After six years of planning and a whole lot of five-hour workouts, Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde hits theaters this weekend. And with fight scenes that are equal parts exciting and terrifying, the Oscar winner has secured her place as a bona fide action star—with the super-skills to match.
“Nothing scares her,” AJ Dix, who helped produce the film, tells the New York Times, citing the bruised ribs, wrenched knee, and cracked teeth she got during filming. Not even Jean-Claude Van Damme can hold a roundhouse kick—er, candle—to Theron, says Atomic Blonde director David Leitch.
“She didn’t have a martial arts background, and went in at ground zero. She had the will to want to be great right off the bat.”
“She’s trained as hard as he’s ever trained,” he says. “She didn’t have a martial arts background, and went in at ground zero. She had the will to want to be great right off the bat.”
But Theron isn’t just a beast on set. She’s got a tough-as-nails attitude IRL, too—one that’s definitely worth embracing.
Read on for 3 times that Theron inspired us all to live like a real-life action hero. (Academy Award sold separately.)
When she said that deep down, every woman is a badass
“I guess it’s because deep down inside, I actually believe that’s what we are,” Theron tells Refinery29 about playing fierce (and sometimes scary) characters like Aileen Wuornos in Monster, Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, or Ravenna in Snow White and the Huntsman. “We are more capable than we are often portrayed in movies to be. And we’re not necessarily given the right amount of credit for being that capable. So I try really hard to make my roles reflect the way I believe we really are.”
When she said she wants to set a good example for her kids—and sometimes that means driving them crazy
“I’m going to hopefully live my life in a way where my life will be enough for them to learn by example,” Theron says. “I’m also always driving in the car with them and telling them they can be anything. But I think in the long run, the things that stick with children are how the people around them live. I hope that my children can one day look at my work, my philanthropy, and the things I stood for and realize it wasn’t just me in the car telling them that they could be anything and annoying the shit out of them.”
When she said she’s not afraid of anything—including her rough childhood
At 15, Theron’s mom killed her father in an act of self defense. “I survived that, and I’m proud of that,” Theron tells The New York Times. “I am not fearful of the darkness. If anything, I am intrigued by it, because I think it explains human nature and people better.”
If you’re thinking of doing a crash course in martial arts, why not enlist your girl group a la Michelle Obama? (Girl time and your workout taken care of.) Another way to flex those empowerment muscles: Hit the trails with a backpack and your squad.