Wednesday, 06 June 2012 14:41
Other than Charlize Theron pranking the press by boasting about being naked throughout her new movie (Ridley Scott's doomsday Prometheus), the plot has been shrouded in enormous sci-fi secrecy.
Rather than disclosing any hints about her role in this summer's action-horror, Charlize–who recently premiered in Snow White and the Huntsman with Kristen Stewart–seemed to savor tossing out rapid one-liners rather than sitting down to an interview. To be fair, this lovely lanky lady did dish as much as she could about the upcoming film. Also up for discussion? Her lack of sympathy; women in truthful roles (no matter how much that scares men); and the Madonna/Whore Complex.
OK, so this is what we do know: The movie is about a team of explorers who discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, and then, as you might imagine, they must fight a battle to save the race. And Charlize is a bit of a smarty-pants.
By Prairie Miller
How do you feel about all the secrecy in which Prometheus has been tightly wrapped?
It's so cryptic. It's so annoying!
Well, can you talk about the character you play?
No, I can't. Sorry. I'm just here to be pretty.
I play this lady called Meredith Vickers. She's the suit who runs the company that has nickel-and-dimed this whole thing together to fund this mission. And initially, she really was just that.
I felt like the character was just a little one-dimensional. So I got on the phone and threw very loose cannons at [co-screenwriter Damon Lindelof] and Ridley.
I can't tell you what Damon came up with, but he came up with some good shit! So Vickers starts out one thing, and ends up another thing. And with Ridley, there were many days that I showed up and he would throw me in the corner, just lurking. And then, all of a sudden, that became a character trait.
We get a really great glimpse of your character in some footage. When everyone wakes up after the two years of sleeping and they're throwing up and getting sick, your character is doing pushups. What's the deal?
I spoke to Ridley and we were wondering how we could maybe play more on the mystery. Otherwise she becomes a one-dimensional suit. And then Ridley came up with that idea to put me in a physical position where physically, I'm saying 10 times more than I could verbally.
And when he called me with that, I thought, oh f*** yeah! That girl, that's the girl I like. The girl who wakes up early, does the pushups and is like, "Did anybody die?" I have Ridley to thank for that.
And I'm naked, the entire time!
Is that a joke, the nude thing?
I wasn't joking! I'm an Academy Award winner. I'm serious.
Is nudity in your comfort zone?
That's always so interesting. Look, it's not like I f***ing love being naked. I'm totally insecure, like every other woman. But when I'm naked, I really like to do push-ups!
I think I really tackle it like everything else. If you're going to commit yourself to playing something, you have to be able to understand it. And if you can understand it, then you can do it and go balls out with it.
But I've never been in a position where I've been like, "This doesn't feel right." I wouldn't do it if I felt that way. I like the shock value of being naked. I think that if you use it correctly, it's pretty effective. As long as I'm lit really, really, really well!
I don't know how much of the comfort is where you come from or how you were raised. I was a ballerina for 12 years, and I changed backstage.
What excited you about this character?
For me, Vickers is such a different character. She's not a believer; she's not a scientist. She comes with this very frigid, cold, economic mind. And yet there's something about her that's questioning and doubting.
Through her, we really explored a lot of deep shit, which was really fun. Eventually, I get to do some really fun stuff.
But I don't really get to do a lot as Vickers. I'm the suit, so I have a very fancy office with very expensive chairs. And I boss people around, and cause a lot of red tape. In my very expensive suit.
I guess there's a lot that makes her the enigma that she is in the beginning that comes across very quintessentially suit-y. I guess like detached and cold, and that she really is just there for the sole purpose of making everybody's life hell as suits tend to want to do!
Are there any big ideas in this movie?
This is a straightforward comedy.
When the tabloids pry into your personal life, does that get to you?
I think if you think too much about what the outside world is going to think, or what you people are going to think, it stifles the creativity. And I don't really know how to work from there. But I do like the feeling of waking up on my own, and having this moment of, "Oh f***, I hope I can do this today."
How do you prepare yourself for such different parts, from something like Young Adult to Prometheus? You've played mentally ill, delusional and loser.
Keep going! And thanks for insulting me! I've never been a fan of labels, you know? I think it's very easy to look at somebody and just throw a label on them.
Such as, "They're crazy." Or whatever. And I'm not a big fan of overly justifying bad behavior or why people are the way they are. I think that's a copout. I don't have a lot of empathy for that. I don't like to go for the overly sympathetic; I don't really like sympathy.
I don't like to for myself. Sometimes sympathy can feel like you're trying to victimize someone. I don't know, maybe it's my own business that I have to deal with. But I think more than anything, people just want to be understood, you know?
Every time I start a new film, it's somewhat from scratch. You can't come into a new job carrying leftovers. And I don't think I'd ever want to do something that felt like it was regurgitated from the last job though I haven't seen Prometheus yet; maybe it is similar. Who knows?
Do you see the kinds of female images you do as progress for women, or a step backward?
I talked a lot about this when I did Monster. I think people get really freaked out when they see real women conflicted. I think women are almost way more conflicted than men. And I think we come from a society where we're very comfortable with the Madonna/Whore Complex.
We're either really good hookers, or really good mothers. But we're not bad hookers, and we're not bad mothers. And we're nothing in between. I think it is refreshing to kind of see that.
I grew up on cinema where guys got to do that. Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and De Niro got to play all of those kinds of characters that I saw a bit of myself in. Those kinds of struggles and the lurking dark-y things, you know?
It's very rare to see women like that. We are those honest characters that women are getting to play. And when people tell me, "Oh that's so brave." It really isn't. It's just refreshing. And it's so great as an actress to get the opportunity to do something that's incredibly truthful. It's been really, really, nice.
Are you anything now like who you were in high school?
I actually got the mean girl stuff out of me. I really experienced that stuff from the ages of seven to 12. I was pretty much a mess after primary school. There was a really, really popular girl in my school, and I was obsessed with her. I mean, you'd go to jail for that stuff today!
I'm so embarrassed; I was actually in tears one day because I couldn't sit next to her. Yeah, I have issues! But I got that out of my system, so by the time I went to high school, I was more immune to all of that stuff.
I wasn't really in the popular crowd. I went to art school, where I was kind of obsessed with ballet. And I wore really, really nerdy glasses. I was blind as could be! And boys don't really like big nerdy glasses. Not so much.
I had a crush. I didn't really have boyfriends, but I had a massive crush on this boy. The guy who interviewed me for Vogue actually went and found him.
And this guy from school, by the way, didn't know that I existed then. And he was saying, "Yeah, tell her the crush was mutual." F*** that! The crush was so not mutual. And he was like, "Oh, I remember she wore those glasses." Ewww!
Do you get obsessed with directors too?
Yeah, Jason Reitman! Up In The Air got me hooked on him. Jason taps into things emotionally, the same way I do. So, that's all I can think of right now, fresh off my mind. Him and Fellini. That will make me sound smarter!
How did you spend those couple of years when you weren't working?
On my couch! Potato chips! Unemployed. No, it sounds like it was like that, but I was actually working on my production company. So creatively, I wasn't feeling like I wasn't doing anything. I just wasn't in front of the camera.
How do you feel about rehearsals and table-reads?
I hate it! I break out in hives! I hate to read words out loud. When [Young Adult director] Jason made us do a table-read at his house, this f***er, I was like, "You're kidding me. Are we gonna do this now? All right, bitch. Let's go!"
Sounds fresh from the pages of the magazine