She grew up dur­ing apartheid in South Africa and fought her way to Hol­ly­wood great­ness. Now Char­l­ize Theron squares off with her big­gest chal­lenge yet: par­ent­hood, both on­screen and off. Chelsea Han­dler gets her to go deep.

ELLE (Canada) - - Storyboard - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY MARIO SOR­RENTI

Char­l­ize Theron opens up to IRL BFF Chelsea Han­dler.

MOTH­ER­HOOD, AND ITS IM­PACT ON iden­tity, is weigh­ing on Char­l­ize Theron’s mind. She re­cently fin­ished pro­mo­tion for the film Tully, her sec­ond col­lab with Young Adult di­rec­tor Ja­son Reit­man and screen­writer Di­ablo Cody. Theron plays Marlo, an over­whelmed and over-it mother of three who plunges to stag­ger­ing depths of ex­haus­tion be­fore find­ing re­lief in the form of the tit­u­lar night nurse, Tully, who is per­haps too good to be true.

The ac­tress, who adopted her two chil­dren— Jack­son (Jacks), six, and Au­gust (Aug­gie), two— gained 35 pounds for the part, and not since her Os­car-win­ning turn as Aileen Wuornos in Mon­ster has the 43-year-old been more un­rec­og­niz­able. Up next is dark com­edy Flarsky, with Seth Ro­gen, which she’s film­ing in Mon­treal, and, in the fu­ture, a role play­ing Fox News an­chor Megyn Kelly, to be directed by Jay Roach.

In a phone in­ter­view with her good friend Chelsea Han­dler, who has fa­mously cho­sen “oth­er­hood”—a.k.a. not hav­ing chil­dren—Theron un­loads every­thing that’s weigh­ing her down.

CHELSEA HAN­DLER “Let’s start with Tully. You gained a lot of weight for this film. Which you did for Mon­ster, but you’re ob­vi­ously older now, and this time was dif­fer­ent. It was an emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence.” CHAR­L­IZE THERON “Yeah. I filmed Mon­ster when I was 27, and I just stopped snack­ing for three weeks and was back to my nor­mal weight. This time it re­ally hit me hard. I was con­stantly fuck­ing eat­ing. And I love carbs. But I sort of plateaued on carbs. So I started eat­ing and drink­ing a lot of sugar. It re­ally messed with my head. I had de­pres­sion for the first time in my life shoot­ing this film. I felt like I was in a dark cloud. Get­ting back to nor­mal took a long time.” CH “I love what you and Di­ablo do to­gether. Young Adult and Tully are so unglam­orous, which strikes a chord be­cause you’re a supermodel and blah blah blah—we don’t want to talk about how pretty you are, that’s bor­ing, but it’s nice to see a woman be so real.” CT “If you look at my ca­reer, I have done more work in re­al­ism than the glam­our stuff. It’s what I wanted to build my ca­reer on and why I fought so hard to not just play the in­genue or the girl­friend. It’s strange to me that peo­ple still go ‘Oh, this is such a nice sur­prise!’ I’m like, ‘No, it’s not a sur­prise any­more!’ For 25 years, I’ve been con­sis­tently try­ing to ex­plore real peo­ple. Ev­ery once in a while, I do some­thing crazy, like Atomic Blonde, but that’s rarer for me now.” CH “Tully is about moth­er­hood. What have you learned about your­self as a par­ent?” h

