexual predator. His ego gets the better of him and he chooses the former.
When Kevin is offered a high powered job in New York City by Al Pacino’s John Milton, the couple move there. At first everything is wonderful and they have everything they could have ever wished for. However, after a while things start to go badly, particularly for Theron’s character.
As Kevin gains more power and spends more time at work, Mary Ann begins to see things. She eventually starts to get progressively worse and Mary Ann and Kevin become distant from each other, him having lustful thoughts of his colleague (Connie Nielsen).
Theron plays this part so well and you really feel for her character. She is amazing at transforming between the vivacious and confident woman at the beginning of the film to a blubbering emotional and frightened wreck towards the end. The best thing in The Devil’s Advocate is most definitely Theron’s performance. The film received mixed reviews, but overall it is a highly enjoyable thriller with a moral tale and some great characters.
9. The Italian Job (2003)
This version of The Italian Job is of course a remake; however it really did succeed as a good film in its own right. Theron plays Stella Bridger, the daughter of respected and notorious crook, John Bridger (Donald Sutherland). Stella is skilled at opening a vast array of safes.
When the group of burglars led by John are carrying out a complicated robbery, John is killed by a vengeful money greedy traitor, Steve (Ed Norton). Stella moves away and distances herself, and the group of burglars separate. However, when Charlie Croker (John’s protégée who is played by Mark Wahlberg) hears of a lead of Steve’s whereabouts he contacts Stella as he needs her expertise to open Steve’s safe.
The performances in The Italian Job are brilliant and all the main characters are funny and endearing in their own way, bouncing off each other well. The other members of the burglary group are played by Jason Statham, Seth Green and Mos Def and the bond they share is a joy to watch, each character will written and acted.
Theron plays her part well, sad and angry over the death of her father but brave and intelligent and she is a welcome addition to the team as the only female character. Obviously this film will never live up to the original, but it is a fun and entertaining watch nonetheless.
8. The Cider House Rules (1999)
In this film, which was nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture, Theron is introduced some way into the film as a woman who visits the orphanage of Michael Caine’s Doctor Wilbut Larch for an abortion. The film begins with Dr. Larch narrating his move to the orphanage where he takes a little boy under his wing, a little boy who keeps getting returned from adoptive parents. He names the boy Homer, and as Homer grows up he teaches him what he knows and he becomes a brilliant and calm doctor himself.
Dr. Larch tells Homer that he has a heart condition which must mean he remain calm at all times. Dr. Larch performs abortions at the orphanage as he believes that women have the human right to a safe procedure. Homer knows how to carry out the procedure, but unlike Dr. Lurch he doesn’t wish to carry the procedure out himself and they greatly differ in opinion on this matter.
When Theron’s character, Candy, departs the orphanage with her partner, Wally (Paul Rudd) Homer makes a spur of the moment decision that it is his time to leave and goes with them, to Dr Larch’s sadness. When Wally goes off to war, eventually Homer and Candy begin an affair. Homer is unable to carry out service due to his heart condition.
When Wally returns from war, he needs caring for and Candy decides it is her duty to stay with him and care for him. Homer returns to the orphanage where he becomes the new manager. It is not really Theron’s film, it is Michael Caine’s, but she is a wonderful addition to it. She plays the part of Candy perfectly, very sweet and endearing, and as usual is a pleasure to watch.
7. In the Valley of Elah (2007)
Based on real life events, In the Valley of Elah tells the story of Hank (Tommy Lee Jones) and his wife Joan (Susan Sarandon) and the search for their son, Mike, a soldier who goes missing after he returns from Iraq. Theron plays the detective who becomes very involved with the hunt for their son. When Mike’s body is discovered the military try to hamper the investigation in this film, which is based on a true story.
It is a very interesting film although bleak, and a good murder mystery also. Theron and Jones shine in their roles, in fact I can’t imagine anyone else playing the part that Tommy Lee Jones does; he is so believable in his role. Theron is brilliant as the detective; she gets on with her job ignoring the sexism that targets her every day life.
6. The Road (2009)
The Road is a post-apocalyptic drama based on the book of the same name. The main characters do not have names; they are only Mother, Father and Son. The film mainly follows father and son (Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee) as they struggle to survive after civilisation has collapsed. Theron plays the wife and mother in a series of flashbacks, depicting her giving birth to their son and trying to survive in their new world. Although she is only in the film in flashbacks her performance is powerful and memorable.
The Road is a highly powerful and brilliantly dark film, and is made so much better by the powerful performances of all three leads. It is distressing to watch, but an interesting tale of the end of civilisation and humanity.