Charlize Theron, born August 7,
1975) is a South African actress, film producer, and former fashion model.
She became an American citizen in 2007.
She rose to fame in the late 1990s following her roles in 2 Days in the
Valley, Mighty Joe Young, The Devil's Advocate, and The Cider House Rules.
She received critical acclaim and an Academy Award for her portrayal of
serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the film Monster, for which she became the
first African to win an Academy Award in a major acting category. She
received another Academy Award nomination for her performance in North
Theron was born in Benoni, South Africa, the only child of Gerda Jacoba
Aletta (née Maritz) and Charles Jacobus Theron. Her mother is of German
descent and her father was of French and Dutch ancestry; Theron is
directly descended from early Huguenot settlers, and Boer War figure
Daniel Theron was her great-grandfather's brother. "Theron" is an Occitan
surname (originally spelled Théron) pronounced in Afrikaans as "Tronn",
although she has said that she prefers the pronunciation "Thrown". Though
Theron's first language is Afrikaans, she is fluent in English and speaks
Theron grew up on her parents' farm near Johannesburg (Benoni). She
attended Putfontein Primary School (Laerskool Putfontein). At the age of
13, Theron was sent to boarding school and began her studies at the
National School Of The Arts in Johannesburg. At 15, Theron witnessed the
death of her father, an abusive alcoholic; her mother shot him in
self-defence when he attacked her. The police pressed no charges against
At the age of 16, Theron traveled to Milan, Italy, on a one-year modeling
contract, after winning a local competition. She went to New York with
Pauline's Model Management. She decided to remain after her contract
ended, attending the Joffrey Ballet School, where she trained as a ballet
dancer. A knee injury closed this career path when Theron was 19.
Unable to dance, Theron flew to Los Angeles on a one-way ticket her mother
bought her. During her early months there, she went to a bank to cash a
check her mother had sent her to help with the rent. When the teller
refused to cash it, Theron immediately started a shouting match with her.
Afterwards, a talent agent in line behind her handed her his business card
and subsequently introduced her to some casting agents and also an acting
school. She later fired him as her manager after he kept sending her
scripts for films similar to Showgirls and Species. After eight months in
the city, she was cast in her first film part, a non-speaking role in the
direct-to-video film Children of the Corn III (1995). Larger roles in
widely released Hollywood films followed, and her career skyrocketed in
the late 1990s with box office successes like The Devil's Advocate (1997),
Mighty Joe Young (1998), and The Cider House Rules (1999). She glossed the
cover of the January 1999 issue of Vanity Fair as the "White Hot Venus".
After appearing in a few notable films, Theron starred as the serial
killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster (2003). Film critic Roger Ebert called it
"one of the greatest performances in the history of the cinema". For this
role, Theron won the Academy Award for Best Actress at the 76th Academy
Awards in February 2004, as well as the SAG Award and the Golden Globe
Award. She is the first African to win an Oscar for Best Actress. The
Oscar win pushed her to The Hollywood Reporter's 2006 list of highest-paid
actresses in Hollywood; earning $10,000,000 for both her subsequent films,
North Country and Ĉon Flux, she ranked seventh, behind Halle Berry,
Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Renée Zellweger, Reese Witherspoon, and
On September 30, 2005, Theron received her own star on the Hollywood Walk
of Fame. In the same year, she starred in the financially unsuccessful
science fiction thriller Ĉon Flux. Additionally, Theron received Best
Actress Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for her lead
performance in the drama North Country. Ms. magazine also honored her for
this performance with a feature article in its Fall 2005 issue.
In 2005, Theron portrayed Rita, Michael Bluth's (Jason Bateman) love
interest, on the third season of Fox's critically-acclaimed television
series Arrested Development. She also received Golden Globe and Emmy
nominations for her role of Britt Ekland in the 2004 HBO movie The Life
and Death of Peter Sellers.
In 2007, Esquire named her the Sexiest Woman Alive.
In 2008, Theron was named the Hasty Pudding Theatricals Woman of the Year.
That year she also starred with Will Smith in Hancock, a movie that
grossed $227.9M in the U.S.A. and $396.4M internationally, and in late
2008 she was asked to be a UN Messenger of Peace by the UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-Moon.
On November 10, 2008, TV Guide reported that Theron will star in the film
adaptation of The Danish Girl alongside Nicole Kidman. Theron will play
Gerda Wegener, wife of Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe (Kidman), the world's first
known person to undergo sex reassignment surgery. In October 2009, Theron
was cast to star in a sequel to the Mad Max films, titled Mad Max: Road
Fury, which will commence filming at Broken Hill in New South Wales
Australia in late 2010.
On December 4, 2009, Theron co-presented the draw for the 2010 FIFA World
Cup in Cape Town, South Africa, accompanied by several other celebrities
of South African origin. During rehearsals she drew an Ireland ball
instead of France as a joke at the expense of FIFA, referring to Thierry
Henry's handball controversy in the play off match between France and
Ireland. The stunt alarmed FIFA enough for it to fear she might do it
again in front of a live global audience.
Theron resides in Los Angeles with her boyfriend Stuart Townsend, with
whom she starred in the 2004 film Head in the Clouds, as well as in the
2002 film Trapped and 2005 Ĉon Flux. She has said that she will not marry
until same-sex couples are able to have their marriages recognized.
Townsend recently stated he considers himself and Theron to be husband and
wife. "We didn't have a ceremony," he said. "I don't need a certificate or
the state or the church to say otherwise. So no there's no big official
story on a wedding, but we are married... I consider her my wife and she
considers me her husband".
Theron became a naturalized citizen of the United States in May 2007.
Theron signed with William Morris Endeavour in 2009 and is represented by
CEO Ari Emanuel.