Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron refused to take the easy path to Hollywood success and in the process crafted one of the most successful careers in film history. Born in South Africa, she originally moved with her mother to Milan, Italy to accept a modeling contract when she was 16. She relocated again to the United States to study dance. After an injury derailed her dancing career, she moved again to Los Angeles, and began an acting career. A small role as a lingerie-clad assassin in "2 Days in the Valley" (1996) brought her immediate notice. She was cast by Tom Hanks in "That Thing You Do!" (1997) and in the comedy "Trial and Error" (1997), before progressing quickly into high profile starring roles. Playing opposite Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino, she gained notice in Taylor Hackford's "The Devil's Advocate" (1997), as the possessed wife of Reeves' lawyer. She soon headlined her own film when she was cast as the lead in Disney's remake of "Mighty Joe Young" (1998). She continued working steadily, starring opposite Tobey Maguire in "The Cider House Rules" (1999) and Ben Affleck in the action film "Reindeer Games" (2000), but she began slotting into roles that played upon her fresh-faced beauty. After a role in the well-received action yarn "The Italian Job" (2003), she took a role that completely changed perceptions of her. As serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Patty Jenkins' "Monster" (2003), the actress undertook a transformation that left her almost unrecognizable. She earned critical praise for the role, and took home both an Oscar and a Golden Globe. She followed up with dramatic roles in "Head in the Cloud" (2004) and "North Country" (2005), picking up a second Academy Award nomination for the latter. Despite good reviews the films didn't make quite the same impression as "Monster." Similarly, her work in the effects heavy films "Aeon Flux" (2005) and "Hancock" (2008), with Will Smith, also fell short of expectations. The actress fared better with a brief foray into television with a memorable guest arc on the hit comedy "Arrested Development" (Fox, 2003-06) and appearing as actress Britt Ekland opposite Geoffrey Rush in "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" (HBO, 2004).. She began another upward ascent with a role opposite Viggo Mortensen in the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic drama "The Road" (2009). A fruitful partnership with screenwriter Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman emerged soon after, resulting in the well-received "Young Adult" (2011). The trio would later reform for "Tully" (2018). She also joined Chris Hemsworth for the fantasy adventures "Snow White and the Huntsman" (2012) and "The Huntsman: Winter's War" (2016), playing sinister fairy tale villain Queen Ravenna. Her action bona fides were proven conclusively when she starred in George Miller's "Mad Max: Fury Road" (2015), where she played the road warrior Imperator Furiosa. She followed that with a showy role as special agent Lorraine Broughton in "Atomic Blonde" (2017). The actress also joined one of history's most successful film franchises, playing the villainous Cipher in "The Fate of the Furious" (2017) and "Fast & Furious 9" (2020). Never one to be pigeonholed, she continued working in comedy as well, starring with Seth MacFarlane in "A Million Ways to Die in the West" (2014) and Seth Rogen in the romantic comedy "Longshot" (2019), the latter of which was under the banner of her own production company.