Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Charlize Theron's Oscar

I think I just figured something out.

Charlize Theron's life is an interesting story. When she was 15, her mother shot and killed her father in an act of self-defense. No charges were ever filled.

In 2004, she won an Academy Award for her starring role in Monster, where she played a serial killer -- a roadside hooker who shot and killed one of her clients in self-defense, and then made a habit of shooting and killing her clients and justifying it as self-defense.

According to an article on Theron's web site, she studied acting with Ivana Chubbuck. Ivana Chubbuck embraces the theories of acting which emphasize drawing on personal traumas, theories which are sometimes derided as "acting as therapy."

Monster is an amazing film, and Theron's performance in it is an amazing performance. But you have to wonder, did Charlize Theron get an Oscar for playing her mother? An acting teacher who emphasizes drawing on personal traumas, an actress whose mother killed her father in self-defense, and a script whose pivotal moment comes when a woman kills a man in self-defense?

Really the only other movie I've seen Charlize Theron in is The Italian Job -- in which she plays a woman who wants revenge for the murder of her father.

I'm a computer programmer, and my other blog -- my programming blog -- has about five times as many entries as this one. But I've studied acting, and I've observed that it's hard. One acting teacher I had said it's all about integrity. You have to really experience the emotions involved to make your performance real. Michael Caine says in his book that it's even harder on screen than on stage, because a camera can catch the slightest twitch of your eyes, and a projector can make that tiny motion eight feet tall. I think what's going on with this actress is, she's picking her roles by asking herself, "what do I need therapy for?" -- and as crazy as that may sound, it's actually very courageous. You need authenticity in front of a camera in that line of work, and if you get it by reference to experiences and emotions that intense, that's remarkably brave.

Monster is a movie with a sad ending, about a messed-up person doing messed-up shit. But there's something inspiring about it anyway. I think it's probably some kind of subconscious awareness -- perhaps subconsciously the viewer can recognize Charlize Theron's courage in what she's doing? I'm not sure.

1 comment:

Vivek said...

Well said, sir, well said. Acting is not as trivial as one would think it to be; au contraire it calls for great skill, skill that only the most gifted of people can lay claim to, and perhaps that is why the greatest stars have also been the most humble ones, for they recognize that their fame is all due to their ability to be natural, to be human.