The Oscar winning star makes a return to acting in this caustic dramedy from the director of Juno
After an impromptu career break, she’s not been on our screens in a lead role since The Burning Plain in 2008, Charlize Theron was set to get back with a bang in George Miller’s Max Max sequel Fury Road. But a delay in shooting til summer 2012 left her with a gap in her calendar, which she was happy to fill with Young Adult.
It’s the latest from filmmaker Jason Reitman – the award winning filmmaker behind Up in the Air and Juno and tells the story of an immature 30 something (Theron) who returns to her home town to bag her high school flame. There’s just one problem – he’s happily married. Young Adult is reviewed here and you can read on for some words from the star on her return to acting and playing such an obnoxious character.
Q: What appealed to you about this film?
A: It was really different. When I originally read it I thought that it was ballsy in the sense that Diablo [Cody] wrote a character, a protagonist who learns a lesson but doesn’t necessarily make a change in her life. And it felt very real to me. It felt very human to me. Sometimes when I watch movies they can feel very unrealistic and the third act is always kind of like this ‘a-ha!’ moment for every character and I just don’t know those people in real life. And it was really nice to read somebody on the page that felt human to me, a woman who doesn’t go through this amazing ‘a-ha!’ moment. And of course the idea of Jason Reitman directing it was very appealing to me. I’m very director driven and to get the chance to work with him was really the thing that sealed the deal for me.
Q: Did you know Jason Reitman before the film?
A: No, I literally ran into him at the Oscars and told him how much I loved Up In The Air, it was my favourite film of that year. And about a month later I ran into him again at a restaurant and he said ‘I read this script last night and it’s going to be my next film and I think you would be brilliant in it and let’s do this together..’
Q: But am I right in thinking there were a couple of setbacks along the way?
A: There was a lot of stuff that happened. I actually wasn’t available at first. I was about to leave for Australia to go and do Fury Road so I was a little bummed about the whole thing because Jason Reitman has been on the top of my list for a really long time and so when I thought that I couldn’t do this I was really depressed about it. And I went to Australia to start rehearsals on Fury Road and then that film pushed and then I came back and Jason called me and said ‘I heard that your film pushed, do you still want to do this with me?’ And I was like ‘oh my God, that would be amazing..’ So it happened in a kind of a roundabout way but thankfully it all happened.
Q: What could you see of yourself in her?
A: Oh my God, are you kidding me? (laughs). A lot! I mean, I think a lot of the things that she does that are so unflattering are things that all of us do to kind of get through the day, it’s really survival mode. The little lies and the way that she continually thinks that the grass is always greener on the other side and this idea that your life is so fantastic and how you project yourself to other people. With Mavis it’s extreme but there’s a truth in there that a lot of women recognise. And of course, there’s the loneliness. Mavis is very lonely, even though she wouldn’t admit to anyone, and I think every human being has experienced loneliness. There’s a lot of stuff in there that a lot of people are responding to.
Q: Was working with Jason what you hoped it would be?
A: I’ve had a lot of great experiences making films but this was the best experience I’ve ever had. And that’s quite something because I’ve had really amazing experiences and I think it was a combination of several things – the role, working with Jason, the material and the fact that I hadn’t really acted for three years. And to go back and have my first film in three years be Young Adult with Jason on a 30 day shoot, no hair and make up, sweat pants every day, and go to work and do some amazing character studies, it was just a joy. Every single day I had a giant smile on my face and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much. The other day somebody asked me ‘what role would you go back and play again?’ And I’d never thought about that and I’d never sort of longed to do a character from the past again, ever. But I realised that if I could do that it would be playing her again. And I sent a text to Jason and said ‘I would give anything to go back and do this movie with you again…’
Q: Why the three-year break from acting? Was that intentional or just the way it turned out?
A: It was just kind of just the way it turned out. There wasn’t anything coming my way that was blowing me away and also I started producing and developing a lot of television. So I was really busy and at the same time I was physically getting ready to go and do Fury Road so I was kind of off the market and belonging to Warner Brothers. And I was kind of sitting around waiting for the film to happen so I just started developing some stuff with HBO and David Fincher and with Ridley Scott’s company and so creatively I was really happy and busy but I just didn’t work as an actor.
Q: Did you do Prometheus after this one?
A: Yeah. And working with Ridley was amazing. Of Ridley’s generation I think there are about three that are masters of filmmaking and Ridley is one of them. I think every actor has a director that they dream to work with and for me it was Ridley. Out of all of those guys of his generation I’ve always walked around saying ‘God, I would give anything to work with Ridley Scott..’ and he was everything that I hoped and dreamed for. I’ve been a really lucky girl lately.
Q: You never seem to choose easy roles. Why is that?
A: I think I’m not really looking for anything. I think people think you walk around with these grand ideas of characters and I don’t. I watch a lot of films and I get inspired by filmmakers and writers and so I spend a lot of my time sitting down with writers that I like and directors that I like and that’s where my process starts. So for me it’s about finding people that I want to work with.
Young Adult is in cinemas from the 3rd of February. Read our review.