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In 2004, Charlize Theron became the envy of every woman in Hollywood when she won the
Oscar for Best Actress for her turn as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster.
The statuesque blonde from South Africa directly addressed her mother Gerda during her acceptance
"You've sacrificed so much for me to be able to live here and make my dreams come true,
and there are no words to describe how much I love you.”
But was Theron's speech just a case of Tinsel Town drama?
Or is fact even crueller than fiction?
Let's take a look at Charlize Theron's tragic real life story — and how she rose above
it all.
Difficult childhood
You'd think someone who looks as beautiful as Theron could skate through life.
But for the first decade of her existence, things were quite the opposite.
The A-lister revealed, "My early childhood was quite devastating.
I had no teeth until I was 11.
I had these fangs because I had jaundice when I was a kid and I was put on so many antibiotics
that my teeth rotted.
They had to cut them out."
But her struggles in childhood didn't end with her health.
She remembered her dad, Charles Jacobus Theron, while speaking to ABC News, saying, "He was
a verbal abuser…He also had a disease.
He was an alcoholic."
In June 1991, after a night of heavy drinking, Charles and his brother set off for the Theron
When her aunt called ahead to warn that her father was particularly agitated that evening,
Theron said, "I knew something bad was going to happen."
According to her mother's later testimony, her father shot the locked gate to their home,
and began banging on her 15 year old daughter's bedroom door, shouting that he was going "kill
them both with a shotgun."
Charles allegedly fired a shot through his daughter's door, and Gerda pulled her own
gun — shooting him dead.
Theron recalled, "I think, for me, it took a long time to sink in, what had really happened...I
know that if my daughter was in the same situation, I would do the same thing."
Years later, in 2008, South African true crime writer Chris Karsten released a book called
Killer Women: Fatal South African Females.
One of the cases he focused on was that of Theron's mother, whom he suspected might not
have been entirely truthful about the events of that tragic evening in 1991.
His book is said to have infuriated Theron, particularly because it contains interviews
with family members who had previously vowed to keep quiet.
Theron's aunt Elsa Malan told Karsten, "We want to set the record straight.
He was a dedicated family man.
His wife and daughter were the most important things in his life...As for his so-called
alcoholism...I never saw him drunk."
Fleeing South Africa
In the end Gerda was found to be legally justified in her actions.
But while that was being decided, she told her daughter to go chase her dreams.
Theron said, "For her to say 'Go, go make something of your life' — that was an extremely
brave thing for her to do.
Those are the sacrifices, you know, that I think you do for your children...She always
put me first."
Dance, and devastation
Theron told The New York Times, "At 16, I won a modeling contest and moved to Milan.
Even though I was modeling, I always thought of myself as a dancer...I saw modeling like
waitressing — it was a way to pay for another career, and that career was dance."
But her dreams quickly came crashing down.
She said, "I spent a winter in New York in a friend's windowless basement apartment.
I was broke, I was taking class at the Joffrey Ballet, and my knees gave out.
I realized I couldn't dance anymore, and I went into a major depression."
And like before, her mother saved her life.
It was Gerda who told Charlize, "Stop wallowing.
Figure it out.
You like to tell stories, you like movies — try that."
Unlucky breaks
Theron moved to L.A., but the young starlet — whose first language is Afrikaans — struggled
to get an agent.
[Speaking Afrikaans]
But a chance encounter in a bank gave her the break she needed.
She told Indie London, "My mother had sent me a cheque to help pay my rent and I was
trying to cash it in a bank on Hollywood Boulevard.
A clerk refused and I just went nuts.
After the shouting was over, a man handed me his business card and told me to get in
[...] He turned out to be a genuine talent manager called John Crosby.
He introduced me to some casting agents."
She landed her first gig in 1995's Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest, and won her
first named part the following year, as James Spader's girlfriend Helga in 2 Days in the
She said, "I never thought that I would be particularly successful as an actress.
I just wanted to earn a living."
That was just the start, and she went on to have a hugely successful Hollywood career
— but it wasn't without its own share of troubles.
Injuries and health issues
Theron was nearly paralyzed when a stunt she performed for 2005's Aeon Flux went wrong,
leaving a disc close to her spinal cord damaged.
Doctors feared the injury would leave her with limited mobility in the future, though
she recovered fully.
She told Total Film, "What I learned is that back then I was like, 'I'll do it!
I'll do it!
I'll do it!' and now I know there's a time and a place.
You have to be smart about it and I've definitely come to a place in my career where I would
be the first to say, without feeling guilty or not badass enough, 'You know what?
I don't need to do this.'
That injury scared me — I was almost paralyzed."
She later did permanent damage to her voice box while filming the 2009 adaptation of Cormac
McCarthy's novel The Road, rupturing vocal cords during the birth scene.
Despite these setbacks and her troubles as a young woman, Theron seems to be forging
ahead in Hollywood, one role at a time.
"I chose this life, and someday, it's going to get me killed.
But not today.”
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Inside Charlize Theron's Tragic Real Life Story

39 Folder Collection
Caurora published on October 13, 2018
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