Charlize Theron is speaking out about the addiction and violence that dominated her childhood in hopes of reducing the stigma about abuse among families. The actor spoke to NPR this week and talked about growing up in South Africa, where she witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of addiction.
Theron has previously spoken about her difficult childhood, but in her latest interview, the UN ambassador went into detail about the night her mother fatally shot her father. “My father was a very sick man. My father was an alcoholic all my life. I only knew him one way, and that was as an alcoholic. … It was a pretty hopeless situation,” said Theron. “Our family was just kind of stuck in it. And the day-to-day unpredictability of living with an addict is the thing that you sit with and have kind of embedded in your body for the rest of your life, more than just this one event of what happened one night. I think our family was an incredibly unhealthy one. And all of it, I think, scarred us in a way. Of course, I wish what happened that night would have never happened. It’s unfortunately what happens when you don’t get to the root of these issues.”
Theron said that she remembers the night her father came home so drunk he could barely walk and was holding a gun. She and her mother Gerda leaned against a bedroom door to keep him out, but her father shot through the door three times, amazingly missing both women. Gerda managed to get the gun away from her husband and shot and killed him. “But in self-defense, she ended the threat,” said Theron.
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In sharing her story, Theron said she hopes to make others in similar situations feel less alone. “This family violence, this kind of violence that happens within the family, is something that I share with a lot of people. I’m not ashamed to talk about it, because I do think that the more we talk about these things, the more we realize we are not alone in any of it,” said Theron. “I think, for me, it’s just always been that this story really is about growing up with addicts and what that does to a person.”
Theron is currently promoting her latest film Bombshell, which takes on the real-life story of Fox News anchors Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson, who both accused Fox CEO and Chairman Roger Ailes of sexual misconduct. Theron said that she too has a ‘casting couch’ experience and even named the director in a previous interview. “I openly shared the experience and named him, and the person decided to not write his name. So the story is out, and strangely, when the Harvey Weinstein story broke, I, for the first time ever, Googled the story and the story came up everywhere. It popped up everywhere, and nowhere could you find this guy’s name. And it was incredibly upsetting to me.”
Theron has spoken about the experience since the first interview when she named the director but has declined to name him again, knowing that it would become a headline. “I’m conflicted in the sense that I know that, if I said his name again while I’m promoting this film, that it would take over the importance of this story and that would become the story,” said Theron. “I think there will be a time and a place where I will definitely share this. … I’ve always been honest about it. I don’t have a desire to protect him, but I also don’t want him to overshadow this film right now. So there will be a right time where I will talk about this again, and I will say his name, yes.”