02 Feb W Magazine features the stunning Charlize Theron
Lynn Hirschberg: In Young Adult, you play Mavis Gary, who is stunning on the outside and a mess on the inside. Returning to the small town in Minnesota where she reigned as the beauty/bitch of her high school, Mavis sets out to reclaim her ex-boyfriend, now married. She is self-involved, delusional, and generally hard to like, which is rare for a female protagonist in a comedy. Do you have to like a character to play her?
Charlize Theron: I liked Mavis, but no, I donâ€™t think I need to like my characters. I do think empathy is very important. Itâ€™s crucial to understand circumstance and story to grasp the role in a truthful manner. Your characters are like your children: Sometimes they make you proud, and other times, you think, Oh, really?! In Young Adult, I wanted to show some cringe-worthy moments that only women will get.
Like the â€œcutlets.â€ Mavis wears flesh-Âcolored glue-on gel-filled â€œbreastsâ€ over her real ones.
I wear those! If you donâ€™t have boobs, you wear those cutlets. I heard a story of a girl who was on a date, started making out, and thought, Oh, heâ€™s going to touch the cutlets! So she went to the bathroom to take them off, but her purse was too small to put them in there. I always thought that was a funny image, a woman not knowing what to do with these things that you stick onto your boobs. Itâ€™s just the most bizarre, unsexy thing there isâ€”so I added that to Mavis.
Growing up in South Africa, were you always tall and blonde and beautiful?
For the first eight years of my life, I didnâ€™t have front teeth. I was pretty sick as an infant, and antibiotics rotted them. But then I started to take dance classes, and I eventually got some teeth [laughs]. When I was 16, I went to Milan to model.
Did you dream of being an actress?
I wanted to be a ballerina, but I was too tall, and I had too many injuries. What I loved as a ballerina was telling stories, and I could also do that with acting, so I eventually moved to L.A.
You had a star-is-born moment as a result of your first role. For 2 Days in the Valley, you were on a billboard over Sunset Boulevard for a very long time. What was the audition for that movie like?
I remember I was in a catsuit. Iâ€™d never auditioned before, and I almost brought a bottle of ketchup and squirted it all over myself for the scene where I got shot. I looked like a maniac. It was a dying scene, so I barged through the door and started crawling on the floor. I think they were too scared not to give me the role.
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