Charlize Theron

 Charlize Theron Interview

NEW YORK, Sep 06, 2001 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Charlize Theron is known as much for her impeccable style and radiant beauty as she is for her considerable acting talent, but the 26-year-old South African actress and former model insists she is equally at home in old jeans as she is in formal wear.

"When you go to enough events in a gown and you're on enough magazine covers, people like to start going, 'Oh, that's who she is. She can only be that. We should find a movie where she can wear an Armani gown' and that part of (the hiring process) is kind of hard," Theron told United Press International in perfect, unaccented American English.

"There's so much about (the character I play in 'Sweet November') physically that I so relate to -- the baggy jeans and the T-shirt. I thought, 'Oh, thank God,'" she said.

Despite her personal preference for casual clothes, the actress said she enjoys the costumes she wears in her films because they often help her get into character.

"'In 'The Legend of Bagger Vance,' it was the hats and gloves," she recalled. "They made me all of a sudden go: 'I am a lady of the south now. Bring me mint juleps!'"

Theron added that one of her pet peeves is when actresses who are supposed to be sick or sad or asleep on screen are photographed with perfect hair and makeup. She explained that this bothers her because it simply isn't realistic and makes it harder for audiences to lose themselves in the story.

"I get so frustrated when I go to a movie and see someone waking up with perfect lip liner and blush up to their forehead and their hair perfectly curled and going, 'I'm so tired.' 'No, you're not!' I want to tell them. 'That's not what you look like when you're tired!'" she exclaimed.

According to Theron, however, the way SHE looks hasn't always made it easy for her to get serious acting jobs, since some filmmakers still seem unable to picture her as anything but glamorous.

"I'm not always the obvious choice," she complained, adding that one role she did not have to "jump any fences" to get was that of the dying free spirit she played in "Sweet November," a romantic drama that was recently released on videocassette.

"I do find myself having to fight my way through (the hiring process). In this case, with (co-star) Keanu (Reeves) knowing me from 'The Devil's Advocate,' they didn't necessarily question (whether I could do it). That was kind of nice to have somebody go, 'We believe that you can bring something interesting to this role,'" she said.Hollywood's perception of Theron as femme fatale may be changing, however, as she is quickly becoming one of the hardest-working actresses in the business, peppering her resume with a variety of period and contemporary works and alternating between dramatic and comedic roles.

Best-known for her performances in the "The Cider House Rules" and "Celebrity," Theron appeared in four films in 2000 -- "Reindeer Games," "The Yards," "Men of Honor," and "The Legend of Bagger Vance -- and six films in 2001, three of which are expected to be released during the next few months -- "Waking Up in Reno" with Billy Bob Thornton and Patrick Swayze, "24 Hours," co-starring Courtney Love and Kevin Bacon and "Sweet Home Alabama," opposite Reese Witherspoon.

She can be seen now in the period comedy "The Curse of the Jade Scorpian," co-starring Woody Allen and Helen Hunt.Despite the fact she has worked with practically everyone from screen legends Al Pacino and John Frankenheimer to newcomer golden boys Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Theron claimed she does not suffer from "movie-staritis." In other words, she hasn't gotten too big for her britches.

"You have to surround yourself with people you trust," she instructed. "People who really know who you are and those are the people whose advice I trust. And when I get out of hand, boy, do they let me know, which is good because it is so easy to get caught up in the good stuff and I do find myself sometimes going: 'Why did we have to take that plane? Why can't we take that flight? Why did we have to stay here? And why couldn't I go there? 'You do sometimes, go, 'What's wrong with me? Why am I complaining?' You need to surround yourself with people you really do trust and people who really do love you who are willing to show you your flaws."

And if that doesn't work?

"A good beating helps every once in a while," she joked. "And my mom's really good at that and they can't lock her up because she's a foreigner."

Asked if it bothered her when interviewers and announcers butchered her name, the actress replied that it doesn't anymore, but "in the beginning, it was so frustrating to me because my name is not pronounced 'There-on.' I changed it to 'There-on' because I was told it was more American. So, that was what was frustrating! The fact that I changed it to make it easier, so that people could pronounce it and then people kept going 'There-own.' The way we pronounce it in South Africa is 'Thrown.'

"Theron, heron? Very American, but apparently not."

She went on to say that although her last name is not unusual in her homeland, her first name is.

"I never met another Charlize," she said. "But they did a statistic and every fourth baby girl born in South Africa now is being named Charlize. I am starting my own nation. I am starting my own Charlize population. Yes, watch out in a couple of years."



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