How many transfixing characters can one actress play in her career?
Because whatever the estimate, Charlize Theron blew right past it a long time ago.
Whether she's playing a determined detective or a post-apocalyptic road warrior, a serial killer or a news anchor, an evil fairy-tale queen or an immortal mercenary, Theron immerses herself completely, somehow becoming unrecognizable despite her famously stunning face.
But while the end result tends to be the same—a critically acclaimed performance, hence the Oscar win and two other nominations—she has honed her approach to acting over the years, what used to work for her at 20 not necessarily making sense to her by 40.
"I go to my trailer, I take my makeup off and I go home," Theron, turning 47 on August 7, told the Daily Mirror. "I don't know how people stay in character. I'm too lazy. I've got two kids to raise and I have dog s--t to pick up in the backyard."
"I don't know how you do that in character," she continued. "It's exhausting. It's so f--king exhausting. I learned pretty early on, the more I let go, the better—which, in the beginning, was harder for me—but now I'm very disciplined about it."
Since it may not be the most prudent move anyway, to mix the baggage of playing a ruthless assassin for two months with bedtime stories, it sounds as though Theron has figured out a work-life balance that suits her family.
In turn, the South African-born star keeps notching jobs well done, including standout reviews for her turn in 2020's The Old Guard—and she didn't even need to leave her cage to compel in F9.
Here's how she's been getting it done, time after time:
This story was originally published on Friday, August 7, 2020 at 3 a.m.