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Charlize Theron’s “insulting” experience on action movie The Italian Job is a must-read

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Kayleigh Dray
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Charlize Theron at the 2020 Oscars

Charlize Theron has spoken out about how women are treated in Hollywood action movies

Charlize Theron is on a roll at the moment. The critically-acclaimed actor and producer, clearly energised after shutting down those “bullshit” Sean Penn marriage rumours and mispronunciations of her name, has now opened up about the “insulting” experience she was subjected to on her film The Italian Job.

And, in doing so, she’s underlined a big Hollywood problem, too.

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Theron, of course, famously appeared alongside Edward Norton, Jason Statham and Mark Wahlberg in The Italian Job back in 2003.

And, speaking on a Comic-Con@Home panel earlier this week, the actor said: “For sure, The Italian Job was a great experience, in the sense that I realised there was still so much misconception around women in the genre, even though in that film the action is really based on cars.

“We had to physically do a lot of that stuff. The only good thing that came out of that experience was that there was a real pressure to pull off those stunts with the actors.”

Theron, however, went on to explain that there was an “unfair process,” recalling: “I was the only woman with a bunch of guys and I remember vividly getting the schedule in our pre-production and they had scheduled me for six weeks more car training than any of the guys.

“And it was just so insulting.”

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While Theron was insulted by the misconception over her driving skills, Netflix’s The Old Guard star says it “put a real fire under my ass”. 

“I was like ‘alright, you guys want to play this game? Let’s go’. And I made it a point to out drive all of those guys.”

And Theron, who completed a number of impressive driving stunts on the film, did just that.

“It was a huge moment of feeling like ‘yeah, we can do all of that stuff’,” she added. “And women are so unfairly thought of or treated when it comes to the genre.”

Of course, we’ve come a long way since then: over the past few years, we’ve been served up female action stars aplenty in the likes of Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and The Old Guard (the trailer for which can be viewed above).

And Theron acknowledged this in her interview, stressing that both Hollywood and the audience’s perception of female action stars has changed dramatically.

“The good news now is that we’ve kind of changed the genre for women,” she said. “I think there’s great evidence where we now know you can’t hide behind ignorance anymore. Audiences love these films.”

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Theron’s not wrong: indeed, The Old Guard has been steadily trending on Netflix since its release on 10 July.

In it, she plays a centuries-old warrior called Andy, who leads a covert group of tight-knit mercenaries. But when the team is recruited to take on an emergency mission and their extraordinary abilities are suddenly exposed, it’s up to Andy and Nile (KiKi Layne), the newest soldier to join their ranks, to help the group eliminate the threat of those who seek to replicate and monetise their power by any means necessary.

You can find out more about Theron and Layne’s film, as well as all the other movies and TV shows coming to Netflix in August 2020, here.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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