Charlize Theron: ‘I was raised with a really good foundation. I was f–king lucky’


I’ve never realized this before, but holy mother, Charlize really does look like Madonna. It’s dependent on the styling of course, but if you threw a pair of lace gloves and a bustier on her, this would be Like a Virgin-era Madonna. Bless. Anyway, Charlize covers the new issue of Esquire and bad news, the photoshoot is by Terry Richardson. You probably figured that out already because the background is “p0rn-shoot white wall” and Terry handpicked the most cartoonish photos to use for the editorial. First Sean Penn and now Uncle Terry? Charlize, you need to spend time with better dudes.

As for the Esquire interview, I only got about halfway through before I had to stop. It’s not that Charlize is uninteresting – she’s always a pretty good interview – it’s just that Esquire consistently hires some of the worst celebrity profilers working in magazine journalism. The piece is written to death and I’m sure all of the interesting stuff is buried in the last few paragraphs. So, you can read the full piece here (Sean Penn makes a cheerful guest appearance) and here are some highlights:

Her life isn’t aspirational: “I’m sure some people would be like, ‘I would never want to have that life.’ Oh, I’m sure there’s a lot of aspects to my life that a lot of people wouldn’t want. Just personal choice things. Like the fact that I’m single at 38. That’s not necessarily what a lot of women want…. I mean unmarried. But I’m just saying, a life is good if it’s the life that you want.”

Dating Sean Penn: “I wasn’t in any place that I even wanted something like [a relationship]. Then one day you go: Oh, [Jackson’s] almost two now, and he has his little activities that he goes to and he’s got a bedtime now, and you have more time again. And it’s like if you are open to something, if you just let it happen, it will happen. When you least expect it. It was nice to be single and now it’s nice to be not single.”

A Million Ways to Die in the West: “I don’t think I’m funny in it. But I don’t think that was my job…I don’t do comedies, I mean, I just don’t.’

How she was raised: “I think I am who I am today because I was raised by parents who instilled certain fundamentals in me. Yes, there were things in my family that weren’t healthy – like any family but maybe to a little bit more of a severe degree – but the one thing I can give both of my parents was that I was raised with a really good foundation. I was f–king lucky to be born into that. Self-worth. Being a young girl and not putting your worth into your beauty. That was not something that I was raised with. So when I left home and everybody was like, ‘Oh, you’re pretty,’ I was like, I don’t even know what that concept means.”

[From Esquire]

The bulk of the conversation, oddly enough, was about Charlize’s turn as Libby Day in the adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places, which comes out later this year. I mean, why not talk about A Million Ways, right? That’s the film coming out immediately. But all of that talk was just an excuse for the Esquire writer to ask her a million questions about her father’s death by her mom’s hand and to her credit, Charlize doesn’t punch the writer. She just answers sort of matter-of-factly without saying anything new. Enough already!

Photos courtesy of Terry Richardson/Esquire.

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68 Responses to “Charlize Theron: ‘I was raised with a really good foundation. I was f–king lucky’”

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  1. PS says:

    I thought her mother killed her abusive father in self defense ?

    • Dani2 says:

      That’s what I thought, and she’s very close to her mother and almost always mentions her exclusively. So I was pretty surprised to hear her say that her “parents” raised her well, I kind of thought her dad was majorly abusive.

      • PS says:

        Kaiser, I think she looks like True Blue/Who’s That Girl -era Madonna with that hair, not Like A Virgin-era, which is funny if you think that it was the SeanPenn-era too…

    • blue marie says:

      that’s what I’ve always thought, maybe she thought we forgot? or she’s trying to re-write her history.

      • Badirene says:

        Maybe she is trying to rationalize the violence in her childhood because she is now dating a rage-aholic and is trying to excuse his past violence. My gut is telling me that it will not end well between them.

      • Hiddles forever says:


        I agree with what you said.. It is fairly common to downplay abuse suffered previously when… Well to justify somebody else’s abusive behaviour… Hmmm… That speaks trouble…


        Yes that is strange…. That is one of the few things I always remembered about her…

      • Christin says:

        I wonder if the history is being softened now. There are two sides to every story, and in this case one party (her father) was never able to give his version.

      • illandri says:

        You should read the interview in its entirety. The excerpt makes a little more sense after doing so. 🙂

      • mayamae says:

        It really bothers me when celebrities attempt to re-write history. I remember watching an interview with Liv Tyler in which she talks about Steven Tyler teaching her to brush her teeth. Since she didn’t even meet him until she was older, I found it ridiculous.

