Star’s horror ‘freak accident’ on set
It's not easy being an action hero - especially as you get older.
Just ask glamour icon, Charlize Theron, 44, who excelled beyond expectations as the bald and beautiful badass Furiosa in the 2015 Oscar-winning film, Mad Max: Fury Road.
She followed it up with kick-ass roles in Atomic Blonde, and The Fate Of The Furious, both in 2017, and more recently, in the Netflix film, The Old Guard. Evidently, she has no intention of slowing down.
Mad Max might have kickstarted her action heroine rebirth, but it came at a cost: The shoot was plagued by delays, tension and infighting.
Looking back on her Mad Max experience on that tension-fuelled set in the Namibian desert, she says now: "I think all of us have been honest about it. It was definitely a difficult shoot. We were all stuck in a war together and the logistics of just being in the desert for as long as we were, the way we went about telling the story, it was a very complicated film to make. And it pushed so many boundaries in so many ways.
"But I have such fond memories now after processing a lot of it for many years. I think very fondly of that film. I love that character tremendously and I am very proud of Furiosa. I am grateful that I had a part in creating her and that film will always hold a special place to me."
Oscar-winner Charlize came to the action genre relatively late, not pursuing action roles in any serious way until she turned 40 (not counting 2005's little-seen Aeon Flux).
"Yeah, when I entered this world at 40, it didn't necessarily feel like that much of a shock (physically) because of my dance background, though yes it hurts, for sure. Definitely, it's hard work and there has to be a certain amount of discipline you need."
Ever the pragmatist, Theron is keenly aware of her boundaries. "I think you have to be smart about it. I know that I have to condition, I have to strength train, I have to eat well, I have to rest. But outside of that, I don't feel like anything is holding me back compared to somebody who's in their 20s. I feel like my body still very much wants to do all of those things and more."
She talks about the importance of listening to your body. "There's an awareness that I've always had to my body, a connection, an understanding, and my body feels very close to me mentally. I understand it and I listen to it," she says. "And I think years and years of being a ballerina taught me to be good to it. And so I've always lived a life of fitness and wanting to do things with my body."
Although preparations are in the initial stages of a prequel to Mad Max - with a younger actress set to play Furiosa in an earlier stage of her life - would she consider coming back if George Miller came a-knocking about a sequel?
Without missing a beat, she says, "Of course, yeah. Absolutely!"
Her current movie, The Old Guard, has garnered rave reviews for her performance as a centuries-old warrior in constant peril battling the bad guys. After training in over 30 different martial arts styles, sword fighting and gun play, it was no surprise she racked up some injuries.
"Yes, there was a freak accident. My thumb got stuck in a performer's wardrobe and he turned abruptly and ripped my thumb all the way back and it tore all the ligaments off the bone. At the time, I knew it was painful, but I think I was in denial because we had two big action sequences to finish, all of them horseback fighting which I did with the injury," she recalls. "So, I rode and fought on all of those horses with my thumb just absolutely floating in the air. It was incredibly painful but we got through it," she says. "So I had some nerve damage in my hand, some carpel tunnel in my wrist and a pinched nerve in my elbow. But I've healed perfectly." She laughs: "So, now I am ready for the sequel!"
Like most parents around the world in lockdown, Theron has been home schooling. Given the roar of laughter when I ask how it's going, it seems her warrior skills are more refined than her teaching skills - at least according to her children, Jackson, 8, and August, 5.
"Listen, I thought I was doing really well until my eight-year-old turned to me and said 'You're a terrible math teacher!' The first thing I'm going to be really excited to do when it's safe is to send my little nuggets to school. I don't want to home school anymore, I can't wait to not have that responsibility anymore. I've almost had a nervous breakdown about it!" she admits. "Through all of this, I have a new appreciation for teachers on a whole new level."
Theron is quarantining with her mother and children in her Los Angeles home. She
describes the lockdown atmosphere at Chez Theron. "There's a lot of dancing in our house. There's always music, there's always some sort of a dancing and there's not a mirror they pass without some sort of move that happens," she laughs. "I love that about them."
A house full of love, particularly during this time is important, but is there room for another kind of love? Perhaps a romantic partner for Theron, who has never married but dated actors Sean Penn and Stuart Townsend in the past?
"No. That's not what I want right now," she says, definitively. "I'm happy."
Originally published as Star's horror 'freak accident' on set