One of Hollywood’s biggest action stars, Charlize Theron, says she faced gender discrimination early in her career.
The Oscar winner starred in the 2003 movie The Italian Job alongside actors Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton, Jason Statham, and Donald Sutherland. Like her famous male co-stars in the film, Theron, 44, had to undergo training before cameras rolled — but she says she was forced to train for six weeks longer than the men.
“I realized there was still so much misconception around women and the genre. Even though in that film the action is really based on on cars, we had to physically do a lot of that stuff,” Theron, 44, said while appearing in a virtual [email protected] on Friday, via IndieWire. “There was a real pressure to pull off those stunts with the actors … there was a very unfair process that went with that. I was the only woman with a bunch of guys and I remember vividly getting the schedule in our pre-production, and they had scheduled me for six weeks more hard training than any of the guys. It was just so insulting.”
The actress said the situation “put a real fire under my a–.”
“I was like, ‘All right, you guys want to play this game, let’s go,’” she said. “I made it a point to outdrive all of those guys. I vividly remember Mark Wahlberg, halfway through one of our training sessions, pulling over and throwing up because he was so nauseous from doing 360s.”
Theron also discussed wanting to prove herself when taking on action roles early in her career.
“When I started my action career, it was so important to sell the authenticity of, ‘Yes, I can fight and I can take this guy down and I can survive this,’” she said. “There was such a level of wanting to prove that to audiences who for years said ‘No, a woman could never fight a guy that size.’”
The actress most recently starred in Netflix’s The Old Guard, in which she played an immortal mercenary leading a team of fearless warriors like her. The movie saw 72 million households tune in during its first week of release, according to the company.
Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights), the movie has been a huge hit — and Theron can’t quite believe it.
“It’s pretty nutty, right?” Theron recently told Variety, reacting to the number of people who have seen it. “It’s pretty crazy.”
Charlize Theron has been putting in the action hero work for years. Put some respect on her name!