        I’ve never liked Charlize, but enjoy some of her acting. She has a coldness about her and lack of vulnerability. I’m irrationally bothered by the fact that she speaks in a generic American accent even while not acting. I understand it would get tiresome being constantly questioned about her father. Rather than talking about her childhood as almost idyllic, I wish she would just refuse upfront to talk about it. She does her mother no favors every time she comments on it.

    • Dinah says:

      That’s interesting, because I dropped in to say there must be some deep faults in her to pick Penn as a partner and pseudo father- figure for her child, jesus. Leopards just don’t change their spots (or maybe I should have said a snake can shed its skin, but it’s still a snake).

    • aenflex says:

      My thoughts exactly

    • FingerBinger says:

      Do any of you actually read the article or just the highlights on here? It’s very helpful when you actually read the comment in context.

  2. LadyJane says:

    As a mother of 3 girls – I am interested in what she means about being raised without the concept of being pretty. I really try very hard to place looks at the bottom of the list of values for my girls – but they do watch tv and read books. Even in the most innocent of fairy tales, the princess is always a beauty. So while I really admire and want to emulate the experience Charlize had growing up – I wonder how fully true the phrase rings “‘Oh, you’re pretty,’ I was like, I don’t even know what that concept means.” Every girl knows what it is to want to be pretty. For better or worse, that is the world we live in.

    • Esmom says:

      Yeah, that didn’t ring true to me either. I find it a bit hard to believe she didn’t know on some level — and got reinforcement from people close to her — that her looks were exceptional or she wouldn’t have pursued a career where looks matter a ton.

      • PS says:

        maybe she didn’t need to hear it because it was so obvious ?

      • Jen says:

        Well when she was younger she had a disease that made her teeth rot (I think).

      • mayamae says:

        I don’t believe her. She headed straight into an industry based solely on good looks. Every time she opens her mouth, I like her even less.

    • SpookySpooks says:

      It seems to me that women who are beautiful tend to say they are not or were not aware of it.
      Maybe lack of beauty is more noticable growing up.

      • Sighs says:

        Maybe it’s just more of a given when you grow up beautiful. I think non-beautiful people are more painfully aware of their shortcomings.
        Err… I think that’s exactly what you were trying to say spooky…. Brain not in full gear yet…

      • Chiara says:

        I know! It makes me so angry when beautiful people minimize beauty. Like when Robin Wright recently said she wouldn’t get a face lift. Hello girl, it’s obvious you DON’T NEED a face lift, saying that looking down from the hight of your bone structure and cheekbone perfection is like mocking on people who really could use it.

    • Chiara says:

      well I found this and now I think maybe she didn’t felt pretty as a child ALL the time

    • aenflex says:

      I had a book when I was younger, and it was just simply amazing. Called The Ugly Princess.

  3. merski says:

    Huh?! I don’t see her as Libby Day at all. Weird casting.

    • MrsBPitt says:

      I know….I wonder if they will dye her hair red…and wasn’t Libby supposed to be really small (read the book, quite a while ago) ? Like Ellen Page small…

      • merski says:

        Ooooh, Ellen Page. That would have been great casting….

      • Chiara says:

        Ellen Page would have been perfect as Libby. Theron doesn’t fit at all, but you know, she’s the producer, she chose herself as the lead.

    • MollyB says:

      How old was Libby again? Isn’t Charlize about ten years too old to play her? Ellen Page would have been amazing in that role.

    • Mandy says:

      She would be amazing as the lead from sharp objects, perfect in fact. But Libby? No way.

  4. allons-y alonso says:

    tacky photoshoot is tacky!

    • Rice says:

      You’re so right about the tackiness. Maybe I’m just too lazy to look it up, but how did Uncle Terry get so popular in the first place? I’ve never looked at his photos and thought, “Wow, that’s great photography”. Instead, I see the same black and white, provocative, almost erotic, boring photos. And this was before I even knew about his sleazy nature.

      • Dani2 says:

        It’s by Terry? I thought it looked a little budget, makes sense now.

      • Rice says:

        Kaiser wrote that in the first paragraph. Plus, I mean, look at the shots. They’re the same sleazy, black & white cheap-looking crap that he puts out every…time.

  5. Wanda says:

    I’m confused she credits BOTH her parents with giving her self worth. One would think seeing her father abuse her mom would lower her self worth as a woman……

    Anyway that whole situation was really confusing and shifty, so I don’t think it’s appropriate to ask Charlize about it. It’s between her father and her mother.

