Charlize Theron is the “it” actress of the moment. This summer comes to the big screen with two movies Prometheus and Snow White and the Hunter where she plays the devil queen who wants to kill Snow White. At 35, Theron confess that her Spanish is very limited, in fact she only knows the dirty words of our language, she learned those words in the set of the movie The Burning Plan that she shot two years ago with the Mexican director Guillermo Arriaga.
Q: Do you feel freer now to play more characters since you won the Oscar?
A: I just feel lucky. I feel lucky to have been given the opportunities that I’ve been given. I don’t know if I ever want to feel free. I mean I feel lucky to have been given the opportunities. I don’t know how else to put that. You know I think the first maybe eight years of my career was what it was because that’s all I was kind of being allowed to do. When you need to work, all bets are off. You have to take the job and try your best to kind of make whatever is there as good as you possibly can, but you can’t really make a rabbit come out of the hat if it’s not there, you know. So I feel very lucky that people like Patty Jenkins have come into my life, and Niki Caro and Jason Reitman and directors who have kind of seen something and said, “Yeah. You know what, here’s an opportunity.”
Q: Do you have to find something good when you have to play someone bad. You played the evil queen. Do you think she has a good side or you just didn’t care?
A: No. I think you’re trying to play human beings and human beings are – I think we’re kind of a melting pot of a lot of things. I mean if anything I’ve discovered and the more kind of conflicting characters that I’ve played. Maybe my greatest lesson in life was to come to the realization that there is no such thing as good or bad. We all kind of are victims of our circumstance. I think the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve been aware of that, the more I understand how easy it is for somebody to sit at the Four Seasons and drink tea and say “I would never do that” until you’re sitting on a freeway and you’ve been homeless for 30 years and been raped. I mean it’s like circumstance of life, you know. Life is who we become and especially in our formative years when we’re young and things like that. I never went into this thinking she’s the evil queen. I wanted to understand how she kind of gets to this place of wanting so desperately to survive in this horrible way.
Q: She is the archetype of the character that looks at the mirror and the reflection she sees she doesn’t like it. Everybody just plays with the mirror saying what this character does.
A: That’s not really the prime focus. We got the fairytale aspect of Mirror Mirror on the Wall which was like “arrrggh” really, really hard. First day of shooting, I was like, “Oh my god, don’t make me do this on my first day.”
Q: What do you think of the reflection when you look at yourself in the mirror?
A: I think I’m like every other woman. It depends on the day, you know. I think this idea that we are somehow different than other women, I’m like every single woman sitting at this table right now.
Q: Why do you think there is a trend now to make films about fairytales?
A: I don’t know. I mean I think there has been – Hollywood has suffered from the one hit recipe but I don’t know. I mean maybe there’s something people are tapping into, maybe you understand bigger themes, and maybe that’s what it is. I haven’t really thought about it that much because I think a good story is a good story no matter what it is. I think when you start getting stuck on genre or ideas of you know, if it’s a good story, it deserves being told.
Q: How is your knowledge of the Spanish Language?
A: Guillermo Arriaga taught me some dirty stuff shutting The Burning Plan. He had a really good friend with him and I was kind of like this little messenger between them. Guillermo's friend Adrian would be like, 'Go to Guillermo and say, blah blah blah.' I'd be the little person rushing over to Guillermo saying the words really loud, and half the crew understood. I was embarrassed at not being able to converse with Guillermo in his native tongue, especially as I convinced him I would learn the language before shooting began.
Q: So you don’t speak Spanish?
A: I'm really embarrassed to say I don't speak Spanish. I've lived in California for ten years and I just think it should be a prerequisite - you should be able to speak Spanish if you live in California. I had this fantasy that I would learn Spanish before I shot the movie with Guillermo that he would be really impressed with me, that he could direct me in Spanish. Of course it never happened. I’m still trying to learn
Q: What are the moments in your own life that feel like a fairytale?
A: Those moments like when you get seven people like one doing your nails, and one doing your makeup and the hair and you get to go to the Oscars or you get to do Dior shoot, those are total princess moments. Are you kidding me? For sure, yeah.
Q: When do you feel comfortable playing a character ?
A: You do it. It’s your job, you got to do it. I mean it’s what I’m trying – well, actually what I’m saying is once I understand what the objective is and then I can do it. It’s when you don’t know what the objective is when you haven’t done the work to understand what the character needs to do. I think that’s when you can’t do it. I think for me, if I understand who I’m playing, what she needs, what she wants, who she is, what she’s scared of, what makes her tick, you know when I understand all of those things and the director and I are on the same page, then that stuff is like living under your skin. You can’t make something happen. That’s when it’s bad. When you can see an actor make something happen, what you’re trying to do is to not do anything but to just be in it. Rupert allowed me to improve which was great. The whole litter slip through your tiny little fingers like all of these belittling things were allowed that I kind of improved because at that moment, that actor had to represent everything that I was long to lose and so that’s what I had to do as an actor. It’s great when the director gives you that and the actor that I get to play with is just amazing.
(c) America Reads Spanish
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