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We can’t wait for the release of Aussie blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road later this year. We chat to Saffa star Charlize Theron.

Thank goodness Australian director George Miller doesn’t believe in signs.

After facing 25 years of delays due to a lack of funding, security concerns, war, terror attacks, an ageing actor, and floods, Mad Max is finally back. The fourth installment, Fury Road, is due for release on May 15.  It’s been 36 years since the first Mad Max film was released, and 30 since the third installment of the trilogy. The idea for a fourth film was reportedly mooted 25 years ago, and the first script written in 2003. Even after Charlize Theron read the script and signed up, it took another three years until they started shooting.

“I’m fucking dying [to do it]. It’s time to skin this cat already. I’m very excited about it,” she told media just before she flew out to Namibia to shoot it back in 2011.  Theron joins British actor Tom Hardy on screen, who has replaced the now past-it Mel Gibson as Max. Set in a dystopian future Australia, crazed motorcycle gangs cause chaos fighting for rare resources, while Max and Theron’s character, Imperator Furiosa, battle with them as they try to cross the desert.  The aforementioned floods are what caused the film to be shot in Namibia, and not the original location choice in New South Wales, as the torrential rain had caused wild flowers to spring up everywhere – which is lovely, unless you’re about to shoot a million-dollar film that’s supposed to be set in a desolate wasteland with a life-threatening scarcity of water.  Clearly unafraid of not looking her best on the big screen (hello Oscar-winning role as Aileen Wuornos in Monster), Theron shaved her head to play the part of Furiosa, and for most of the film looks like she’s been at war with a mascara wand, with black smears across her eyes and forehead.

 The rest of the time, though, she is clearly a stunner, and doesn’t look anywhere near 40, despite the fact she’s hitting this big milestone in August this year. Indeed, she even recently got mistaken for boyfriend Sean Penn’s mistress when she checked into hotel with him, as onlookers told press she was a ‘mystery woman in her 20s’.  She tells us there’s no big secret to her great skin – “just sunblock, water and moisturiser” – and when asked about her goddess-like appearance in her Dior ads, she insists it has little to do with her: “I have this incredible team that travels with me and does this stuff. I just look at [the finished adverts] and go, ‘I am so lucky to have that hair person and that make-up person.’ It’s 16-hour days, and you’re tired, and you’ve got too much eyeliner in your eye, but all of those things are princess problems. I just have to watch out forthe croissant basket,” she laughs. “That’s my biggest thing: that’s when I feel like a goddess as I’m like, ‘Are all of these croissants for me?’.”  

This modest answer cements the down-to-earth character Theron is famed for. She is also known for her sense of humour, although this hasn’t often translated onto screen. Would she like that to change? “I am in no position to complain. I work a lot and I work on things that I really want to work on. I am a very, very blessed human being in general.  So for me to complain about anything is silly. I don’t do a lot of comedy; I get a lot of stuff offered to me, but it’s not necessarily stuff that I feel is funny.”   We’re not complaining either, as damn is she good at the kick-arse stuff. Thankfully, adopting a child in March 2012 – Jackson, aged two – hasn’t turned her off the dark side of film either. “I have heard people say that once they have children they don’t want to work on dark material, but that hasn’t happened for me. If anything, having a child has just made me want to be more creative and ask bigger questions and have more interests in things that might be uncomfortable. I think we all have different responses, but for me it’s definitely been like that. I didn’t look at my slate and go, ‘No, I can’t do that movie now that I have a kid.’ He just gives me energy to want to do more and explore more.”

Adopting a child is something Theron no doubt decided to do as a result of her own troubling childhood: born on a farm in Benoni, near Johannesburg, her alcoholic father physically attacked her mother andthreatened both her and her mum while drunk. Theron’s mother then shot and killed him in self-defense – she faced no charges. “I have a closeness to my mum,” says Theron, sincerely. “We are friends, but she’s my mother first and foremost and that’s how I was raised. She just happens to be a person that I actually really like, and who I think is funny and all of that stuff. But she’s the first person to put me in line, the way a parent does. I have had moments with mum where she’s like, ‘That movie is a piece of shit!’ (laughs.) But I would rather her be incredibly honest because then when she says, ‘That movie is really good’, I really believe it.”  Shit or not, we can’t imagine that during the tough times either Theron or her mother dreamed they would be discussing her latest Hollywood movie. “That’s why I canprobably sit here and say that I am incredibly blessed in my life,” says Theron.

With her acting aspirations only really beginning when she moved to Los Angeles at 19 after she worked as a model for a year and failed as a dancer in New York, did she ever imagine she would become an Oscar-winning movie star?  “I don’t think anybody can dream that big. It would be very grandiose to sit around and kind of expect those things to come to you. I have never not heard of an actor who justwanted to be able to pay the bills and not have to be a waitress or waiter on the side.”  Her humble start in life likely contributed to her philanthropic side too. “Coming from a country like South Africa, it’s impossible to forget how incredibly blessed my life has turned out and how that is not the case for many people in my country,” she says.  In 2007 she founded the Charlize Theron Outreach Africaproject, which focuses on prevention care of HIV and AIDS.  “We give the youth of South Africa some kind of future to look up to. Not only taking ownership of their health and making choices to save their own lives, but to actually give them something to live for. That has become a huge part of my life.”
Beautiful, strong and determined, it seems not only can Mad Max not be stopped, but neither can Charlize Theron.


Charlize Theron Interview - Mad Max : Fury Road
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