Occupation: Actress, Model, Former dancer
Date of Birth: August 7, 1975
Place of Birth: Benoni, South Africa
Sign: Sun in Leo, Moon in Leo
Relations: Father: Charles (farmer; deceased); mother: Gerda (farmwife, construction company manager); companion: Stephan Jenkins (Third Eye Blind frontman)
Education: Studied dance and performed with New York's Joffrey Ballet.
YOU KNOW A movie's really bad when the actress who didn't get the part is nearly religious with gratitude. Then again, you don't need anyone to remind you that Showgirls was bad. Charlize Theron's reaction to losing the lead in that "film" (we use the term loosely) to Elizabeth Berkley was simple: "It was like I had some guardian angel." We'd have to agree. And that guardian angel has continued to shine on the South African native, bringing her towards the same kind of milky-faced stardom that was once owned by Grace Kelly.
It all began with the epic 2 Days in the Valley, in which Theron kicked Teri Hatcher’s butt. The film appears to have foreshadowed real life, as Theron now challenges Hatcher for the role of Internet Goddess of Downloads. But she's not just a babe: 2 Days made directors sit up and take notice, and not only because of her body.
Born in Benoni, South Africa, in 1975, Theron grew up on a rural farm (is there such a thing as an "urban farm?"), where her daily chores included milking the cows at dawn. By age 6, Charlize knew that her future was in ballet, and by her teen years, she was enrolled in a performing arts school in Johannesburg. The next chapter reads like a Sidney Sheldon novel: 16-year-old Charlize casually entered a modeling contest. She won. An Italian fashion scout whisked her away to Milan for a shoot, and a moderately successful modeling career followed. But "moderately" wasn't enough for the impatient Theron. When an American magazine flew the headstrong youngster to New York, she decided not to use the return portion of her ticket, opting instead to chase the dream of showbiz success.
Discouraged by the Big Apple's high cost of living and low temperatures, Theron began studying and performing with the Joffrey Ballet. Her future as a professional dancer looked promising until 1995, when she suffered a career-ending knee injury. Distraught, the then-20-year-old called her mother for advice. In what has to be a rare scenario, Theron's mother sent her money and suggested her daughter head to the hills of Hollywood to make it in film.
In another storybook twist, Theron was "discovered" while throwing a temper tantrum at a bank that wouldn't cash her mother's check. An agent liked her chutzpah and gave her his card. Much to her surprise, the agent, John Crosby, was actually legit -- among his other discoveries was Rene Russo, who he'd spotted at a Rolling Stones concert. A partnership was born.
The young Charlize survived the rounds of endless auditions for commercials, and although she didn't land a single one, she did land 2 Days, a pretty impressive catch for a rookie. Soon thereafter, she was cast opposite her childhood crush, Tom Hanks, in That Thing You Do!
In Woody Allen's Celebrity, Theron portrayed an attitudinal supermodel to the hilt. Then, starring opposite a big ape (and we don't mean Bill Paxton) in Mighty Joe Young, Charlize proved she could carry a movie on her own. Most recently, she co-starred with Johnny Depp, taking the title role in the thriller The Astronaut's Wife. Charlize met her boyfriend, Stephen Jenkins, while on holiday with her family in Hawaii over Christmas of 1997. A fan of the band, Third Eye Blind (in which he was the singer), she attended their concert at the Hard Rock Cafe and decided to meet up with the band after the show. The rest is, as they say, history!
1999 The Yards
1999 The Astronaut's Wife
1999 The Cider House Rules
1998 Mighty Joe Young
1997 Devil's Advocate
1997 Trial and Error
1996 2 Days in the Valley
1996 That Thing You Do!
1984 Children of the Corn
1997 Hollywood Confidential
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)