As an Oscar-winning actress, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Charlize Theron no longer struggles to get bums on seats at cinemas.
But the South African beauty, who won Best Actress for her unforgettable role in Monster, admits women in Hollywood are still on a constant uphill struggle to land leading roles.
And she says that the problem doesn’t lie with producers in Tinseltown, but with society at large.
“You know, people say: ‘What’s wrong with Hollywood? Do I want to make female-driven movies?’” she asks.
“That’s not where the problem lies; it lies with us in society. When we make these movies, nobody goes to see them. So it’s a social issue, really, more than it’s a Hollywood issue. It is a business at the end of the day, and they make movies they find there’s an audience for.”
However, Theron has noticed that changes are afoot in recent years, and is thrilled at the fact women are now taking the lead in roles that are meatier than many in the past.
“I think there is an element when you make a film that’s like holding up a mirror to society,” the 40-year-old tells Loaded. “I think good film-making is when you do hold a mirror up truthfully. You don’t angle that mirror, and you don’t hide things with smoke and mirrors.
“I think women are starting to be represented that way, and I think people are responding to it. It’s fun to watch women do that stuff. I remember when I started out, I wanted to be Jack Nicholson in The Shining or Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver. I was like: ‘Where are those roles for women?’”
One such role that Theron has been able to sink her teeth into is that of Libby Day in new mystery thriller Dark Places, which is based on Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn’s novel.
The story follows the life of Kansas resident Day, after a horrific massacre killed her mother and sisters.
Theron was eager to work closely with bestselling author Flynn, and both women were adamant that a portrayal of a real, conflicted woman in Day was to remain at the forefront of the film.
“I feel it’s only in the last decade that we’ve seen women who are, if not more conflicted than men, kind of resurface,” ponders the mother-of-two. “People are talking about it because there has been such a lack of it.”
The actress is no stranger to playing “dark” women, having swept the boards at awards season in 2004 following her portraul of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster before recently playing Snow White’s stepmother Queen Ravenna in Snow White & The Huntsman.
“I can’t say that I’m attracted to ‘angry’, ‘dark’ people,” insists Theron, whose 18-month relationship with Sean Penn ended last summer.
“I think what I’m attracted to is characters that to me feel very truthful to the embodiment of a full woman. I think it’s just refreshing to kind of see women like Gillian write women like that, and to have been given the opportunity to get to play those women. It feels authentic and real.”
Dark Places sees Theron team up with Brit actor Nicholas Hoult once again, following their roles in the hugely successful Mad Max:Fury Road last year. And she’s full of praise for the actor, revealing that she thinks Hoult is “incredibly talented”.
“Nicholas is just a really great guy, and he’s incredibly talented. We joked on Fury Road that we were stuck in the same environment in that entire film, because we didn’t have that much to do. We just really liked each other, and he makes movies fun,” she gushes. “There’s something about him that I thoroughly enjoy, and that’s working with people who make the experience a great one.
“Nicholas was the first person I talked to Gill about. I think this was one of the first scripts I read when I came back from Namibia, and I was: ‘Oh! This would be amazing if we could make this with that guy!’ I think he was such a great asset to have, he’s so great in the film, just great, he’s really talented.”
It’s not just Hoult who’s a talent – with Theron and Flynn on board, Gone Girl has to be a winner.
Dark Places opens at cinemas on 22nd January and is out on Blu-ray™ and DVD from 22nd February, courtesy of Entertainment One
Loaded’s entertainment editor Jennifer O’Brien is an award-winning journalist who has written extensively about popular culture as a national newspaper columnist and author. Follow her on Twitter at @Jen_OBrien1