You know what else happens? Double standards. “I’ve always had issues with the fact that men kind of age like fine wines and women like cut flowers,” she says. “I despise that concept and I want to fight against it, but I also think women want to age in a way that feels right to them. I think we need to be a little bit more empathetic to how we all go through our journey. My journey of having to see my face on a billboard is quite funny now. ”
What the 48-year-old calls “movie magic,” the apparatus pulling the levers behind every image, is linked to our own eagerness to suspend our disbelief. We don’t really want her to age. We want time to stop, please, just for a little while longer, so Charlize can keep on being an action hero or plan a heist or kick someone’s ass.
We just want her to keep being her so we can ogle and marvel and think, Christ, how does she do it?
“I will never, ever do a movie again and say, ‘Yeah, I’ll gain 40 pounds. ’ I will never do it again because you can’t take it off,” she says. “When I was 27, I did Monster. I lost 30 pounds, like, overnight. I missed three meals and I was back to my normal weight. Then I did it at 43 for Tully, and I remember a year into trying to lose the weight, I called my doctor and I said, ‘I think I’m dying because I cannot lose this weight. ’ And he was like, ‘You’re over 40. Calm down. Your metabolism is not what it was. ’ Nobody wants to hear that. ”
Even in 2023, in a world of acceptance and body positivity, “that stuff is hard,” she says. “I’ve always found it so funny when I’ve gained weight for movies and then had to go onto a red carpet. ” Theron talks about her stylist Leslie Fremar as if she may or may not be her guardian angel. “I call her and say, ‘I’m doing this movie about postpartum depression and I’ve gained like 40 pounds. ’ And she’s like, ‘Oh, my gosh! Oh, my gosh! How am I gonna dress you? ’ It’s not something that you can just figure out last minute,” says Theron, pausing to explain their process. “She’s put a lot of blazers over open backs for me. ”
The actress also points out a problem you don’t anticipate when you’re young — or not a famous action hero. “The thing that really bums me out is that I make action movies now and if I hurt myself, I take way longer to heal than I did in my 20s. More than my face, I wish I had my 25-year-old body that I can just throw against the wall and not even hurt tomorrow. Now, if I don’t work out for three days and I go back to the gym, I can’t walk. I can’t sit down on the toilet,” she says, laughing. “It’s all those very real moments. ”
These days, Theron, who also oversees the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, is keenly aware of her legacy and of how being a mother somehow makes you more aware of ageing, of taking stock of your decisions, your life, all the stuff in your wake. My daughters “have no concept of what age is like,” she says. “They see somebody, they like what they’re wearing, or they think they’re pretty and they don’t really know if she’s in her 20s or she’s in her 60s. It’s so great. I love that. I wish we could just maintain that. ”
But, of course, we can’t. We all age, the only constant is change and all that. Except maybe in the time vacuum of the international departures terminal and a certain very golden fragrance ad.