  6. samanthalous says:

    I find it so easy for someone so “pretty” to tell others not to focus on being pretty. Does she tell herself “I am not pretty” when she looks in the mirror? Maybe someone told her “you would be so pretty if you just took off your glasses” (school photo). Even when she was younger she was never unattractive. I am sure she used her looks at some point in her life and it’s not just her raw talent that got her where she is today.

    • Chiara says:

      rumor is that she slept her way to the top…like many other pretty actresses. Lots of casting couch, but of course a base of talent there is, not Meryl Streep talent, but she can act. but there’s plenty of talented pretty girls trying to make it in Hollywood, it’s just there’s no place for all of them…just those who are willing to play the game make it

      • FingerBinger says:

        *Sigh* Why does everyone always believe the rumors about actresses sleeping their way to the top? Why are people so quick to believe that a woman can only achieve success by being on her back?

  7. Mich says:

    What is the world is she blathering about in that interview? I can tell you right now that South Africa very much judges its girls on how attractive they are. Particularly the Afrikaans community. This was even more true when she was growing up.

    All the droning on about being single? The nonsense about her lucky childhood that had ‘problems’ just like every family situation? Way to be a strong female voice there, Charlize.

  8. Gwen says:

    I really, really don’t understand what’s going on with her at this point. I mean, it’s honestly quite confusing. Sheshot her father for beating up her mother right? And she’s dating a man who’s been to prison for beating people up and who beat up his wife. There’s a lot of whitewashing going on, I feel. And shut about the whole looks-doesn’t-matter Charlize. You’re a model – it’s SO easy for you to say so when you fit into the definition of beautiful.

    • Nicolette says:

      Her Mom shot her Dad in self defense, he was abusive. Agree that she should hush up about looks not mattering. I bet she wouldn’t feel that way if she woke up tomorrow no longer looking the way she does.

  9. paola says:

    Since she’s started dating Sean Penn i find her annoying beyond limit. She is always trying to sound so hard core with the ‘I don’t give a f*ck’ attitude’ but I don’t really buy it.

    • Hiddles forever says:

      And posing for sleazy Terry is not making her less annoying… Quite the opposite…

  10. Chris says:

    Poor ol Sean Penn cops another wack. I don’t know why people always overlook his humanitarian work.

  11. Ashley says:

    She looks like Debbie Harry in that last photo.

  12. Chiara says:

    More than Madonna I think she’s dangerously starts to look like Meg Ryan: she’s still young to the botox and fillers she’s clearly doing. Stop because they make you look older!
    I think she’s trying to re-write her past, by saying that is not that a big deal that your mother killed your abusive father is just a sign that she still has to deal with it, it’s not cheap psychology but a sincere wish that she founds peace without trying to twist her past to make herself look cooler.

    • FingerBinger says:

      First of all of all Charlize looks nothing like Meg Ryan. Meg Ryan did a complete overhaul of her face,including the duck lips. Second of all, she’s not trying to rewrite her past. Where does she say it’s not a “big deal” that her mother killed her abusive father? How is she trying to make herself look “cooler”? Clearly you don’t understand that she doesn’t want the rest of her life defined by that moment.

  13. Phenix says:

    What is this about no comedies? She was great in arrested development.

    • manta says:

      And in Young Adults too. Not strictly a comedy but it had its share of funny, comedic scenes and she was very good in them.

  14. Jen says:

    Wait, did her mother re-marry? Or is she talking about her biological father when she mentions “parents”? The abusive one that her mom killed? o_O

  15. harpreet says:

    I mentioned this yesterday, but the fact she is friends with Handler (whose book title is Uganda be Kidding Me) , condones (rather supports) Seth’s boob song at the Oscars makes me distrustful of her.

    I mean, you’d think Chelsea’s tweets would have provoked some reaction in her (as an African, son to a black son).

    • Renee says:


      Thank you for mentioning this again. I am not being sarcastic either. I don’t see why she gets a pass for this, or Sandra Bullock for that matter.

