The first time I saw Charlize Theron on film was in The Devil’s Advocate. She had a supporting role but she made every scene count. I would go on to see many other films in which she starred — some bad, some impressive and others were just plain better forgotten.
Charlize Theron is an actress who, based on the roles she has played, is hellbent on not being taken as a bimbo. Even in the past, she did not capitalize on her looks but, instead, used those looks as a foil for her performance.
And she could go over-the-top with her intensity in proving that beautiful women are not necessarily dumb. There was a time when it felt like she was carefully choosing roles that demanded that the audience forget how good-looking she is so they could just focus on her character and performance. It looked like she was hunting for that perfect Oscar-worthy project so she could finally gain respectability as an actress. You know, Monster and North Country.
I don’t know how the willingness to gain 30 pounds and wear prosthetic teeth in Monster are contributory to “good acting” while North Country was so soap operatic that I threw away our DVD copy a long time ago. But it’s Hollywood where making sense isn’t exactly the norm.
It wasn’t after Monster and North Country that Charlize Theron started taking on strong-woman roles without the proverbial I am society’s victim underpinnings. In the process, she redefined herself from a dramatic actress to a bona fide action star. And I do think that, despite the rather long journey, she has succeeded extremely well.
That long journey started with a mistake that even the actress probably just wants to forget. I’m talking about Æon Flux — so contrived, so boring, so lost. But Charlize Theron looked good in it. How she gave life to the character and how she projected that on screen might have planted seeds in her mind that she could be that ass-kicking woman and still be true to her personal mission not to become that aging beautiful blonde who would have to keep her looks in order to survive in Hollywood.
Then, there was Prometheus (which I did not like) and, three years later, Mad Max: Fury Road which gave her career the second wind she seemed to be craving.
I’m not a fan of dystopian films where everyone looks like they need a bath badly. I never saw any of the first three Max Max films in their entirety, only bits and pieces, and my most intimate acquaintance with the franchise was being able to sing Tina Turner’s song.
But Fury Road came along, and I watched it. No diappointment there. Yes, everyone still looked like they needed to take long baths with a lot of scrubbing. But the machismo took a back seat. And Imperator Furiosa, Theron’s character, is a character that I wish young women would look upon as a role model rather than the proverbial damsel in distress whose ultimate salvation is deducing that her knight in shining armor is “the right guy” to spend happily every after with.
Then, in 2017, she appeared in Atomic Blonde and The Fate of the Furious. The message? Characters traditionally given to men work just as well when portrayed by women.
As the cyberterrorist Cipher, she was hyperintelligent and capable — think Blofeld but definitely not unattractive. Let’s face it — if Cipher were ugly and incapable of interesting conversation, would Dom Toretto even bother giving her a second glance when she pretended to have car trouble? The irony, of course, is that the penchant of men for sexy women was what got Dom into such big trouble.
And then came Atomic Blonde. Although I will forever remember it, first and foremost, for its soundtrack, I love how Lorraine Broughton elevated women’s roles in spy stories.
Of course, the reboot of the James Bond franchise has, to some extent, stopped treating women characters as intellectually vapid lookers but the sexism remains. From Casino Royale‘s Vesper Lynd to Spectre‘s Dr. Madeleine Swann to all the minor female characters, well, they all needed to be rescued by James Bond.
Then, along comes Lorraine Broughton and Charlize Theron effectively transformed her onscreen into a protagonist that inspires awe, fear and admiration all at the same time. No mean feat considering that she had to be ultra sexy too all the while.
When The Old Guard premiered on Netflix, I was prepared to be entertained. Charlize Theron was going to kick a lot of asses just like she had in Fury Road, Furious and Atomic Blonde.
But The Old Guard was more. At first, I thought it was just going to be an oblique rehash of 1986’s Highlander but, as we watched, it just got better and better.
Superheroes who are also almost immortals. Mercenaries for good causes. Soooo unlike so many Marvel movies and TV shows populated by muscle-flexing characters like Thor and Captain America. I was reminded of why I liked the first season of Jessica Jones.
Netflix confirmed that The Old Guard broke records. Surprisingly or not, the buzz surrounding the movie includes accolades for the inclusion of two gay superheroes, Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli), who have been in love with each other for millenia. A huge leap.
“This man is more to me than you can dream,” he says. “He’s the moon when I’m lost in darkness and warmth when I shiver in cold. And his kiss still thrills me, even after a millennia. His heart overflows with the kindness this world is not worthy of. I love this man beyond measure and reason. He’s not my boyfriend. He’s all and he’s more.”Source
The cliffhanger ending of the final episode titillates the viewer with hope for a second season. I’m one of those hopeful viewers.