Charlize Theron on Gaining 50 Pounds for Her ‘Tully’ Role

May 14, 2018

The Atomic Blonde and actor’s actor, the indefatigable Charlize Theron, is delivering another gut-wrenching, groundbreaking, career-defining performance in the 2018 Sundance hit Tully.

Theron plays a mother of three suffering through postpartum depression with raw emotion, physical intensity, and a keen sense of verisimilitude–not to mention, with an extra 50 pounds around the midsection.

“I did this, yes, but mothers do this every single day, and they get pregnant and they gain all that weight, and it takes them a year and a half to lose it. And if they don’t, they get judged. And I feel like I had to do it for the film,” Charlize told Ellen DeGeneres. “If I was going to play a mother who’s having her third child, I felt a responsibility to that. And I think for myself, as an actor, I wanted to feel as much as I possibly could.”

When Theron committed to the role, she was extraordinarily fit as a result of her power-packed performance in Atomic Blonde for which she worked out like a UFC fighter to play the brutal and, in fact, lethal spy Lorraine Broughton. She trained in a number of disciplines including martial arts, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, judo, as well as strength and conditioning training. After the shoot, Theron was looking forward to beach time in a bikini.

But her Tully work demanded she get to work and start consuming large quantities of food; her favorite was overindulging on potato chips. “I had a bag in my car, a bag in the bathroom, a bag in the kitchen, a bag on the couch, a bag in my trailer–everywhere I went, there was just a bag,” she said.

Charlize drank sugary sodas and visited In-n-Out Burger three times a week for the greasy burgers and decadent milkshakes. The normally svelte actress would wake up in the middle of the night to eat macaroni and cheese to keep the pounds on. And although she says the first three weeks of the binge were close to heaven, the overabundance of processed foods and high-sugar content not only left her lethargic and chronically tired, it actually triggered depression in the star for the first time in her life. “I really struggled with it. It was hard,” she said.

Charlize did gain a significant amount of weight at the age of 27 playing the deranged serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster. Her performance won her critical acclaim and many awards including a Best Actress Oscar. Back then, getting back into shape proved to be a simple task. “I just didn’t snack for a week,” she recalls. However, when it came to recovering from her Tully role, losing the pounds proved to be much more of a challenge. “Six months into it, I called my doctor and said, ‘I’m dying.’ And he said, ‘No, you’re just 42.’” It took her a year and a half to shed the weight.

Although Charlize doesn’t think gaining weight for a role is heroic, it is also not inconsequential. Indeed, gaining or losing a significant amount of weight and risking your overall health has long been a factor in delineating legendary status in the subculture of Method acting. Think of DeNiro in Raging Bull, Christian Bale in The Machinist, or Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club. It would have been easy for Charlize to wear a prosthetic bodysuit, but that just wouldn’t cut it for one of the most dedicated actresses in Hollywood today.  

But Charlize doesn’t consider herself a tortured artist; she, in fact, loves her job as an actress and she makes sure to separate work from her personal life. Theron gets enough sleep and enjoys her weekends at home with loved ones, making sure to “switch on” when she arrives back at work.

Tully is now playing in theaters across the country.


Tom Cruise and Charlize Theron’s On-Set Injuries

August 15, 2017

Actors who dare to execute their own stunts garner the admiration of their audiences, and even their peers, the world over. Exhibiting such courage and physical prowess is not only tough as nails, but it can also take a character’s authenticity up a few notches–and sometimes even off the charts. The ambition and grit required to pull off the challenging and risky stunts, however, can be met with injury at any moment–and at times, serious injury. Here are two daredevil actors whose injuries can be added to the long, ever-growing list of on-set mishaps: Tom Cruise and Charlize Theron.

Tom Cruise

Recently on a London set, Tom Cruise took a brave leap across buildings while portraying Ethan Hunt for Mission Impossible 6. The 55-year-old actor attempted to run and jump from a rigging onto a nearby building but fell just short of the mark. Unfortunately, the megastar slammed into the side of the building hard. He reportedly attempted the stunt at least twice–both times meeting the same fate.

Although Cruise was strapped to a harness for protection, it didn’t seem to help in reducing the impact. The actor was clearly seen limping, writhing in pain, and holding his knee before being assisted by the on-set safety team. There are still questions about his condition and if production will need to be postponed for the action-thriller.

Cruise is famous for performing his own death-defying stunts including treacherous rock climbs, outrageous motorcycle chases, scaling the world’s tallest building, and dangling from a flying airplane. Sadly, the recent mishap occurred shortly after Mission Impossible 6 producer David Ellison, told Collider: “What Tom is doing in this movie I believe will top anything that’s come before. It is absolutely unbelievable–he’s been training for a year.” Now many people are questioning if it might be unwise for a man Tom’s age to be performing such insane stunts. The film is currently set for a July 2018 release date.

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron was driven to make her empowered femme fatale character Lorraine Broughton as real as possible. With the Atomic Blonde protagonist being a top-level MI6 field agent and highly trained fighter, the Oscar-winning star knew she was going to have to pull off long and brutally raw action scenes–and do it believably. The 42-year-old actress knew she’d be taking a lot of hits on set–and giving them as well–in the Cold War spy thriller.

