Charlize Theron Reveals The Horrific Way She Was Treated When Starting Out

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Charlize Theron recently revealed she dealt with horrible sexism and misogyny when she started out in Hollywood.

By Jennifer Asencio
| Published

Actress Charlize Theron is known for strong female roles, but her early experiences in Hollywood included episodes of sexism and misogyny, she revealed in an interview with Harper’s Bizarre. She clapped back at producers and directors who sexualize women with their clothing or changing the theme of a film to give it more sex appeal by relating her own early experiences as an actress. As she has built up her reputation, along with her production company, the Mad Max: Fury Road star has paved the way for a more equal Hollywood for women by providing actresses with the kind of environment she wishes she had when she first started in the industry.

She recounted an incident during which a director “just kept bringing me in, fitting after fitting after fitting after … And it was just so obvious that it was to do with my sexuality and how f–kable they could make me in the movie. And when I started out, that was just kind of the norm.”

This type of sexual treatment of women is something that has plagued her in a few of her projects. Her recollection of the set of the Oscar-winning Monster also had this issue, as producers on the project were looking less for a nuanced portrait of serial killer Aileen Wuornos and more for “a hot lesbian movie with me and Chrstina Ricci.” After making that movie–and guiding the project away from sexualization in favor of a more refined portrayal of the material–Charlize Theron formed Denver & Delilah, her own production company.

She has also starred in many roles portraying strong, powerful women rather than ones who are sexualized and subdued. One of her most popular roles is as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road; a mercenary gone rogue to save five pregnant girls from a despotic warlord. She also plays Andy, an immortal warrior from ancient Scythia, in the Netflix production The Old Guard.

Charlize Theron in The Old Guard (2020)

In fact, Charlize Theron has a long history of playing action-oriented female characters that could give Rambo or John McClane a run for their money while looking gorgeous. She also played the titular role in Aeon Flux, based on the cult cartoon. She has even dabbled in villainy as Cipher in The Fast and the Furious franchise.

The strength she depicts in these roles reflects an inner strength that coped with the sexism in her early career by fighting back in meaningful ways. She was a co-producer on The Old Guard, and the cast and crew was 85% female as a result of her guidance. Her relationship with director David Fincher, whose show Mindhunter she also co-produced, is a testament to her strength and credibility in Hollywood, as Fincher is known for his intensity.

The next projects Charlize Theron is working on carry on the legacy of strong feminine power that she is blazing in film. The School for Good and Evil is a blend of fairytale influences in a school at which Harry Potter would feel comfortable. The Old Guard 2 brings back Andy and the other immortal warriors.

“There’s a natural fight in me to want to create environments [on set] that feel like the things that I wish I had 30 years ago when I started,” she said, reflecting on an environment in her early career that she describes as “belittling.” In her work, and in her production credits, she has strived to change the perception of women in film as sexual objects, and show that they can be strong, powerful, and engaging.

She added, “I don’t always get it right, but I am very aware of looking at the big picture and saying, ‘Is this really the best we can do?’”