CT “Per­spec­tive. I just see things clearer. When I was in my 20s, a child was the scari­est idea I could think of. When I got to my 30s, I was so ready. But there’s a mo­ment where you’re like ‘Oh, God, I hope once I have my kids, I’m still go­ing to want to be a par­ent this much.’ I have bad days. I make mis­takes. Go­ing through the tantrum stages when they’re such lit­tle ass­holes. And they choose the worst mo­ments. It’s a lot for one per­son. But af­ter six years of hav­ing my two nuggets, there’s not a day when I wish I hadn’t done this.” CH “And you co-par­ent with your mom, Gerda.” CT “I knew that I would have to have my mom help me if I was go­ing to do this as a sin­gle par­ent. To not ac­knowl­edge her in co-par­ent­ing my chil­dren would be a lie. She jok­ingly said, ‘Be­ing a grand­par­ent is what I was born to do.’ I was like, ‘Yo, bitch! What about me? Was it not to raise me? I’m your kid!’ But I’m so lucky to have that. I would feel pretty alone if I didn’t have a part­ner in crime in all of this.” CH “How would you de­scribe your 20s ver­sus 30s ver­sus 40s?” CT “My 20s were every­thing I wanted them to be. I had a part­ner. He was an ad­ven­turer, and I was an ad­ven­turer. We would pack back­packs, go to a coun­try for five weeks, climb moun­tains, stay in peo­ple’s homes. I par­tied. I did it all. We didn’t have a care in the world. Then, when I ended that re­la­tion­ship, I had a strong need to be a mom. It was all-con­sum­ing. I didn’t need to travel or go out con­stantly or drink any­more. But I strug­gled men­tally through the adop­tion process. Some of the low­est points in my life were deal­ing with the first time I filed; it re­ally took an emo­tional toll. There were many sit­u­a­tions that didn’t work out, and you’d get at­tached and have all your hopes up and then just get crushed. So I was in a dif­fer­ent mind space. I had dif­fer­ent needs. I have never loved an age more than my 40s. Forty to me feels like Goldilocks—like I’ve fi­nally found the per­fect-size bed, the per­fect-size mug.” CH “I’ve seen Di­ablo raise her three kids. If I’ve learned any­thing, it’s that only you know what’s right for you and your chil­dren. Peo­ple have their own style of par­ent­ing.” CT “I’ve had a lot of moms come up to me and tell me I’m screw­ing every­thing up. Both my kids grew up on for­mula, and I re­mem­ber a mom say­ing to me ‘You should re­ally buy breast milk.’ And I was like, ‘What?!’ That’s a line you just don’t cross. My old­est just started big school. She’s not even there a full year. So I’ve not got­ten into the whole [judgy moms at] school thing yet. The good thing about me is I’ve never given a shit about what peo­ple think. That’s the only qual­ity I have that has prob­a­bly helped me in be­ing a mother.” CH “You’re rais­ing two chil­dren of colour. Ob­vi­ously, com­ing from South Africa, you know a lot about racial in­equal­ity, but what are your thoughts on Black Lives Mat­ter and our cur­rent cli­mate?” CT “Be­ing raised dur­ing the apartheid era in South Africa made me so hy­per­aware of equal­ity and hu­man rights. Of course, I have two black kids, but that was al­ways some­thing I was pas­sion­ate about. I don’t even know how to talk about the past year un­der our new ad­min­is­tra­tion. But ra­cism is much more alive and well than peo­ple think. We can’t deny it any­more. We have to be vo­cal. There are places in this coun­try where, if I got a job, I wouldn’t take it. I wouldn’t travel with my kids to some parts of Amer­ica, and that’s re­ally prob­lem­atic. There are a lot of times when I look at my kids and I’m like, ‘If this con­tin­ues, I might have to [leave Amer­ica].’ Be­cause the last thing I want is for my chil­dren to feel un­safe.” CH “It’s a tough con­ver­sa­tion to have.” CT “We’re not there yet, but, trust me, we talk. I want them to know who they are, and I want them to be so fuck­ing proud of who they are. Build­ing con­fi­dence for them right now is an oath I made to my­self when I brought them home. They’re go­ing to have to know that it’s a dif­fer­ent cli­mate for them than it is for me and how un­fair that is. If I can do some­thing about that, of course I’m go­ing to.” CH “Let’s talk about Hol­ly­wood. You work with a ton of women. But how do you see your role in terms of get­ting more op­por­tu­ni­ties for women?” CT “That our world is be­ing run by men is some­thing that we have to change. As a pro­ducer, I look at not just di­rec­tors but my crews, the writ­ers, ed­i­tors, com­posers across the board. I take that re­spon­si­bil­ity very se­ri­ously. I was just on a film where there wasn’t one woman in the sound de­part­ment and I was like, ‘No! We have to hire smarter.’ In say­ing that, I don’t want to ever sound like I’m do­ing women a favour. I’m not car­ry­ing some mis­sion on my sleeve. But there are women out there who are fuck­ing crazy tal­ented. And I’m hir­ing them be­cause they are the best at their job!” n

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