Charlize Theron on Shooting Death-Defying Stunts, Learning to Talk Like Megyn Kelly, and Why She Doesn’t Want to Live Forever

Oscar-winning actress returns to the Stern Show ahead of her new Netflix action film “The Old Guard”

June 22, 2020

Charlize Theron returned to the Stern Show on Monday, connecting with Howard from her home a few weeks before the release of her eagerly anticipated action film “The Old Guard.” The 44-year-old movie star, producer, and mother of two wasn’t afraid to get candid about everything from her love for reality television to how she felt after losing out on an Oscar earlier this year. She also offered insight into her life during quarantine and revealed her parenting style quickly evolved after the onset of the pandemic.

“I was like, listen, ‘If I’m going to have to do laundry and clean this house up, then you two little fuckers are going to help out,’” Charlize told Howard on Monday morning with a laugh.

“They went to cleaning camp,” she continued. “I have so many adorable videos of my kids Hoovering the house. It’s really, really cute … This has been a really important time in their lives, I think.”

“Are you a good mother?” Howard asked her.

“I think so,” she responded. “It’s the thing that I work the hardest at. It’s the thing that I put all of my energy into. It’s the one thing I don’t give myself a break on.”

Even so, Charlize realized she couldn’t do everything. She told Howard she gets her children to the bus stop on time, but unlike some other A-list celebrities she isn’t always ready to walk the runway when she gets there.

“I saw a photo of Gwen Stefani and it was her saying goodbye at the bus stop to her son and she was beautiful … she was just gorgeous and she was wearing these cute little boots and the makeup and the shades and she was just hugging her son. Next to her there was a photo of me in sweatpants, but with the label still hanging out on the outside.”

“I look at that and part of me goes, ‘People must know we’re just regular fucking people trying to make the bus, right?’” she continued.

“I’m all about how can you just get through life as energy efficient as possible,” she later added “You’re never going to see a photo of me at the bus stop with the cute boots and red lips.”

Howard recently saw images of Charlize shopping in a mask and was curious how she felt about the paparazzi tracking and photographing her every move—even when she’s just stocking up on quarantine essentials at the grocery store.

“It’s almost like this weird thing like they’re going to wait for you to pull your Velcro suit off—like your stripper suit—and just rip it off and do a show,” she said with a laugh. “It’s fucking horrible. No, I don’t like it. It’s stupid … I’m going shopping. What should you fucking care?”

“Listen, I always say this, you put it in perspective, you have a laugh about it, but you know it is what it is,” she continued.

It’s not just photos the paparazzi are after. They’re also always on the hunt for celebrity gossip, especially when romance is involved. Charlize herself is no stranger to having her love life written about in tabloids and during her conversation with Howard she didn’t shy away from setting the record straight. A few years back, she famously dated actor and recent Stern Show guest Sean Penn. On Monday, she revealed the two never seriously considered marriage.

“We dated. That is literally all we did,” she said. “We were definitely exclusive, but it was for barely a year. We never moved in.”

“I’ve never wanted to get married. That’s never been something that’s important to me,” she added.

Charlize told Howard she’s single right now. Considering how someone as accomplished and beautiful as her would likely have her pick of suitors, Howard couldn’t help but wonder why.

“I have never been lonely. I have never felt alone,” she told him, explaining she gets all the love she needs from her children. At this point in her life and career, she has difficultly even imaging cohabitation. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to live with somebody again. To be totally frank, they might have to buy the house next to me,” she said.

As much as she enjoys being set up on blind dates, romance has taken a backseat both to parenting and Charlize’s incredible Hollywood career. In addition to producing hit TV shows like “Mindhunter” and “Hyperdrive,” she remains one of the most celebrated actresses on the planet. Not only does she have Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “The Old Guard” arriving in a few weeks, but she just recently finished promoting “Bombshell.” Theron scored an Oscar nomination for portraying news anchor Megyn Kelly in the critically acclaimed drama which centered around the sexual harassment scandal at Fox News.

Howard thought it was a mind-blowing performance. “You’d have to watch like thousands of hours of Megyn Kelly just to get it down, right?” he asked.

“The challenge was her voice more than anything … Her sound was, you know, that was like the biggest thing to me,” she said, explaining she worked so hard to get the voice right she eventually strained a vocal cord. “Some days are a lot harder than other days. Somedays you just can’t find it and it’s demoralizing.”

Thankfully, Charlize had an “incredible” voice coach to help her through tough times. At one point, the coach left her an inspirational note which the actress later framed. “I had a really, really bad day where I could not find the sound and the depth and the cadence—I couldn’t find anything … She left this note on my table and it says … ‘Your inner outer-Megyn Kelly is still there, just around the fucking corner,’” she said while holding up the note for Howard.

