The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
President skids, from a bicycle and at Cannes
Theron loves to get under the skin

Cannes, May 23 (Reuters): For Charlize Theron, playing real people is the ultimate challenge — she loves getting under their skin on screen.

Her portrayal of a serial killer in Monster won Theron an Oscar. Now plaudits are flowing for her role as Swedish starlet Britt Ekland in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.

“Emotionally I tapped into their stories,” Theron said after the biopic about the troubled British comic was screened at the Cannes film festival. “It would be pretty impossible to play someone’s story which doesn’t affect you.”

The tall, glamorous 28-year-old ex-model transformed herself to play Florida serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, putting on 14 kg on a couch potato diet of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

To play Ekland, off came the weight and the years so she could be transformed into a 21-year-old sex symbol. “Wuornos’ story really affected me and so did Britt’s,” said Theron after her back-to-back real life roles.

So what was it like to be beautiful again for the actress who left the small South African town of Benoni as a teenager to pursue her dream of stardom'

Theron said: “It’s not really about that for me. When I read Aileen’s story, I didn’t know what she looked like. I just tapped into that story, into her emotions. It was only afterwards that I saw footage of what she looked like. It’s not like I say send me the pretty scripts and next year I’ll do the ugly scripts. It is the emotional journey that counts.”

In the Sellers biopic she stars opposite Australian actor Geoffrey Rush. He plays the tortured comic genius who treated his wives, family and film directors with equal disdain and sudden outbursts of unprovoked cruelty.

And the fragility of Ekland, married at a tender age to a mercurial star at the height of his fame, appealed to Theron. “I thought that period of her life was something for any woman to dread. You know, you fall madly in love with somebody and yet they cannot get over their problems and so the relationship has to end.”

And Theron must have done something right. After initially being opposed to the casting, Ekland joined Theron in Cannes for the film’s premiere.

Wreathed in smiles, they walked together up the famous red carpet and then sat down for what must have been a surreal evening — watching a life being relived on screen.

Email This Page