Everyone's favorite South African actress Charlize Theron has shown vast range in her 20+ year career. The intense, crazed action of "Mad Max: Fury Road" the foul-mouthed slacker in "Young Adult," the ditzy blonde on "Arrested Development," and the literal "Monster" she won an Oscar for all sit side by side on her resume. Theron's new film "Tully" opening Friday finds her in a role she's never tackled before, a modern mom in way over her head. So it is we chart Theron's growth as an actress and producer in a timeline stretching back to her earliest work.
Modeling and Dancing Years
Theron got her start as a model and a dancer, attending the Joffrey School of Ballet
until a knee injury made her rethink her career in America.
"2 Days in the Valley" (1996)
Theron's first film speaking role was as the sultry Helga Svelgen in the thriller "2 Days in the Valley," where she starred opposite Teri Hatcher, Jeff Daniels, James Spader and Danny Aiello.
"The Devil's Advocate" (1997)
Theron had a string of larger projects in the late '90s where would-be blockbusters alternated with smaller-scale fare. Films in this period inlcude "The Devil's Advocate" opposite Keanu Reeves; Woody Allen's "Celebrity"; "The Cider House Rules"; and "Reindeer Games" opposite Ben Affleck.
"The Italian Job" (2003)
One of Theron's first major action star roles was in "The Italian Job," a remake of the 1969 heist caper also starring Mark Wahlberg. Along the way she helped to make Mini Coopers cool again.
Theron went under a complete transformation to play Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute turned serial killer. She produced the film through her company Denver & Delilah and won the Best Actress Oscar for her work.
"North Country" (2005)
In Niki Caro's drama about one of the first sexual harassment cases in the United States, Theron earned another Oscar nomination playing a woman who leaves her abusive husband and takes a job working in a mine.
"Arrested Development" (2005)
Theron guest-starred during the third season of the cult sitcom "Arrested Development" as Rita, a love interest to Michael Bluth. The arc toys with the idea that she might be a British spy investigating the Bluths, until it's revealed that she's actually an idiot with the attention span of a toddler.
"Aeon Flux" (2006)
Theron played an exotic and mysterious assassin in this live-action take on the 1990s Mtv cartoon. It didn't become a franchise, but it cemented Theron as a capable action star.
Theron starred in her first superhero movie in 2008 alongside Will Smith in "Hancock." The Peter Berg-directed film cast Theron as a housewife who, as it turns out, is actually a millennia-old being of incredible power with a mysterious agenda of her own.
"Young Adult" (2011)
After a hiatus of three years, Theron took a radically different role as foul-mouthed slacker Mavis Gary, who tries to relive her glory days and hook up with her high school sweetheart after going through a tough breakup.
"A Million Ways to Die in the West" (2014)
Theron had a big comedy stint around 2014, hosting "SNL" and starring in Seth MacFarlane's "A Million Ways to Die In the West." She and MacFarlane have been close since then, and he even got her to guest star on his new show "The Orville" in a role very much like a classic "Star Trek" villain.
Warner Bros. Pictures
"Mad Max: Fury Road" (2015)
The continuation of the "Mad Max" trilogy turned out to be a bait and switch, as the film's real star was Theron as Imperator Furiosa. With one arm, a shaved head and absolute intensity, she anchored one of the best action movies of the decade.
"Mindhunter" and "Girlboss" (2017)
Denver & Delilah expanded into TV with two Netflix shows that Theron Executive Produced, "Mindhunter" and "Girlboss."
"Atomic Blonde" (2017)
Theron took another punishing role as something of a female John Wick in the stylized action movie "Atomic Blonde," even doing all of her own stunts
in the film.
"Tully" reunites Theron with her "Young Adult" director and writing combo Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody. In it, she plays a mother of three in way over her head, who forms a bond with her millennial nanny. Theron gained 50 pounds
for the role.