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Charlize Theron is a South African-born actress, best known for her roles in such films as North Country and Monster, for which she won an Academy Award.
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Charlize Theron was born in Benoni, Transvaal Province, South Africa, on August 7, 1975. Theron first began appearing in films in the mid-1990s, establishing herself with roles in The Cider House Rules and The Devil's Advocate. She went on to give an Oscar-winning performance as serial killer Eileen Wuornos in Monster, and well-reviewed performances in North Country and Young Adult.
Actress, philanthropist. Born on August 7, 1975, in rural Benoni, South Africa, to co-owners of a road construction company, Charles and Gerda. The Afrikaans-speaking family lived on a working farm outside of Johannesburg, and although Theron's childhood chores included tending livestock, her passion for dance became evident early on. To foster her artistic leanings, Theron began ballet lessons at age six. Her parents encouraged her burgeoning talent, and by age 12, she was sent to a Johannesburg boarding school to study dance.
The Theron household was an unhappy one, and as Charles struggled with alcoholism, he became physically abusive. In 1991, when Theron was 15, her father violently attacked her and her mother. Theron watched as Gerda shot and killed Charles; the murder was deemed an act of self-defense, and Gerda was never charged with a crime. In the wake of the death, Gerda assumed ownership of the company, and Theron concocted the long-standing story that her father had been the victim of a lethal car accident.
At 16, Theron entered a Johannesburg modeling contest, which she won. She soon traveled to Italy, where she won the International New Model Today competition, and began a modeling career in earnest. After traveling to New York at the age of 18, she left high fashion to attempt a career in dance. Her studies with the Joffrey Ballet were curtailed by severe knee injuries, forcing her to abandon her first calling.
Theron decided to pursue acting instead, and moved to Los Angeles. She soon found, however, that her Afrikaner accent was a barrier in landing speaking roles. Watching hours of television, she strove to hide her South African roots with perfect American inflections.
In 1994, a destitute Theron argued with a bank teller, who refused to allow her to pull funds from a South African account. Theron's subsequent fit earned the attention of a fellow bank patron John Crosby, a Hollywood manager who represented talent including John Hurt and Rene Russo. He immediately offered to sign Theron and, within months, she made her acting debut in a small role in Children of the Corn III (1995). Soon after, larger parts followed in 2 Days in the Valley (1996) and That Thing You Do! (1996).
As Theron became more of a Hollywood presence, she was cast alongside Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves in The Devil's Advocate (1997). Her turn as Reeves' suicidal wife earned her another brief but memorable part in Woody Allen's Celebrity (1998), and a starring role in Disney's remake of Mighty Joe Young (1998).
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