“I trained for the whole film about two-and-a-half months just to get my body to have some sort of muscle memory where I could just fight instead of just learning steps,” Theron said. She hit the gym for hours on end everyday learning Judo and other martial arts disciplines, and physically pressing the envelope. When the star would return home to her two young children, she’d sit down after being punched, kicked, and thrown into walls, and nurse her prodigious wounds. “Picking up my kid felt like picking up a mountain,” she said.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. Indeed, the pain was just starting. Theron explains, “When I trained, I actually cracked two teeth in the back of my mouth clenching while fighting because apparently, my arm strength wasn’t strong enough.” She told Xpose it was self-inflicted: “I think it was pure panic,” emphasizing the pressure she felt to pull off the brutally athletic feats for her passion project–wearing six-inch heels to boot! Needing to have her teeth removed, she went in for dental surgery right before traveling to Berlin to shoot the film.

Theron is still in the process of dealing with her teeth, but at least she’s no longer in agonizing, chronic pain. “I’m going in for my fourth root canal,” she said.

Charlize has had her share of on-set injuries. During the production of Snow White and the Huntsman, she screamed so much one night that she tore a stomach muscle. And she experienced a frightful injury during the making of Aeon Flux. Specifically, she suffered a herniated disc while performing a series of back flips and was almost left paralyzed. As a result, she had to wear a neck brace for months.

Charlize Theron on the Difficulties of Being a ‘Gorgeous’ Actress

April 9, 2016

In British GQ magazine’s May issue, the statuesque Charlize Theron talks about her difficulties in finding powerful roles in Hollywood because of her stunning appearance.

“Jobs with real gravitas go to people that are physically right for them, and that’s the end of the story,” the 40-year-old actress said. “How many roles are out there for the gorgeous f—ing, gown-wearing eight-foot model? When meaty roles come through, I’ve been in the room and pretty people get turned away first.”

Similar arguments have been made by other actors with striking appearances. For instance, Rob Lowe once argued, “There’s this unbelievable bias and prejudice against quote-unquote good-looking people, that they can’t be in pain or they can’t have rough lives or be deep or interesting. They can’t be any of the things that you long to play as an actor.” Jennifer Lawrence likewise was originally told she was “too pretty” for the lead in Winter’s Bone–the part that went onto be her breakthrough role.

But Theron’s comments were immediately pounced on in social media, many arguing that beauty hasn’t been a problem for Oscar-winning actresses like Brie Larson, Lupita Nyong’o, Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway, among countless others. Additionally, some people point out that Theron’s Amazonian beauty was clearly working on her behalf at the age of 16 when she won a one-year modeling contract. And indeed, her beauty was surely instrumental when Theron was discovered at the age of 19 when first arriving in Los Angeles to pursue acting. That is, a talent manager discovered her while she was yelling at a bank teller who was refusing to cash an out-of-state check; this proved to be an important step which lead to her being famous by the age of 21. For reasons like these, the British Independent magazine argues, “Despite what she might think, Charlize Theron is lucky: labelling beauty a burden is a luxury only beautiful people have.”

That being said, Charlize is known for speaking her mind no holds barred. The South African star has spoken out about Hollywood sexism, campaigning for equal pay in the industry after the Sony hacks leaked emails revealing the significant salary disparity between actors and actresses. And she is certainly a fierce and celebrated acting force. Theron has not only landed but nailed meaty roles like her Oscar-winning performance in Monster in which she gained 30 pounds and wore prosthetic makeup to portray serial murderer Aileen Wuornos. Another role she played down her beauty was Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road in which she wore a gritty buzz cut.

It’s clear that beautiful actors have the luxury of being able to portray distinctly attractive roles as well as be able to carry off less becoming ones. Think Christian Bale in American Hustle and Jennifer Aniston in Cake. But what do you think? Do you agree that gorgeous actors tend to be overlooked for serious roles?


A Weighty Commitment

December 19, 2011

You’re certain you want to make it as an actor. You’ve known it since you can remember, and nothing’s going to get in your way. But, have you given thought to everything it will take to achieve immortality? Have you thought about the many sacrifices in store for you as an actor and budding legend? Robert Di Nero gained 60 pounds to play the volatile pugilist Jake LaMotta in Scorsese’s epic Raging Bull. And before he gained the weight, Robert absolutely shredded his physique by training constantly with the real-life brawler who inspired the film. He even went so far as to compete in three organized bouts, winning two. Now, you may not be asked to put your life and health on the line for an acting role, but make no mistake, the craft of acting is all about commitment. Take, for example Charlize Theron’s performance in the celebrated and controversial film, Monster. Before that film, much of her cache was in her beauty and smoldering sexuality. It was a real risk for Charlize to gain 30 pounds and be seen as an ugly, even hideous person. Taking that weight off and getting back into svelte, puma form was not easy, I’m sure. Was it worth it? Well, she won the Oscar for best actress and cemented her place in Hollywood as a serious actress. Oh, and did I mention Di Nero won best actor for his role in Raging Bull which was voted best film of the decade.

It is nothing less than frightening watching a skin-and-bones Christian Bale operating a table saw in the Hitchcockian thriller, The Machinist. Just the idea of someone that frail and weak operating heavy machinery is enough to make you formally place your hands over your eyes. He lost a staggering 63 pounds for the role that made him a legend in some circles. Now, am I saying you should go out and start starving yourself or pounding Krispi Kremes for your next movie role? Generally speaking, doing anything unhealthy for your body is a no-no for any actor. But, you have to be prepared to do what it takes to deliver a legendary performance if you want to be seen up there on Mount Olympus with the big boys. Or big girls in Charlize’s case.