Charlize Theron has always been a straight shooter. The Hollywood veteran has never shied away from sharing her truth, no matter how painful it gets. In conversation with NPR, the Bombshell actress got real about her personal life, discussing everything from the trauma of growing up in apartheid-era South Africa to her own disturbing experience with workplace sexual abuse. She also opened up about her tumultuous childhood, specifically the violent domestic abuse that she and her mother suffered at the hands of her alcoholic father.
“My father was a very sick man,” Theron said. “My father was an alcoholic all my life. I only knew him one way, and that was as an alcoholic...It was a pretty hopeless situation.”
The end of her painful family dynamic occurred one fateful night when her father, belligerently drunk and armed with a gun, fired three shots at his wife and child in his inebriated state. “My mom and I were in my bedroom leaning against the door, because he was trying to push through the door. So both of us were leaning against the door from the inside to have him not be able to push through. He took a step back and just shot through the door three times. None of those bullets ever hit us, which is just a miracle. But in self-defense, she ended the threat.”
Even decades removed from the events of that night, Theron is still scarred from the memory of her father’s death and the desperation her mother felt to protect them. Though the story is harrowing, she isn't ashamed to share it with the world — Theron believes that it will make a difference for those going through similar situations.
"This family violence, this kind of violence that happens within the family, is something that I share with a lot of people," she continued in the interview. "I'm not ashamed to talk about it, because I do think that the more we talk about these things, the more we realize we are not alone in any of it. I think, for me, it's just always been that this story really is about growing up with addicts and what that does to a person."
Theron also hopes that her role in Bombshell will stir up a similar sense of solidarity among victims of sexual abuse. The actress, who herself is also a survivor, plays former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly in the upcoming political drama; along with TV host Gretchen Karlson (Nicole Kidman) and fictional journalist Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie), Kelly helped bring down the network's CEO Roger Ailes for alleged sexual harassment. Through the film, Theron wants to portray the nuances of abuse that aren't always as obvious.
"It's not always physical assault. It's not always rape," she told NPR. "There's a psychological damage that happens for women in the everyday casualness of language, touch or threat — threat of losing your job. Those are things I've definitely encountered."
Bombshell is currently playing in theaters, and its lead actress is dedicated to continuing to speak truth to power, on and offscreen.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 for confidential support.