POSTED June 8 2012

Charlize Theron, the burning cold of dry ice

Legend has it that Lana Turner was discovered at a Hollywood fountain sipping an ice cream float. And for much of her screen career she played double-dip vanilla blondes. Legend also has it that Charlize Theron was discovered at a Hollywood bank engaged in a pitched battle with the teller who refused to cash her check. Thus far in her career the  streamlined blonde has played many a woman with a Gibraltar-scaled chip on shoulder. And not just in her Oscar-winning role as Monster‘s cold-blooded killer Aileen Wuornos.

This season alone sees Theron as the icy Ravenna, Evil Queen in Snow White and the Huntsman, and as that human glacier Meredith Vickers, starship commander, in Prometheus, a creature so unsmiling and unemotional that a crew member asks whether she’s a robot, a line that triggered an explosion of laughter at the screening I saw. It made me think that in an earlier generation she would have been billed as The Woman You Love To Hate and beat Bette Davis out for her unsympathetic  roles in Jezebel, The Little Foxes and The Letter.

Collecting my thoughts about Theron. Though she is one of the screen’s great beauties,  in movie after movie she alternately uses her slim, dancer’s body as armor against the depredations of men or as a Venus Flytrap to ensnare would-be ensnarers, going boldly where no actress has gone before. When was the last time she smiled onscreen? Was it as the doomed free spirit in the remake of Sweet November? As Britt Eklund in the Peter Sellers biopic on TV a few years back? I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actor of either gender who cared less about drawing the audience in, who generated the burning cold of dry ice. Your thoughts? Favorite performance? I’m going with Hancock.



  1. Excellent piece. Love her. She and Sam Spruell were the best things (the only good things, really) about Snow White. Can’t wait to see her in Prometheus.

  2. Talkcineman says:

    She’s the emblem of Drop Dead. I get that all the time, so it’s okay from where I sit.

    Actually, Michael Fassbender and Charlize, the bot & bot-alike of Prometheus, do more to carry the enterprise than do Noomi Rapace and the rest of the crew, I think. Noomi’s oddity doesn’t work trying to carry this kind of film; Charlize’s hostility does.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please prove you\'re not a robot: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.