Charlize Theron Opens Up About the Struggle of Being a Female Action Star: ‘A Lot of Women Don’t Get a Second Chance’

For all its glitz and glamour, Hollywood has a lot of problems brimming beneath the surface. For instance, even the biggest female stars often face issues sustaining a long-term career. And in Charlize Theron’s case, the Oscar winner struggled at first to establish herself as an action star. With The Old Guard now available on Netflix, Theron shares her road to becoming an action movie icon.

Charlize Theron at the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Charlize Theron at the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party | Toni Anne Barson/WireImage

Charlize Theron stars in action hits like ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

In the 2000s, Theron dabbled in action-thrillers like Reindeer Games and The Italian Job. But she didn’t really take center stage as the hero until 2005. Theron starred in Æon Flux, the live-action adaptation of an animated MTV series. Unfortunately, the movie’s box office and critical failure made it difficult for Theron to re-enter the action genre.

In movies like Hancock, she was back to a supporting role, adjacent to but rarely leading the action. That changed in 2015 with Mad Max: Fury Road. Despite Tom Hardy’s role as the title character, it’s Theron’s Furiosa whom audiences and critics fell hard for. The actor delivers a fierce performance on par with female action heroes like Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in Aliens.

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But she hasn’t always found breaking into the genre to be easy

In the years since playing Furiosa, Theron has made an effort to star in more action movies.  In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Theron talked about how she’s motivated by the fact that she nearly missed the chance to return to action movies.

Unfortunately, the very sad truth of any film in the genre with a female lead: whey they don’t succeed, there is this mindset of, “Well, if it doesn’t work, you just don’t touch it again.” A lot of women don’t get a second chance, but when men make these movies and fail miserably, they get chance after chance after chance to go and explore that again. That doesn’t necessarily happen for women. …

There’s always been that voice in the back of my head that still somewhat responds to that. I’m still influenced by that, and it’s one thing that drives me. It’s unfortunate that we feel like the opportunity will be taken away from us in a heartbeat if we don’t succeed, but that is the truth. It’s not a very forgiving genre when it comes to women.

No wonder Theron has been so focused on taking on more action projects. In the past few years, she headlined the John Wick-esque Atomic Blonde and played the villainous Cipher in The Fate of the Furious. And the actor will return to both roles soon. Due to the pandemic, Fast & Furious 9 was rescheduled for 2021, and Theron is developing Atomic Blonde 2 for Netflix.

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Her latest action movie, ‘The Old Guard,’ just hit Netflix

Over the years, Theron has also taken on a more integral role in her movie projects. The actor was involved in six movies in 2018 and 2019, all of which she had some kind of producer credit on. So, rather than simply take what Hollywood is offering, Theron is putting her voice into her work.

The Old Guard is the latest example of that. The movie features Theron as the leader of a group of immortal mercenaries. And it marks only the latest step in the actor’s increasing foothold in the action genre. These days, few stars are known for being as committed to action movies as Theron. Here’s hoping she keeps them coming.