Ultimately, the Oscar went to “Judy” star Renée Zellweger. Howard wondered if Charlize wanted to stand up and scream after losing.

“It’s never felt that way to me,” she said. “I guess there’s a part of me that always feels like somebody is going to walk up to me and be like, ‘Big mistake. You weren’t invited, so can you please get back in your car?’”

“I just wanted people to go see it. Like, we were so proud of it. Listen, I’m like a jaded bitch with a lot of things, but with that, for some reason, I’ve always had a good sense of being like really super grateful,” she continued.

“Bombshell” is an emotionally wrought drama based on a true story whereas “The Old Guard” is an action extravaganza about immortal warriors who must save the planet from unspeakable evils. Howard wondered if it was hard for Charlize to change gears so quickly.

If anything, it’s just the opposite. “I get bored really easily,” she said. “My career has always kind of been a back and forth.”

“It just came at the perfect time,” she continued. “I like the physical challenge of these movies and I felt like … I’ve been sitting at the desk trying to sound like Megyn Kelly for the last four months. It would be nice to go and fight train with, you know, all of my old buddies from ‘Atomic Blonde’ and Keanu’s trainers and just fucking kick ass.”

Howard certainly enjoys Charlize’s action movies, but considering she was nearly paralyzed during a stunt gone wrong while shooting her 2005 film “Aeon Flux,” he wondered why she’d keep putting herself in harm’s way.

“I hurt myself actually pretty bad on that,” Charlize told Howard, explaining the filmmakers tried to make her as flexible and supple as the anime character she was portraying. “I have three months. I’m not going to be able to smell my own asshole in a backbend. It’s not going to happen, so let’s find something that I can do,” she continued. “I have no business doing back handsprings. I’m not a gymnast and you’re not going to learn that in three months.”

“It’s all about having the right team,” Charlize said, explaining she now knows enough to work with choreographers and filmmakers who build sequences that highlight her own skills. “You don’t need a stunt person to come in and do something, you create it to be something that you can do and that’s what makes it fun.”

She grew up watching action films but told Howard she was always frustrated by how poorly actresses were utilized in many of those roles. Thankfully, the landscape has evolved. “It makes me feel good about just knowing that we’ve changed that industry as a whole. I feel like the genre has definitely had a facelift and I feel like women have been a huge part of that.”

“We don’t want to fucking fight like men, we want to fight like we would fight,” she added.

Charlize worked with Daniel Hernandez in “The Old Guard,” a veteran fight coordinator who famously trained Keanu Reeves to wield guns in “John Wick.” The actress has no real-life love for firearms, but as an action star she believes it’s her duty to learn how to convincingly handle them.

“It’s a job, man. People are going to sit down for two hours and watch you, put a little effort,” she told Howard at one point.

Charlize said she trains at the same firing range as Keanu, among others. “It’s a small, insular world,” she explained of Hollywood’s action community.

That doesn’t mean she’s fond of everyone in it, however. Charlize recently watched YouTube clips of former movie and reality TV star Steven Seagal fighting in Japan, and she didn’t mince words when describing both him and the clips.

“I have no problem talking shit about him because he’s not very nice to women, so fuck you,” Charlize said of Seagal, who in recent years was accused of rape and sexual assault. “He’s overweight and can barely fight … look it up, it’s ridiculous,” she continued. “He’s shoving people by the face. It’s a whole setup.”

When she gets some free time from shooting action flicks, Charlize said she enjoys kicking back and watching TV, particularly reality televison. Much like Howard, she enjoys shows like “The Bachelor,” “Real Housewives,” and “My 600-lb Life.”

“I love observing people in their natural habitat,” she said. “People who are like fully aware, consensual … and you get to watch that? There’s no better television than that.”

Howard and Charlize don’t see eye to eye on everything, however. In “The Old Guard,” she plays a fierce immortal warrior. Howard told her one of the reasons why he enjoyed the movie is because he too wants to live forever, but Charlize said she thought immortality sounded awful.

“Out with the old, in with the new, baby,” she told him, explaining she wouldn’t want to live long enough watching everyone she cares about die.

While Charlize didn’t say whether the next project she embraces would involve heart-pounding action, heart-wrenching drama, or something altogether different, it’s safe to assume she will inevitably pick something that forces her to push herself to the limit.

“There’s definitely a switch in my brain. Something that says, ‘If you can’t go and do it all out, just don’t touch it. Don’t fucking touch it. Don’t do it,’” she said of how she picks projects, adding, “You’re either in the gym five hours a day, changing your body and obsessively learning a fight skill, or you’re sitting at a table with a voice record and listening to some other woman’s voice for five hours a day.”

“It’s such a weird job that we have but I fucking love it. I love it,” Charlize concluded.

Watch Charlize Theron in “The Old Guard,” arriving July 10 on Netflix.