Charlize Theron is an amazing actress, and she has the Oscar to prove it. In 2004, Theron won the Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the movie Monster, a role she almost didn’t take.
The script had been passed on to Theron by her agent, and she absolutely loved it. She was excited about the movie, but Theron has said that she was unsure about taking the role when it was offered to her.
She was a relatively new actress at the time, having only done a few movies. Theron was worried that the role would be too much for her, that she wouldn’t be able to handle it.
Learning To Believe In Herself
Obviously, she got over her fears, which were clearly unfounded since she ended up snagging the most prestigious award in the acting world for the role. So what changed her mind? Or rather, who?
Theron has said that director Patty Jenkins is the only reason she changed her mind. Apparently, Jenkins was convinced that Theron was the perfect fit for the role. In fact, she told Theron, “You have to. You’re the only person who can.”
When she talks about Jenkins’ faith in her talent, Theron says she still gets “emotional.” She’s shared in multiple interviews that she feels lucky that someone believed in her as much as Jenkins did. Theron also said that she doesn’t think a lot of women get to have the experience of someone believing in them that much, so she’s honored that she had that experience.
In fact, Theron has shared that she frequently had the experience of having people not believe in her before her role in Monster. She described being very demoralized by her experiences auditioning in Hollywood.
Theron said that she’s the kind of actor who puts everything out there for an audition, which makes her very vulnerable. And time after time, she’s been rejected.
So, having Jenkins believe in her so much that she didn’t want to give the role to anyone else was a new and uplifting experience for Theron.
Transforming Into A Monster
Theron’s fear that she wouldn’t be able to handle portraying a serial killer, especially one as complicated as Aileen Wuornos, is completely understandable. Transforming into a dark and tragic character is difficult for the best actors.
And it’s made even more difficult when those characters aren’t just characters, but real people. Theron wanted to make sure that her portrayal wasn’t just some Hollywood interpretation of Wuornos. She wanted it to be authentic.
That quest for authenticity is what made her performance so stunning, but it’s also what made the role one of the most difficult she’s ever done.
In an interview with The Advocate, Theron described the grueling physical and mental process of becoming Aileen. She gained about thirty pounds for the role. She had to relearn how to speak with the false teeth she wore to mimic Aileen’s teeth.
And even more challenging – she had to put herself into Aileen’s mindset. To do this, she spent a lot of time talking to people who actually knew Wuornos.
A few scenes in the movie were shot in a bar that Wuornos used to frequent, and many of the regulars there knew her well. They helped Theron get the insight she needed into who Wuornos really was – that authenticity Theron was striving to bring to the role.
And once she understood Wuornos, Theron transformed so completely that people on set interacted with her as if she was Aileen, not Charlize.
As you can imagine, it was a very difficult role to master, and a very difficult transformation process. But judging by that little golden statuette she was awarded, she pulled it off beautifully.
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