Charlize Theron born 7 August 1975) is a South African and American actress and producer. She is the recipient of several accolades, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, an American Cinematheque Award, and the Silver Bear for Best Actress. Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2016, and she is one of the world’s highest-paid actresses, as of 2019.
Theron came to international prominence in the 1990s by playing the leading lady in the Hollywood films The Devil’s Advocate (1997), Mighty Joe Young (1998), and The Cider House Rules (1999). In 2003, she received critical acclaim for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress, becoming the first South African to win an Oscar in an acting category. She received another Academy Award nomination for playing a sexually abused woman seeking justice in the drama North Country (2005). Theron has since starred in several top-grossing action films, including Hancock (2008), Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), Prometheus (2012), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), The Fate of the Furious (2017), and Atomic Blonde (2017). She also received praise for playing troubled women in Jason Reitman’s comedy-dramas Young Adult (2011) and Tully (2018), and for portraying Megyn Kelly in the drama Bombshell (2019), receiving a third Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Since the early 2000s, Theron has ventured into film production with her company Denver and Delilah Productions. She has produced numerous films, in many of which she had a starring role, including The Burning Plain (2008), Dark Places (2015), and Long Shot (2019). Theron became an American citizen in 2007, while retaining her South African citizenship.
Theron was born in Benoni, in the then Transvaal Province (now Gauteng Province) of South Africa, the only child of Gerda (née Maritz) and Charles Theron (27 November 1947 – 21 June 1991). She grew up on her parents’ farm in Benoni, near Johannesburg. On 21 June 1991, Theron’s father, an alcoholic, threatened both teenaged Charlize and her mother while drunk, physically attacking her mother and firing a gun at both of them. Theron’s mother retrieved her own handgun, shot back and killed him. The shooting was legally adjudged to have been self-defense, and her mother faced no charges. Theron attended Putfontein Primary School (Laerskool Putfontein). At 13, Theron was sent to boarding school and began her studies at the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg. Although Theron is fluent in English, her first language is Afrikaans.
In the horror drama The Devil’s Advocate (1997), which is credited to be her break-out film, Theron starred alongside Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino as the haunted wife of an unusually successful lawyer. On 30 September 2005, Theron received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and several other awards. Theron was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Actress, Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, and BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Since 2008, Theron has been officially recognized as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.