The INSIDER Summary:
- Charlize Theron plays a deadly Cold War-era MI6 spy in “Atomic Blonde.”
- She trained for more than two months before the shoot to get in shape.
- Theron, a former dancer, relied on some of those old instincts.
- She’s using the movie as an example of a badass role for women.
It isn’t easy being an undercover spy. Charlize Theron braved the flu, twisted her knee, bruised her body, and cracked two teeth when she was preparing for her role in “Atomic Blonde.”
At first, Theron thought the tooth pain was a cavity, but her dentist told her she needed an operation.
“I had severe tooth pain, which I never had in my entire life,” Theron told Variety. “Having to cut one of the teeth out and root canals. It was tough.”
In “Atomic Blonde” — which she also produced — Theron plays an MI6 agent investigating the murder of a fellow agent in Berlin during the Cold War and has to take down an espionage ring. If the trailer is any indication, she spends a lot of time beating people up. The movie borrows one of the directors of “John Wick,” and has the same badass, stylized action that was that movie’s signature.
Theron trained for four hours a day for two-and-a-half months before the shoot. On set, she staged many of her own stunts. Theron was a former ballet dancer before she turned to acting in her late teens, and she said that her dancing days helped.
“I’m coordinated because I was a dancer, and I definitely have movement memory,” she told Variety. “But I’ve never been a fighter.”
At five feet and 10 inches tall, Theron was also concerned that her height would make her look awkward in a fight.
“I’m also really tall and a girl,” she said. “That tends to make you look like you’re Big Bird.”
When her tooth broke during training, the timing was particularly tricky. It was shortly before she was supposed to go to Budapest for the 50-day shoot. She ended up having an operation that would keep her teeth temporarily settled, and had a second operation after filming was over.
“I had the removal and I had to put a donor bone in there to heal until I came back, and then I had another surgery to put a metal screw in there,” Theron said.
Theron has long wanted to embody the “strong female hero” archetype, she told Variety. After winning an Oscar for her role in “Monster” with future “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins, Theron played an assassin in the 2005 science fiction film “Æon Flux.” It was a flop, but Theron tried again a few years later with “Snow White and the Huntsmen” and a widely praised performance as Imperator Furiosa in “Max Max: Fury Road.” This year, she stars in both “Atomic Blonde” and as the cyber-terrorist villain in “The Fate of the Furious.”
“Every once in a while, I’ll see a newspaper with a picture of Gal Gadot on the left and Charlize on the right, and I’ll get emotionally confused,” she said. “Those are my girls!”
One way Theron pushed boundaries is by not shying away from showing the damage that the violence in the movie does. Producers, Theron said, don’t normally want to show women bleeding or damaged. She tried to make it more realistic instead.
“A lot of times studios or producers are not comfortable with seeing a woman with bruises,” Theron told Variety. “We really wanted to pay attention to that authenticity.”
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