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Charlize Theron Is Opening Up About the Pressure She Faced to Be Sexual Onscreen

Charlize Theron Is Opening Up About the Pressure She Faced to Be Sexual Onscreen

Charlize Theron talked to Harper’s Bazaar in a lengthy and vulnerable conversation about her career, where she was candid about some complicated feelings she about both her past and her present. She recalls getting into Hollywood as a young actor and feeling constant pressure to be more sexual onscreen — pressure she didn’t know how to refuse.

“I remember one movie in particular, this male director who just kept bringing me in, fitting after fitting after fitting,” she told Harper’s. “It was just so obvious that it was to do with my sexuality and how f***able they could make me in the movie. And when I started out, that was just kind of the norm.”

She says as a young actor, she didn’t always feel like she had a say in what her own limits were or comfortable she was with the direction. “Having absolutely no control over what you’re wearing is a big one that really f***ing annoyed me for years,” said Theron. “Having some guy make you have a fitting almost in front of them—stuff like that, it’s really belittling.”

“There was no conversation around it,” she says. “It was like, ‘This is what you’re wearing.’”

She says this pressure came to a point in 2003, while she and director Patty Jenkins fought to get Monster made. That movie was based on the true story of the serial killer Aileen Wuornos, and while Jenkins and Theron wanted to make a sobering, harrowing film about Wuornos’ life, studio executives were more interested in making it a “a hot lesbian movie with me and [co-star] Christina Ricci,” Theron says.

Since that time in the throes of the post-MeToo movement, intimacy coordinators have become more normal on Hollywood sets. Intimacy coordinators work with filmmakers ahead of time to lay out contractually what their clients are and are not comfortable with on set, and advocate for them during filming to make sure nobody is pressured into something they don’t want to do.

These days, Theron has her own production company that she hopes can protect young actors and give them the sort of leverage and opportunities she didn’t have as a young woman in Hollywood. “There’s a natural fight in me to want to create environments [on set] that feel like the things that I wish I had 30 years ago,” she said. “I am very aware of looking at the big picture and saying, ‘Is this really the best we can do?’”

Currently, she’s producing a followup to the 2020 action film The Old Guard — a movie with a cast and crew that’s about 85 percent women. That movie will be on Netflix next year.

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