Charlize's Oscar curse
PAUL BYRNE asks THE STAR if her WOBBLING CAREER is on track again
It has been a while since Charlize Theron has made a film worth watching. The last was Monster, the movie that won the South African-born beauty an Oscar for her ugly portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wournos. From that moment on, Theron's career has been wobbling between would-be blockbusters such as Aeon Flux (2005) and Hancock (2008) and earnest but dull offerings such as The Burning Plain (2008) and Battle In Seattle (2007). Perhaps it's the Oscar win curse or maybe it's just bad choices.
"I think you have a different expectation put upon your shoulders once you win an Oscar," says Theron. "It's like you've climbed to the top of the mountain, so now, you know, game over. Who's next for this glittering prize?
"Ultimately, you never can tell what a film is going to do to your career -- how an audience is going to react to it. More importantly, you just never know what the box-office is going to be. Unless you're Harry Potter, of course. Or Bruce Wayne."
For Theron's latest outing, Young Adult, box-office is plainly not the main consideration. This is a $12m-budget film that aims for quality rather than quantity, Theron joining the directing and writing team behind Juno -- Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody -- for a tale that's knowingly cool, quirky and cruel. And the critics have been lapping it up.
"The response from critics has been pretty amazing, yeah," nods Theron. "You know you're dealing with something smarter than your average comedy when you've got a director like Jason and a writer like Diablo."
In Young Adult, Theron plays Mavis Gary, "the girl you hated in high school", and now a writer of teen novels who isn't selling all that many books these days.
Add to that a recent divorce, and the homecoming queen is in need of some TLC. And she knows just the man to give it to her -- her old high-school sweetheart, Buddy (Patrick Wilson). The fact that Buddy is now a happily married father doesn't seem to bother Mavis.
"There's a certain mental instability there, one that gives this tale a little more sting that people might expect," says Theron. "That's what drew me to the role. People get crazy when they're in love. And they get even more crazy when they're out of love."
Naturally, reality ends up biting Mavis in the ass, and she ends up having to face a few ugly truths about her pretty little life. Which is a feeling Theron herself must have found easy to relate to, having faltered not only in her career over the past few years, but also splitting from her boyfriend of nine years, Dubliner Stuart Townsend, back in January of 2010.
The two had gone so far as to plan their big Irish wedding.
"I've always chased the work that moves me," she says, "and sometimes that work isn't going to connect with a lot of people. When it came to making Young Adult, I just felt I was raring to go."
Having received a Golden Globe nomination for her troubles, Theron lost out when it came to the Oscars, Rooney Mara from the American remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo taking her place in an otherwise identical Best Actress list of nominations.
Not that Theron is all that worried. Already lined up for later in the year is Snow White And The Huntsman, out in June, followed by Ridley Scott's Alien prequel-of-sorts Prometheus, co-starring our own Michael Fassbender.
"I have been having a lot of fun at work these days," finishes Theron. "It's so important to love what you do. I fell out of love, just a little bit, with acting, but now, it's what I wake up thinking about every morning. Well, most mornings. I'm not crazy . . ."
See George Byrne's review of Young Adult on page 37