MOTHER LODE A BUR­DEN

Tully, one of two up­com­ing films from Char­l­ize Theron, sees the star take on the de­mand­ing role of a mum stretched to her break­ing point

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY - MICHELE MANELIS

Char­l­ize Theron’s de­fault mode in re­cent times has been badass – from Mad Max: Fury Road to Atomic Blonde and the cold­hearted, dirty-mouthed cor­po­rate ma­nip­u­la­tor she plays in the up­com­ing black com­edy Gringo.

But the 42-year-old switches gear for a mo­ment in Tully, play­ing Marlo, a mother of three over­whelmed by her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and wiped out by post-par­tum de­pres­sion.

Theron, her­self, be­came a mother six years ago when she adopted her son, Jack­son.

Daugh­ter Au­gust, now three, fol­lowed in 2015.

Find­ing the req­ui­site level of tired­ness to play Marlo wasn’t an is­sue.

“Be­lieve me, I was liv­ing that ex­haus­tion,” says Theron.

“I’d go home from set and live it ev­ery day. It was hard for me but, of course, my cir­cum­stances are dif­fer­ent from Marlo’s, as it is dif­fer­ent for ev­ery mother.

“But I can tell you that play­ing this role didn’t feel for­eign to me.”

For the sake of au­then­tic­ity, Theron es­chewed the tra­di­tional “fat suit”, gain­ing more than 20kg.

It worked for the role, but it didn’t leave the star feel­ing great about her­self.

“I was not in a happy state be­cause of the diet I was on, which was re­ally not healthy, but it put me in a men­tal state pretty much like Marlo,” she says.

“It would be im­pos­si­ble to make a movie like this and not have em­pa­thy for women in this po­si­tion. Although I’ve had em­pa­thy for friends who have suf­fered post-par­tum de­pres­sion, af­ter this movie I was like, ‘God, my heart goes out’. It’s just not un­der­stood enough and it’s a re­ally tough thing to go through.”

Change sweeps through Marlo’s life when a night nanny, Tully (played by Blade Run­ner 2049’ s Macken­zie Davis), ar­rives to lend a hand.

Not only does Tully help Marlo fi­nally get some sleep, she soon has the house in or­der and her friend­ship reignites a bit of Marlo’s old spark.

The film re­unites the team be­hind 2011’s Young Adult – Theron, di­rec­tor Ja­son Reit­man and writer Di­ablo Cody. Tully is with­out doubt com­pletely gritty and raw in con­fronting par­ent­hood.

“If I didn’t have Ja­son and the peo­ple that I love to work with, Tully would have been a re­ally bad ex­pe­ri­ence for me,” says Theron, who was also a pro­ducer on the film.

Reit­man re­turns the com­pli­ment. “As a pro­ducer and as an ac­tor, Char­l­ize brings a fear­less­ness to ev­ery­thing she does. Her de­sire to be au­then­tic in ev­ery scene was the only way to make this movie,” he says.

As with Pat­ton Oswalt in Young Adult, Reit­man again chose a comic ac­tor for Theron to bounce off – in this case, Ron Liv­ingston as Marlo’s hus­band, who is largely ab­sent from parental obli­ga­tions due to his work com­mit­ments.

“I was so im­pressed with Ron,” Theron says.

“Fun­nily enough, I know Ron be­cause our kids go to the same school. So I’d see them dropped off and go, ‘Hey, movie hus­band!’.”

In Gringo, she’s paired with Aussie Joel Edger­ton, the two play­ing the heads of a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany.

Mixed up in some shady busi­ness south of the US bor­der, when things go wrong, these mer­ci­less bosses feed a clue­less un­der­ling – played by David Oyelowo – to the wolves.

Gringo is di­rected by Joel’s brother Nash Edger­ton, who had been friends with Theron since she saw his ac­claimed 2007 short film, Spi­der, and sought him out. The two had been search­ing for a project to tackle to­gether – she has a pro­duc­ing credit on Gringo – and the older Edger­ton de­lighted in mak­ing her say lines of di­a­logue as cor­po­rate night­mare Elaine that would make a sailor blush ... and some­times Theron, too.

“Things came out of (Elaine’s) mouth that I never imag­ined would come out of my mouth,” Theron says with a laugh.

Edger­ton thinks his star is sell­ing her­self short on her sweari­ness and sense of hu­mour. “It was fun to get her to play that,” he says. “But I don’t think I taught her to swear or any­thing – I think she knew how to do that al­ready.” Tully opens in ma­jor cin­e­mas to­day, Gringo opens May 31

Char­l­ize Theron plays a mother of three over­whelmed by her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and wiped out by post-par­tum de­pres­sion in Tully.

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