Charlize Theron Shares Sexist ‘Italian Job’ Experience That Motivated Her To Prove Herself In Action Movies

Charlize Theron has been one of the premiere women in action movies since Mad Max: Fury Road. She’s actually been making action movies since Mighty Joe Young and Reindeer Games, but it took Hollywood a while to get it. 2003’s The Italian Job was an important stepping stone, but only because Theron made lemonade out of its sexist lemons.

Charlize Theron and MINI Cooper
Charlize Theron | Noboru Hashimoto/Corbis via Getty Images

San Diego Comic-Con@Home honored Theron with a panel celebrating her career in action movies. During her discussion with IGN’s Terry Schwartz on July 24, Theron described the situation on The Italian Job and how it motivated her. 

Charlize Theron was fast and furious in ‘The Italian Job’

Theron joined the Fast and the Furious franchise in The Fate of the Furious. The Italian Job was her first driving action movie, when the gang led chases in a caravan of MINI Coopers. 

Italian Job behind the scenes
Charlize Theron and Jason Stathem | Ben-Ari Finegold/Getty Images

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“For sure, The Italian Job was a great experience in the sense that I realized there was so much misconception around women in the genre,” Theron told Schwartz. “Even though that film, the action is really based on cars, we had to physically do a lot of that stuff. The only good thing that came out of that experience was there was a real pressure to pull off those stunts with the actors. That was the first time I experienced anything like that.”

‘The Italian Job’ assumed a girl like Charlize Theron couldn’t drive

Theron continued to be an actor who learned how to fight and do stunts herself. However, she called out The Italian Job producers for assuming she would need more training than her male costars, just because she was a woman.

“There was a very unfair process that went with that,” Theron continued. “I was the only woman with a bunch of guys. I remember vividly getting the schedule in our preproduction. They had scheduled me for six weeks more car training than any of the guys. It was just so insulting but it was also the thing that put a real fire under my ass.”

Theron did show up her male costars. 

Charlize Theron and Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron | | Pool BENAINOUS/LEFRANC/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

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“I was like all alright, you guys want to play this game, let’s go,” Theron said. “I made it a point to outdrive all of those guys [and] 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.”

She pulled off this fast and furious stunt

If you go back and watch the amazing driving in The Italian Job, know that Theron did this stunt herself. That empowered her to continue pushing for action movies and raising her own bar.

“I was very proud of the stuntwork that we did in that,” Theron said. “I did a stunt in that movie where I do a reverse 360 or maybe 180 in a warehouse with props everywhere and people. It was a huge moment of feeling like yeah, we can do all of this stuff. Women are so unfairly thought of or treated when it comes to this genre.”