After a three-year break from acting, Charlize Theron returns to the silver screen today with the release of her latest film, Young Adult. (Thankfully, she didn't give up on the red carpet during this stretch... where would we be without those Dior Couture gowns?).
Theron plays teenage fiction writer, Mavis Gary, in Jason Reitman's black comedy in what's set to be one of her most daring roles yet (she's already got a few awards nominations under her belt), so here at MyDaily, we were very excited to get our hands on an exculsive interview with one of our favourite actresses. Take a look below to find out more about the film from the star herself.
Charlize Theron at the 2012 Golden Globes. Photo: PA
Why did this role appeal to you?
It was really different. When I originally read it I thought that it was ballsy in the sense that Diablo wrote a character, a protagonist who learns a lesson but doesn't necessarily make a change in her life. And it felt very real to me. It felt very human to me. Sometimes when I watch movies they can feel very unrealistic and the third act is always kind of like this 'a-ha!' moment for every character and I just don't know those people in real life. And it was really nice to read somebody on the page that felt human to me, a woman who doesn't go through this amazing 'a-ha!' moment. And of course the idea of Jason Reitman directing it was very appealing to me. I'm very director driven and to get the chance to work with him was really the thing that sealed the deal for me.
Did you have any qualms about it at all? She is a very uncomfortable character to watch and at times it makes you question some of the things that you have laughed at...
Yes, I know and those are the things that make it feel real. I think when you do comedy for the sake of the joke versus character driven comedy, I guess it's a personal thing, but for me I like those characters, I like the ones that have character base and the character is drawing the comedy from real situations or circumstances. And in this case, it's dark. The comedy is being pulled from some very, very dark, real places and it's unflinching. And yes, she definitely has issues and she definitely doesn't have the tool set to cope with adult things and she has kind of been in this arrested development that has not given her the insight to deal with or see things for what they really are.
Charlize Theron in Young Adult. Photo: Paramount
Do you have to find something in a character like this that you can relate to?
Well there was a lot that I could relate to. She is a real girl, she is doesn't feel like a movie person to me. So there was definitely a lot of her that I could relate to – that I've seen in other people, that I've seen in myself that didn't feel foreign to me. I don't know how to play 'movie people' or caricatures; I only know how to play characters that I feel I can ground in reality. I mean, if my feet are not grounded in something that's real I don't know how to play that. I don't think I would be good at that so the only thing I can rely on when I say 'yes' to a character is the knowledge that there is something in there that I can wrap my head around and make real, however kind of absurd she is and how big she is, or how outrageous and embarrassing and how cringing she is.
I have to say that I only succeeded in that because of my partnership with Jason Reitman on this film. I really couldn't have done it without him because I feel that this character has to be paced correctly and you really can't do that as an actor alone, you really need a director to guide you through that. So there were a lot of moments on set when Jason was going 'I think you need to be a little bit more bitchy here..' and you're going 'oh God, please no!' and then you just end up doing it because I had ultimate trust in him and he never gave me any opportunity to not trust him. I feel like the success of this film and this character is really because of him.
Why did you take a three-year break from acting? Was that intentional or just the way it turned out?
It was just kind of just the way it turned out. There wasn't anything coming my way that was blowing me away and also I started producing and developing a lot of television. So I was really busy and at the same time I was physically getting ready to go and do Fury Road so I was kind of off the market and belonging to Warner Brothers. And I was kind of sitting around waiting for the film to happen so I just started developing some stuff with HBO and David Fincher and with Ridley Scott's company and so creatively I was really happy and busy but I just didn't work as an actor.
How do you look back on your own high school days? Do you look back on that time with affection?
Yeah, I mean, I think I look back the same way that everybody does – with affection, embarrassment and cringe-worthy moments mingled with pure hatred (laughs). I think it's conflicted. And I think High School is a conflicting time for any teenager, right?
You never seem to choose easy roles. Why is that?
I think I'm not really looking for anything. I think people think you walk around with these grand ideas of characters and I don't. I watch a lot of films and I get inspired by filmmakers and writers and so I spend a lot of my time sitting down with writers that I like and directors that I like and that's where my process starts. So for me it's about finding people that I want to work with.
For a sneak preview of the film, take a look at the clip below. Young Adult is in cinemas nationwide from Friday 3rd February.