Academy Award-winning actor Charlize Theron addressed a wide range of topics during her conversation with filmmaker Karan Johar at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2023. From how her dreams of becoming a dancer were crushed due to an injury, to finding work in Hollywood as an outsider, to all the philanthropic work she does for her community, Charlize responded to each of Karan’s questions from the heart. (Also read: ‘I am not a fan of cancel culture’: Charlize Theron talks about ‘room for mistakes’ at HTLS 2023)
Charlize was asked about her being an ‘outsider’ in Hollywood and the challenges that came with it. Charlize decided to become an actor when an injury to her knee put a pause on her dancing dreams. “I had a weird naive confidence,” Charlize said about her initial days in Hollywood as an outsider. “I had no skill but I had that,” she added. She said that her South African accent was the biggest problem and also how she had not much idea about acting.
Karan gave his own example of how on the first day of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai shoot, his mother asked him if he even knew where to place the camera.
Then, talking about her hit 1997 film The Devil’s Advocate, Charlize talked about how while the film got her many great reviews, it didn’t translate into a lot of work. She said she was still being offered ‘girlfriend or wives’ roles that did not interest her. The Devil’s Advocate also starred Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino.
Charlize also talked about cancel culture and said that she wasn’t a fan. “I am not a fan of cancel culture. When we don’t allow some kind of space for mistakes to happen… I always think about when I was in my 20 and all the mistakes I made…I think there is no room for that anymore. We are so scared. I have two girls of my own. One is 11 years old and I tell her ‘you cannot forget that what you are doing is not in pencil. You will not be able to erase it when you are 30, 20 or looking for a job. It’s written in ink,” Charlize said. She added that she wishes she could tell her daughters not to be scared of making mistakes.
Charlize spoke about her two adopted daughters and bonded with Karan over how he is also a single parent to twins born through surrogacy. Karan said that his daughter Roohi asks him whose belly she was born from. Karan tells her that she was born from ‘Dadda’s heart’. Charlize said that that was exactly what she also tells her daughter. She called Karan her ‘favourite person right now’ for how much in common she has with him as a single parent.
Charlize Theron also advises women to ‘just ask’ for equal pay. She gave the example of Snow White and Huntsmen where she was paid equal to Chris Hemsworth. She accepted that she is ‘on a completely different boat’ from other actors who don’t have the luxury to say no to a project because they are not getting equal pay. “But if I can say something about it, I would want that for my daughters. I am not like Jane Fonda, out there, but I want to (address) how there are so many actresses who will never ever get the oppotunities that I got. The bottomline is we do the same job, we should get the same pay as men,” she said.