Monster of a role makes Charlize THeron a Hollywood heavyweight
March 1, 2004
LOS ANGELES —March It was a Monster of a role that transformed South African farm girl Charlize Theron from another pretty face into Hollywood heavyweight Sunday when she walked off with the best actress Oscar.
South African actress Charlize Theron delivers her tearful acceptance speech for Best Actress for her role in Monster at the 76th Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday night at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California.|
Photo: Timothy Clary, AFP
The ex-model and ballerina, 28, believed to be the first South
African to win an Oscar, was honoured for her startling performance
as US prostitute and serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Patty Jenkins'
low-budget biopic Monster.
The attractive blonde actress, who grew up outside the
provincial South African town of Benoni, underwent a staggering
physical transformation to play Wuornos, who was executed in
Florida in 2002 after her lesbian lover turned her in.
With the help of heavy make-up, liquid resin and an extra 13.6
kilograms (30 pounds), she portrayed a disturbed and vengeful woman
whose physical appeal has been knocked out of her, but managed to
evoke reluctant empathy for her murderous character.
Virtually unrecognisable, her porcelain skin was made blotchy,
her face puffy, her teeth mis-shapen and her lithesom figure bulged
for the role in the small film that she produced and turned into a
"I was a ballerina for 12 years and your body is just an
instrument and you use it," she said, adding that the
transformation had enabled her to become Wuornos and was never
intended to showcase her versatility.
"In rehearsals, everything felt wrong until I put on the pants
and the moccasins and the shirt and the teeth," she said. "My
greatest fear is that we wouldn't get close to who she really was."
The role is a far cry from the lighter and more glamorous roles
Theron has taken on in her eight-year acting career, in mainstream
hits such as 1997's The Devil's Advocate and last year's remake
of The Italian Job.
An only child, Theron grew up as a rural Afrikaans-speaking
South African schoolgirl who dreamed of a career as a ballerina and
once told a teacher she was going to be a princess.
The idyll was shattered, when at the age of 15, her mother Gerda
shot and killed her 43-year-old father Charles after he tried to
attack them. No charges were brought in the case, but it marked the
end of Theron's childhood.
Shortly after the horrific incident, the 16-year-old took up a
modelling in Paris and Milan before heading to New York where she
enrolled in a top ballet school until she was forced to stop
dancing after a knee injury.
Just as she was poised to head home, her mother persuaded the
then 19-year-old to fly to Hollywood to try her luck as an actress,
although her command of English was still far from perfect.
"I didn't even know Hollywood was in Los Angeles and thought
they'd given me the wrong plane ticket," she once said.
After being discovered by a talent scout in a bank in 1994,
Theron took acting lessons and began transfroming her heavy South
African accent to a California lilt to win film parts, the first of
which she got in 1995.
Since, she has cranked out around 20 movies, including Sweet
November, with Keanu Reeves in 2001, The Legend of Bagger Vance,
(2000) 2000's Reindeer Games co-starrring Ben Affleck and The
Cider House Rules (1999).
But despite the meteoric rise of the "boeremeisie" – Afrikaans
for farm girl – Theron said she doesn't want to be sucked into
Hollywood vanity and self-aggrandizement.
"I don't necessarily want to call myself a star. I mean, what is
the criteria for that?" she said. –Sapa-AFP
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