When you think of Charlize Theron, it's likely that you picture a stunning, South African princess - all long, tanned limbs, big blue eyes, and flowing, bouncy golden locks. And that's undeniably her iconic look. But what you may not realize is that Theron has led a deeply troubled life.
For a long time, she's been quiet about the darkest aspects of her childhood. But in a candid interview with NPR, Theron has spoken out. Alongside talking about growing up in apartheid-era South Africa, Theron detailed a traumatic sexual assault by a famous Hollywood director. But the biggest revelations were on her home life growing up...
Born in Bononi, South Africa, in 1975, Charlize Theron is an extremely talented actress.She rose to prominence in the later nineties, with leading roles in The Devil's Advocate (1997), Mighty Joe Young (1998), and The Cider House Rules (1999).
Since then, she's starred in a wide range of genres.Newer Theron fans may recognize her best from the Mad Max: Fury Road and Snow White & The Huntsman. Theron also runs her own independent film company called Denver & Delilah Productions.
She's truly a multitalented queen.And, on top of her acting range, she's also pretty multifaceted in her appearance. In 2003, the undeniably stunning Theron donned prosthetics to play serial killer, Aileen Wuornos, in Monster. Her performance earned her an Oscar win - the first-ever for a South African actress.
You probably better recognize Theron like this.Along with being hugely talented in many different arenas, Theron is also absolutely beautiful.
But, behind Theron's sunny exterior...
via: ShutterstockIt's clear she hasn't had the easiest of lives - as she detailed in a candid interview with NPR this week.
For one thing, Theron grew up in apartheid-era South Africa.
via: Shutterstock"It was only until I was 12 or 13 that I went to an art school in Johannesburg where I really got to witness firsthand absolutely the atrocities of apartheid," she explained.
"I didn't really truly understand what any of this really did to me as a young child until I was in my mid-30s and I went to therapy for the first time, because of a relationship that was failing."
via: Shutterstock"And what I discovered while in therapy, trying to save my relationship, was that I had a lot of trauma from being a young child growing up in South Africa during the apartheid era."
"I benefited. My life was more comfortable because of the suffering of a lot of people who just by chance were born in the 'wrong' skin color."
via: Shutterstock"That was a lot for me to carry; it still is. It's something that I'll carry for the rest of my life."
And that isn't the only trauma Theron bravely shared.
via: ShutterstockShe also talked about her past sexual assault by an esteemed (but as yet unnamed) Hollywood director - another thing that still affects her to this day.
"In sexual harassment, you're always waiting for that moment where there's full closure, where you feel like you've actually ... had your moment, where you get to say your piece. And that never really happens."
via: Shutterstock"I've heard this repeatedly in hearing other women's stories, and that is the unfortunate thing about sexual harassment. You never get that moment where you feel like the tables are reversed and now he's finally getting it."
"I actually did disclose his name."
via: Shutterstock"You don't know that because every time I disclosed his name, the journalist made the decision to not write his name, and it goes to show just how deeply systemic this problem is."
But alongside all of the darkest aspects of her past...
via: ShutterstockThere's one that overshadows everything. And Theron has bravely decided to speak up on the subject.
Theron grew up with an abusive and alcoholic father.
via: Shutterstock"My father was a very sick man," she revealed.
Theron grew up only knowing one way of life.
via: Shutterstock"My father was an alcoholic all my life. I only knew him one way, and that was as an alcoholic."
And growing up with an addict parent really takes its toll on a family.
via: Shutterstock"It was a pretty hopeless situation. Our family was just kind of stuck in it."
It's clear that growing up with this level of fear has lasting impacts.
via: Shutterstock"The day-to-day unpredictability of living with an addict is the thing that you sit with and have kind of embedded in your body for the rest of your life, more than just this one event of what happened one night."
And it wasn't just Theron who was impacted.
via: Shutterstock"I think our family was an incredibly unhealthy one. And all of it, I think, scarred us in a way."
But the situation culminated in the most tragic way possible.
via: ShutterstockFor Theron's family, there was no happy ending to her traumatic childhood.
"It's unfortunately what happens when you don't get to the root of these issues."
via: Shutterstock"Of course, I wish what happened that night would have never happened."
When Theron was just fifteen, she survived one of the most tragic situations imaginable.
via: ShutterstockAnd she has, for the first time, shared the harrowing details of what happened the night her mother killed her father.
It started with her father returning home inebriated.
via: Shutterstock"My father was so drunk that he shouldn't have been able to walk when he came into the house with a gun."
Theron and her mother were (understandably) terrified.
via: Shutterstock"My mom and I were in my bedroom leaning against the door, because he was trying to push through the door."
It came down to a battle of strength.
via: Shutterstock"Both of us were leaning against the door from the inside to have him not be able to push through."
But Theron's father was determined.
via: Shutterstock"He took a step back and just shot through the door three times."
Theron and her mother were incredibly lucky.
via: Shutterstock"None of those bullets ever hit us, which is just a miracle."
Theron's mother was faced with a truly horrifying decision.
via: ShutterstockIt seemed to come down to allowing her father to continue or taking drastic action.
And in the end, her mother chose action.
via: Shutterstock"In self-defense, she ended the threat," Theron explains.
After revealing these tragic details, Theron continued.
via: ShutterstockShe bravely chose to open up as to why she'd decided to share her story.
Theron believed being open is the best way.
via: Shutterstock"This family violence, this kind of violence that happens within the family, is something that I share with a lot of people."
She thinks silence breeds negativity.
via: ShutterstockAnd not talking about these issues leads to a feeling of silence and shame.
But that's not all.
via: ShutterstockShe also thinks speaking out about these issues helps others in similar positions.
"I'm not ashamed to talk about it."
via: Shutterstock"I do think that the more we talk about these things, the more we realize we are not alone in any of it."
For Theron, this story isn't about its dramatic climax.
via: Shutterstock"I think, for me, it's just always been that this story really is about growing up with addicts and what that does to a person."
Whatever her reasons, it's incredibly brave to share a story like this.
via: ShutterstockAnd we can only imagine those who've been through similar situations are hugely grateful.
Alongside her talents, it's clear Theron is an unbelievably strong person.
via: ShutterstockOn top of her growth and recovery from a traumatic past, Theron is also a massive advocate for the gender-neutral community, too. Scroll on to learn about her latest cause.