Charlize Theron says she’s “not ashamed” to discuss her mother’s self-defense driven killing of her father.
The 44-year-old actress told NPR that her father, Charles Theron, threatened her and her mother, Gerda, on a night in June 1991 when she was 15 years old.
“My father was so drunk that he shouldn’t have been able to walk when he came into the house with a gun,” she recalled.
“My mum 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 the bullets ever hit us, which is just a miracle.”
Gerda took no chances and killed her now-deceased husband with her own firearm. Since the shooting was judged as self-defense, she was not charged.
When it comes to revealing the tale, the Oscar winner has no qualms about doing so if it means helping others.
“This family violence, this kind of violence that happens within the family, is something that I share with a lot of people. 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,” Charlize explains. “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.”
She described her father as a “very sick man” who lived in a “very hopeless situation” with an alcoholic.
“I only knew him one way, and that was as an alcoholic,” she said. “It was a pretty hopeless situation. Our family was just kind of stuck in it. And the day-to-day unpredictability of living with an addict is the thing that you sit with and have kind of embedded in your body for the rest of your life, more than just this one event of what happened one night.”
“I think our family was incredibly unhealthy. And all of it, I think, scarred us in a way,” the actress remarked. “Of course, I wish what happened that night would have never happened. It’s unfortunately what happens when you don’t get to the root of these issues.”
In past years, Theron has talked extensively about that frightening night, notably in a 2017 interview with Sirius radio presenter Howard Stern, in which she revealed that she often told folks her father died in a vehicle accident because she didn’t want to share the narrative.
In the same interview with NPR, Theron said she was sexually harassed by a prominent film director when she was a child growing up in apartheid-era South Africa.
She said that after inviting her to audition at his home, the director inappropriately groped her.
She claimed that she was the one who apologized to him before leaving, which irritated her.
“I put a lot of blame on myself… that I didn’t say all the right things, and that I didn’t tell him to take a hike, and that I didn’t do all of those things that we so want to believe we’ll do in those situations.”