All by myself
The not- so- subtle scent of desperation is one you would certainly not expect Charlize Theron to be wearing, writes Lisa Marks
CHARLIZE Theron is quite unlike any other actress you’ll ever meet.
She ticks all the required moviestar boxes – beautiful, talented and confident – but she’s something else that you don’t often find in an A- lister. She’s real.
She curses, makes selfdeprecating comments and doesn’t seem to care about what you think of her or, remarkably, what she’s wearing.
Relaxing in a cosy suite at the Ritz Carlton on a chilly evening in New York, she laughs when I ask her about her outfit.
‘‘ I don’t know what I’m wearing. Honestly, I just threw it on.’’ she says, adding helpfully. ‘‘ Black jeans and a black shirt?’’
In a world where everything and everyone is branded, it’s unusual for an actress to not carefully co- ordinate a designer label outfit before meeting the press. But she’s the same with make- up, preferring to do her own on movie sets.
‘‘ You can sit there for two hours and look exactly the same at the end,’’ she says. ‘‘ It’s a waste of time.’’
Her feisty attitude makes her a perfect fit for her role as Mavis Gary in Jason Reitman’s new movie, Young Adult, his first since Up In The Air in 2009.
Mavis, a recently divorced young- adult fiction writer, heads back to her small home town to rekindle a romance with her high school sweetheart, despite the fact he’s married with children.
But she spends most of her time with the nerdy guy from school, played brilliantly by Patton Oswalt, best known as the long- suffering Neil in TV’S United States of Tara.
The script is by Diablo Cody, who won an Oscar for Juno, and is uncompromisingly funny while exploring the darker side of human nature.
‘‘ I’d like to hang out with Mavis, but I wouldn’t want my boyfriend to hang out with her,’’ Theron says. ‘‘ You find new ways to cringe watching this movie.’’
Even though Theron ( pictured) found her raw performance hard to watch, she’s grown protective of the bullying and inappropriate Mavis.
‘‘ I was highly embarrassed when I first watched it. The first time I saw it, I was in my house with my producing partner. We sat at either end of the sofa and afterwards I couldn’t speak. Jason called me and I was speechless, because the movie I was told we were going to make was the movie we had made and that rarely happens. But Mavis herself is harder to watch than to play.’’
South- African born Theron, however, is quick to point out that Mavis’s single status is the reason for her bad behaviour.
‘‘ She’s in a spinster panic. She’s dealing with a lot of issues that women in their late 30s are dealing with,’’ she says.
‘‘ But she’s dealing with them with the toolset of a 16- year- old. This is not the romantic Peter Pan story, it’s a cautionary tale saying that if you don’t deal with things in a certain way, they will come back and bite you in the arse.’’
Like Mavis, Theron, now 37, is famously single after breaking up two years ago with her actor boyfriend of 10 years, Stuart Townsend.
‘‘ I’m single and I’m enjoying it,’’ she says, when I tentatively bring up her relationship status.
‘‘ I’m very comfortable in a relationship because I’m such a monogamous beast.
‘‘ It’s true, I feel in my zone in a relationship. But now it’s good to be in my zone and not in a relationship. I think this is how my path is supposed to unfold.’’
Does she ever tire of having to explain herself or her personal life?
‘‘ To be honest, if I never had to do another interview I’d be very happy,’’ she says.
‘‘ There are some things I don’t want to talk about and there are things I am fine to talk about. But I don’t feel like I have to defend anything.’’
Her films have grossed more than $ 800 million worldwide. But since her best actress Oscar win for Monster in 2003, where she played serial killer Aileen Wournos, she’s made some lessthan- obvious film choices, starring in Aeon Flux, The Valley of
Elah and Hancock. Does she ever feel the pressure of carrying a movie such as Young
Adult, which features her in almost every frame?
‘‘ I can’t think about it that way because I wouldn’t get out of bed,’’ she laughs, before adding modestly.
‘‘ My career has been really nice in the sense that I haven’t been in massive movies, so I’ve never had that pressure on me. Financiers know what they’re going to get with me, so when they agree to back a movie it’s a relief in that sense. I’m not in movies that make gazillions. I’m not Will Smith.’’
That’s probably just as well, because he would have difficulty acting a scene that required him to be almost naked with two chicken fillets ( designed to help enhance a woman’s bust) stuck to his chest.
That’s what Theron does in one of Young Adult ’ s funniest scenes. This unorthodox seduction brilliantly showcases Theron’s comedic and dramatic range but also reveals one of the beauty tricks that women employ to lure a man. How does she feel about giving away secrets of the sisterhood?
‘‘ I feel like that magician who went on television a few years ago and told everyone how magic worked,’’ she says.
‘‘ It’s smoke and mirrors. I was in a 10- year relationship and when you’re in a relationship that long, they know everything about you.
‘‘ I remember one day my ex walked up to me as I was laying in bed after the Golden Globes.
‘‘ I hadn’t washed my face and my mascara was down to here, half of my hairpiece was still on my head and the other half was on the bedside table.
‘‘ My chicken cutlets were there and the $ 2 million worth of diamonds I’d been wearing were next to that.
‘‘ He brought me coffee and said ‘ God if only they knew!’ and I really laughed because I thought, ‘ Yeah, you’re right. It’s all a facade’.’’