'Margaret Thatcher meets Kate Moss'
Charlize Theron on movies, manliness and motherhood
She won the Oscar in 2003 for her portrayal of Aileen Wuornos in Monster, shaving her eyebrows and wearing false teeth to mask her natural beauty. Almost a decade later, and Charlize Theron has again endured hours upon hours of make-up to make it seem as if her robust beauty were in decline.
The 36-year-old is captivating as Ravenna, the Evil Queen, in Snow White and the Huntsmen, the epic, imaginative re-telling of the fairy tale.
Undeniably beautiful, statuesque (‘I am basically a man in high heels’) and quick-witted, it is hard not to warm to Charlize. She has been described by Snow White’s director as ‘Margaret Thatcher meets Kate Moss’ – a depiction which, she laughs ,’I will be referred to as forever.’ But it is easy to see director Rupert Sanders’ point. A true actor as well as a pretty face, she clearly takes her profession seriously.
‘Whenever I’m thinking about taking a part, the initial meetings for me are to try and understand what kind of film my director wants to make, and see if I can service that.’
The part of the Evil Queen is more nuanced than an audience would expect. She is of course the requisite tyrannical horror, but she is also a vulnerable, miserable woman and at times, even a frightened girl. It is Charlize’s talent which allows her to bring an element of humanity to the role.
‘I need some sort of reality as an anchor,’ she explains. In Ravenna’s case, a traumatic childhood leads to her relying on her beauty to keep her safe. It is fairy tale fare, of course, but not too far removed from today’s cultural mentality. ‘If you have that place of real, as I call it, then you can push beyond the envelope a little bit.’
And although the film is far removed from the 1937 Disney classic, the audience have firm expectations of the famous character. ‘You can go big and loud with this character, but it’s always a fine line between amazing and horrible.’
It is safe to say that Charlize falls on the amazing end of the scale. And yet the actress, ever humble, again credits the finesse of her director. ‘With these showy figures, every scene can go a different way. Rupert did a great job as he went into the editing room and really found the pace of the character. ‘I always think that’s the sign of a great director, actually - when they can step back and make an incredible film without getting attached to the tiny little moments.’
Following the filming of Snow White and the Huntsmen, Charlize embarked upon a very different sort of role – that of mother. Earlier this year it was announced that she her adopted her first child, a son named Jackson. ‘The crazy thing that I didn’t expect was that motherhood has made me feel really creative,’ she reveals.
The actress spent a good couple of months at home ‘moping around in my pyjamas and role with him on the carpet,’ and found the experience incredibly inspiring. ‘I’m about to make a re-imagining of Mad Max and I’m really excited about it. What’s wonderful it that this little innocent baby is making me even more curious about the human condition.’
With her passion, talent and inherent ability for understanding what makes people tick, it is almost trite to mention her famed beauty.
Let’s just say, then, that there are undoubtedly many more beautiful performances to come.
Daily tip from the lady archive
"BE careful with your mouth make-up. By careless work you may obliterate well-cut lines, and you will always achieve a badly groomed look if your lipstick is smudged and badly applied."The Lady, Make-Up for Mouths, 8th January, 1942