Charlize Theron was born on August 7, 1975 in Benoni, South Africa. She grew up on her parents’ farm in Benoni, near Johannesburg. Her mother, Gerda, was German and her father, Charles, was French. She was an only child.
Theron’s early life was scarred by trauma when at age 15, her mother shot and killed her father in self-defense as he was attacking them both while drunk. The police did not press charges against her mother.
Schooling and Early Career
After her father’s death, Theron went to boarding school and then began a modeling career at age 16. She moved to Milan, Italy at age 18 and then to New York at age 19 to pursue modeling further.
|Born in Benoni, South Africa
|Began modeling career at age 16
|Moved to Milan to model at age 18
|Moved to New York City to model at age 19
Though successful as a model, Theron realized that modeling would be a short-lived career and decided to pursue her true passion – acting.
Move to Los Angeles and First Acting Roles
At age 19, Charlize Theron made the move to Los Angeles in 1994 to begin auditioning for acting roles. Her first part was a non-speaking role in the film Children of the Corn III (1995).
Her first speaking role came in 1996 in the film 2 Days in the Valley, playing the girlfriend of an up-and-coming boxer. Over the next few years she landed parts in several other smaller films like The Devil’s Advocate, Mighty Joe Young, and The Astronaut’s Wife.
Breakthrough Role in Monster
Theron’s breakthrough role came when she played real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the film Monster (2003).
|Children of the Corn III
|First film role (non-speaking)
|2 Days in the Valley
|First speaking role
|The Devil’s Advocate
|Mary Ann Lomax
|Mighty Joe Young
|Breakthrough lead role; won Academy Award for Best Actress
Theron delivered a powerful, complex, and utterly transformed performance that earned her dozens of acting awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2004, among many other honors.
Continued Success in Hollywood
Following her acclaimed performance in Monster, Charlize Theron firmly established herself as a talented leading lady adept at playing a range of characters in both critically acclaimed films and major Hollywood blockbusters.
Over the years, some of Theron’s most noteworthy dramatic roles included playing real-life figures like Britt Ekland in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004), politician Gabrielle Giffords in The Assignment (2016), and broadcaster Megyn Kelly in Bombshell (2019), for which she received another Best Actress Oscar nomination.
Other acclaimed dramatic performances came in the hard-hitting independent dramas North Country (2005) and Tully (2018), both of which earned Theron Best Actress Golden Globe nominations.
In addition to her critically praised work, Theron also starred in several major Hollywood action movies. She played the evil Queen Ravenna in Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and its sequel The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016), as well as appearing as Imperator Furiosa in the post-apocalyptic hit Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).
Her performance as a steely, one-armed warrior in Mad Max in particular was widely praised as one of the standout elements of the film.
Philanthropy and Activism
In addition to her acting work, Charlize Theron is also known for her philanthropy and social activism. She started the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP) in 2007, which is dedicated to supporting African youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Support for Causes in Africa
Through CTAOP, Theron has supported many causes benefitting the health and wellbeing of African youth, including:
- Funding mobile health clinics
- Supporting community health workers
- Providing youth-friendly HIV treatment programs
In 2008, Theron was named a UN Messenger of Peace to raise awareness for the prevention of HIV and elimination of violence against women. She continues to be a leading voice in calling attention to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa and the challenges girls and young women face in her native South Africa and throughout the continent.
Charlize Theron lives a relatively private personal life. She adopted two children, Jackson (b. 2012) and August (b. 2015), and raised them as a single parent.
Theron had a long-term relationship with actor Sean Penn, and the two were briefly engaged from 2014-2015 before ending their relationship.
Since then, she has not re-married or been publicly linked to any other romantic partners. Her primary focus continues to be raising her children and managing her successful acting career.
What films earned Charlize Theron Oscar nominations?
Charlize Theron has received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actress:
- She won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2004 for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the film Monster.
- She received another Best Actress nomination in 2020 for playing former Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly in the film Bombshell.
How did Charlize Theron get started as an actress?
Charlize Theron began her career as a model at age 16 in South Africa. She moved to the United States at age 19 hoping to transition to acting. Her first acting role was a nonspeaking part in the horror film Children of the Corn III in 1995. Her first speaking role came a year later in the 1996 film 2 Days in the Valley, playing the girlfriend of a boxer.
Over the next several years she worked consistently in small supporting film roles before getting her big breakthrough playing the lead role of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in 2003’s Monster. Her acclaimed and transformed performance as Wuornos earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress and cemented her as a leading Hollywood talent.
What philanthropic work does Charlize Theron do in Africa?
In 2007, Charlize Theron started the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP), which aims to support African youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Through CTAOP, Theron funds mobile health clinics, supports community health workers, provides youth-friendly HIV treatment programs, and brings other aid to countries and communities in Africa.
In 2008, the UN named Theron a Messenger of Peace to raise global awareness around preventing HIV and eliminating violence against women. She continues to be a leading advocate calling attention to the severe HIV/AIDS crisis across Africa and the challenges girls and young women face in her native South Africa.
Is Charlize Theron currently married?
No, as of early 2024 Charlize Theron is not married. She had a long-term relationship with Sean Penn from late 2013 until mid-2015, including a brief engagement, but they split and never married.
Since then, Theron has not publicly dated anyone else seriously and remains single. She is focused on raising her two adopted children, Jackson and August (who she adopted as a single parent in 2012 and 2015 respectively), and managing her successful acting career.
What was Charlize Theron’s most critically acclaimed film performance?
Without a doubt, Charlize Theron’s most acclaimed film performance to date is her portrayal of real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in 2003’s Monster.
Theron delivered a powerful and almost unrecognizable performance as Wuornos, completely transforming herself physically and emotionally for the difficult role. She demonstrated her exceptional talent and range as a dramatic actress through her work in the film.
Critics heaped praise upon Theron for her courageous and complex work. She won and was nominated for nearly every major acting award that year, including winning the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress for her performance in Monster.
The film and accompanying awards propelled Theron from a promising up-and-comer firmly into the ranks of Hollywood’s most respected dramatic actresses. Nearly 15 years later, her performance in Monster remains a career-defining role that exemplified her abilities.
Charlize Theron is undoubtedly one of the most talented actresses working today, with an ability to seamlessly take on a vast range of compelling and complex characters across independent dramas and big-budget Hollywood spectacles alike.
From her chilling breakthrough performance as real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster to her more recent turns as steely one-armed warrior Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road and broadcaster Megyn Kelly in Bombshell, Theron has consistently demonstrated her exceptional acting range.
On top of her acclaimed acting career, Charlize Theron is also devoted to activism and philanthropy work, particularly in calling attention to the HIV/AIDS crisis affecting youth in Africa through her Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project. Her passion for human rights issues is matched only by her talent on the silver screen.
At just 49 years old as of 2024, it’s clear that Charlize Theron still has many more fascinating characters and powerful performances left to share with the world throughout her career. Without a doubt, her extraordinary skills as a performer coupled with her integrity and dedication as an activist solidify her place as an iconic Hollywood figure with even greater accomplishments still ahead.