South African-born Charlize Theron has had an incredibly varied career as an actress and model, rising to fame in the late 1990s before winning an Oscar for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster.
In the late 1990s she starred in Woody Allen's Celebrity, as well as The Devil's Advocate, Mighty Joe Young and The Cider House Rules. Since winning the Oscar in 2003, Theron has been in much demand, with roles in projects as diverse as North County and Hancock.
She was most recently seen in Jason Reitman's comedy Young Adult as Mavis Gary, the thirty-something writer who returns to her hometown to try and restart the relationship with her high-school sweetheart, despite his wife and child.
Theron plays Vickers in Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi, Prometheus. Vickers is a "suit" representing the interests of the mega-corporation funding the Prometheus' journey to a distant, foreboding world.
From the film's set at Pinewood Studios, she introduces the film.
How would you introduce the story of Prometheus?
Oh god, you're trying to get me in trouble! I think we can say that this is an independent sci-fi film Ridley is doing with the DNA of ALIEN, but it really is a film that stands on its own. It's the story of all those great questions that we don't really have the answers to: Where do we come from? And is what we believe in safe? Do we still believe it in the face of evidence that proves otherwise?
How much Alien DNA do you think survives into Prometheus?
I think it's up for people to make the connection. I think that what's great about it is you don't have to be an Alien fan to go and watch this, and I think people who are fans, all those nerds will be like, “Wow, I get it!” [laughs] But I think that it really is a film and a story that stands on its own.
You've worked in sci-fi a bit in the past, do you love the genre?
Well, I've done one film, and that was it! I just did Aeon Flux in my fifteen-year career span. But I do love the genre and I think for me good storytelling surpasses any genre. I believe in good storytelling more than any specific kind of genre. That's what I like about working with Ridley Scott, because he's a filmmaker who's really driven by story and people's motivations and really asking real questions. To me, that's really the core of the story.
Ridley redefined the genre with Alien and Blade Runner. Can we expect the same of Prometheus?
Absolutely. He's one of the greats and I think that when he tackled the genre back in the day, he brought a lot of original thinking to it, and he's very comfortable in the genre. I think people are going to be really satisfied by what he's doing with this. The story's great and really lends itself to all of his skills. The characters are really great and they really carry the heart of the story. That as a combination is really what you're looking for. I think the tendency nowadays with big budgets and with sci-fi is to make giant sets and spectacular and there be nothing at the core of it. I think this kind of storytelling has to drive all of that big show-off things that these kind of sci-fi movies have.
Ridley's a precise director, what has been the experience of working with him?
It's incredible. It's why I wanted to do this film, because for me as an actor he was that director that I went through my career going, “If I ever get the chance to work with Ridley Scott I would grab it in a heartbeat.” He's really the reason why I wanted to be involved and he's one of very few great, great directors out there where you look and his body of work and you can't help but wonder what the experience would be of working with him. He's done nothing but surpassed what I thought this experience would be. He's very much an actor's director. He loves actors and he's very in-tune with them and how they work. And he has great instincts. He has a great sense of exploration, which is really fantastic. There's no one-way, there are several ways and he wants to explore them all. It's a constant peeling back of layers, which for an actor is really just fantastic.
Who is Vickers?
She works for the Weyland Corporation, which is funding this mission. And so she's kind of given herself this role of corporate suit who shows up and doesn't necessarily care about putting anybody, especially herself, in danger. She's very much driven in the beginning of the story by the power she has because she works for the corporation, and trying to kind of control everybody to have them do what she wants done. She's a bit of an enigma; you don't quite understand what her emotions truly are. In the beginning you really do think it's just corporate need. But it being a Ridley Scott film, there's a lot more there that doesn't really come to the surface until the end of the second and the beginning of the third act. She's revealed towards the end of the film and it's a really nice reveal. It's a nice surprise in the film.
How do the crew treat her?
They certainly take a dislike to her right from the beginning, because they're there to do something that's incredibly difficult and she isn't necessarily making things easy for them. She throws a lot of red tape around and has a bit of a power trip which gets in the way of these very passionate scientists who are really in it to try and discover something that hasn't been discovered before. And also she doesn't really take shit from anybody. [laughs] She's not necessarily there to make friends. She's a very, very isolated character.
How much do you think about the film's themes when you're on set?
I don't think that I can talk about it! That's really kind of giving stuff away. I think all the characters in this story have to come to a realisation once they're faced with reality and the facts of what they actually find and see. They all have to question their belief before of who they are and where they come from, whether there's a religious base to those thoughts or a scientific one. They all have to question them towards the end of the film.
Interview by Joe Utichi - www.joeutichi.com
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