      I was reading comments on a story that was from last week and one of the posters commented that she was the child of a transracial adoption and that parents needed to be aware of things such as racism when they weren’t the same race or ethnicity as their child. That kind of stuff can really screw a person up and mess with their sense of self-worth…

  16. Suzy from Ontario says:

    Kind of strange remarking on her childhood and both parents in light of her mother killing her alcoholic abusive father. Plus, as to the beauty comment, her beauty is what got her started…she won a modelling contract at age 16

  17. bcgirl says:

    what a bunch of BS.
    “I don’t even know what that concept means”
    puhleez, we’re not all as dumb as you gf
    she sucks

    • Camille (The Original) says:


    • Shannon1972 says:

      I’m failing to see the difference between this remark by Charlize, and the remarks Amber Heard made about her looks in the post today about her W shoot. Except perhaps that Charlize is being both disingenuous and tone-deaf, while Amber is simply stone-deaf. Both of them know they are beautiful…remarks like Charlize’s are actually more annoying to me. It’s not important? You don’t know what it means? Where on earth is that true?
      The only thing that separates us all is what is considered beautiful in your part of the world. But admiring beauty is universal, and those born with beauty (or these days, purchased it) have distinct life advantages. Why women feel the need to downplay this truth escapes me, since no one actually believes it when they do. IMO, it’s a form of arrogance.

  18. Maggie says:

    I think the photos are incredible! She looks so beautiful. I get the impression looks weren’t important to her growing up. Her focus was on other things that were. Perhaps she found it frivolous to put weight on appearance. I know ppl like that.

  19. candy corn says:

    Maybe Charlize worked through her past with therapy and is now just concentrating on the positive. It does ring a little weird but what does the public know? And just because the world thinks she’s beautiful now doesn’t mean it did when she was a kid.

  20. Amanada says:

    A lot of people come off really jealous and bitter on here.

    Just because Charlize started off modeling, doesn’t mean that she grew up with those values of her being prided for her looks being shoved at her. I don’t think she is being facetious. She grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere in the early 80’s in apartheid SA. She went to boarding school for a bit, then came home to father’s craziness and then the incident happened when she was 15. Suffice to say, she had more important things to ponder then her beauty-and when she was young she wasn’t as pretty as she is today. THen she came to American by herself knowing not a single person and got to where she is today.

    Also, her father became an alcoholic later on in life because of financial issues and society frowning on divorce so he was unhappy in marriage. Growing up he might not have been abusive, so Charlize could be talking about the last two years before she left SA being formative.

    • joan says:

      Thanks for some clarity in the midst of confusion and snarkiness! You’re right about the dynamics of a family like this.

      And you’re right that there’s a lot of jealousy on this site, of her and also of Clooney’s fiancee.

      Some people just aren’t equipped to talk about someone who’s accomplished anything, so they try to cut her down to size and accuse her of the same flaws as their vapid starlets. They don’t have knowledge so they resort to snark.

      • FingerBinger says:

        Some of the comments were uncalled for. It was kind of obvious no one actually read the article,they only read the highlights. If they had actually read the piece Charlize’s comments would make a little more sense.

  21. kc says:

    I get it – an abusive alcoholic parent is not the only trait that a person has. I have known some alcoholics, and they can be the kindest, gentlest people. An aspect of who they are is the bully and ragey alcoholic. Her parents may have both taught her love, kindness, giving, compassion, empathy and compromise. My grandfather is an alcoholic, and has been for 65 years. When he is sober, my grandmother is giddy, in love and so very happy because my grandfather treats her with kindness, thoughtfulness and attention. I could not have made the same choices she did in staying with him (especially since she was the breadwinner and raised 5 children), but I did not experience her life as she did, so I try to respect her decision, but not visit when my grandfather is drinking. I cannot imagine growing up in a home that has such extreme personalities, but I understand that as you age, you are able to see that there is a continuum of behaviour, and that you can take lessons from the lives lived around you without seeing black and white.

    As for focusing on pretty, she never said that she never felt pretty, but that she doesn’t understand the articulation and emphasis on that as a trait. I am raising 2 daughters, and I never comment on looks. I will make comments about their friends’ compassion, thoughtfulness, maturity, ability to laugh easily, helpfulness etc. And I will, as often as I can, speak to how unique a person is, and how much I admire them for being an individual. So I do get the statement that there isn’t a focus on beauty.

  22. Camille (The Original) says:

    After her going off about the GF diet, I think she’s a raging a**hole (some people have to be on it + wheat isn’t good for us anyway..). Her and Penn probably have a lot more in common than we realize.

  23. NN says:

    Did anyone watch her when she was on Ellen and kept referring to her son as “THE baby” (this was when he still was a baby). It was so weird and uncomfortable to watch…

  24. meggles says:

    I find it very disturbing that Charlize’s adopted TWO YEAR OLD, no longer needs so much of her attention. He has things to do and so forth. Now I know why he looks so terrified every time I see them photographed together.