Things You Might Not Know About Charlize TheronPublished on August 5, 2016. Updated July 22, 2020
Charlize Theron is one of the most recognizable actresses in Hollywood. Her talent has led her to many, many different roles, and a long the way she has become a fan favorite to millions of fans, and a highly sought after leading lady. Theron has had a wild ride to fame and one of the most intriguing backgrounds of many of the celebrities out there. Despite her level of fame, she has maintained a very private life away from the cameras, but that also means there is so much to know about the South African actress! Check it out:
10. Troubled Childhood
On June 21, 1991, when Charlize was only 15 years old, she witnessed her mother shooting and killing her father. Her father, Charles, was an alcoholic and one night he came home after drinking and after discovering he was locked out he flew into a rage, shooting bullets into the house where Theron and her mother were hiding, and he threatened to kill them. That was when Theron’s mother grabbed her own gun and killed him. She was cleared of all charges by South African courts after it was ruled as an act of self-defence. Charlize has never spoken outright about the traumatic event, simply stating, “Everything changed for me the day my father died. Years ago I used to cover it all up and say he died in a car accident. I have now come to terms with it and have been able to move on. This was so long ago in my life and my life, my emotions and the pain are not stuck in this one event.”
9. Early Life
Charlize Theron was born on August 7, 1975 in Benoni, which was in the then Transvaal Province of South Africa. She was the only child of Gerda Jacoba Aletta and Charles Jacobus Theron, who Charlize was named after. She grew up on her family’s farm in Benoni near Johannesburg, and attended Putfonein Primary School where she has said that she did not fit in. When she was 13 she was sent to boarding school and studied at the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg.
8. Learning English
Since she grew up in South Africa, Theron’s first language understandably isn’t English. Her first language is Afrikaans and she has stated that she learned English by watching American and British television shows when she was young, and she eventually became fluent in English as well. She also revealed that she still speaks Afrikaans regularly. “When I go [home] I speak a lot. I speak Afrikaans every single day because my mom lives two minutes away from me. I just feel weird speaking English to her, like I’m playing a character or something.”
7. Getting Started
Charlize Theron’s break into the entertainment industry came when she was 16 and had won a one-year modeling contract after competing in a local competition in Salerno. Thanks to the win, Theron along with her mother moved to Milan, Italy and she spent the year modeling throughout Europe, and Charlize eventually moved to New York and Florida and, while in New York, she pursued her lifelong dream of dancing. She attended the Joffrey Ballet School where she trained as a ballet dancer. Unfortunately a knee injury ended her dancing career before it had really begun. “I went to New York for three days to model, and then 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,” she said of that time in her life. “I realised I couldn’t dance anymore, and I went into a major depression. My mom came over from South Africa and said, “Either you figure out what to do next or you come home, because you can sulk in South Africa.”
6. Getting Noticed
When modeling and dancing didn’t work out, the one avenue left for the gorgeous blonde was acting, and after moving to L.A. on a one-way ticket bought for her by her mom, she was having trouble earning money. Her mother sent her a check, but when she went to the bank to cash it, she was prevented from doing so, and after Theron got irate, she got involved in a shouting match with the bank teller. After watching the entire interaction, talent agent John Crosby approached Theron and gave her his business card. Crosby was able to introduce her to casting agents and showed her a good acting school which helped launch her career.
5. Playboy Lawsuit
Just as Charlize Theron’s acting career was really taking off after roles in 1997’s The Devil’s Advocate, 1998’s Mighty Joe Young, and 1999’s Cider House Rules, she hit a bit of a bump. Somehow, she ended up on the cover of the May 1999 issue of Playboy magazine! It turns out that someone had obtained nude photos of her that were taken years before when she was an unknown model, so Theron sued Playboy for using the images without her consent, but her lawsuit failed and the editions were allowed to continue to run.
Over the years, Charlize Theron has encountered a few health concerns and injuries, some due to films she was working on. While filming Aeon Flux in Berlin, Germany in 2004, Theron suffered a herniated disc in her neck after falling while filming a series of back handsprings. Luckily the injury only required Theron to wear a neck brace for a month. She then contracted a serious stomach virus in 2009 after traveling overseas. She also injured herself while filming The Road when she damaged her vocal cords for the scene in which is she was screaming in pain from labor.
3. Personal Life
For the most part, Charlize Theron has worked hard at keeping her romances out of the spotlight despite the fact she has dated a series of fellow stars. In the mid-1990s, Theron dated actor Craig Bierko for two years. She went on to date Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins from 1997-2001. In 2001, however, she met Stuart Townsend when the two came together to film the movie Trapped, and they ended up dating for nine years before breaking up in 2010. Most recently, Theron dated Sean Penn, but their split was confirmed in June 2015. Even though her relationships haven’t worked out, Theron has expanded her family through adoption. In March 2012 she adopted her son Jackson and then in July 2015 she adopted a little girl named August.
Like several other stars, Charlize Theron suffers from a degree of obsessive compulsive disorder. According to the actress, the disorder presents itself to her with an obsession with cupboards and cabinets. “I actually have a serious problem – obsessive-compulsive disorder. I don’t do counting or anything like that. I’m good with chaos, I just don’t like it when Chaos is hidden,” Theron explained. “So I have a problem with cabinets being messy and people just shoving things in cabinets and closing the door. I will literally lie in bed and not be able to sleep because I’ll be like, ‘I think I saw something in that cabinet that just shouldn’t be there.” She also has to thoroughly explore every cabinet, closet and cupboard in any hotel she stays in before she can relax and feel comfortable.
1. Quitting Smoking
For a period of time Theron had a very severe cigarette addiction and admitted that at one point she was even going through up to three packs a day. She finally managed to force herself to quit, telling Vogue, “I thought, I don’t smoke like normal people. I smoke to die.” As it turns out, Theron turned to hypnosis to help her kick the habit, but she doesn’t talk about it because she is worried it will mentally jinx her and reverse the effects. According to sources, Theron used a combination of yoga and hypnosis called The Kerry Gaynor Method that was also used by stars including Paul Rudd and Martin Sheen. Despite quitting, in recent years Theron has been spotted sneaking a smoke on set making many wonder if she hasn’t been able to kick the habit for good.