Charlize Theron enjoys being a sweatpants-wearing, school bus-chasing mom
LOS ANGELES—It’s almost hard to imagine Charlize Theron—one of Hollywood’s red carpet fashion goddesses—in sweatshirt and pants, walking with her kids, like any harried parent, to the school bus stop. But that’s what the actress claims is her early morning routine these days.
That’s why the mom role of Marlo in director Jason Reitman’s comedy-drama, “Tully,” resonates with the Oscar and Golden Globe winning actress.
In Jason’s latest winning collaboration with writer Diablo Cody, the statuesque South African plays a mother of three, including a newborn, who is gifted a night nanny, Tully (Mackenzie Davis), by her rich brother (Mark Duplass). Marlo is hesitant at first to accept the offer but she soon forms a unique bond with the wise, sexy, mysterious and sometimes challenging Tully that impacts the household, which includes her husband (Ron Livingston).
No sweats for Charlize in this interview. She was dressed in a printed blouse and black skirt. But she appeared to be really enjoying her life these days as a doting mother to her adopted kids, son Jackson and daughter August. Charlize said she’s raising them in Los Angeles with the help of an “incredible village,” which includes her friends and of course, her mom Gerda, whom she is very close to.
What is your morning routine with your children like? My mornings are crazy because my oldest now takes the bus to school. He’s very independent. But it means that I have to get two kids ready before ten to seven. So every morning at 5:45, that alarm goes off and I just want to hang myself. It’s sweatpants, a sweatshirt and Birkenstocks and sometimes I don’t even get time to brush my teeth. I am just getting them ready and trying to get breakfast and lunchboxes.
At 7:30, I am done with all my drop-offs. I live for it, I love it. I love that I go to bed at 8:45 in the evening and I am exhausted. I wake up with my children and I get to hang with them in the morning.
How patient are you? I always say that is the thing that comes to me in spades since being a parent because I don’t think I was that patient before. I never allowed myself to be that patient with strangers. But now I am like, oh I have these little creatures and I have to be patient. They do push you because they just don’t quite know what that barrier is and they will go with it.
I have incredible support—I call them “my village.” The kids have these incredible men and women in their lives. Some of them are my best friends. And then I also have my Tully, which is my mom.
There are days when they show up at my door. Those people are so important to me because I don’t think you can be a great mother without taking those breaks and having people in your life knowing you need those breaks. Nobody can do it all the time, or do it well all the time.
How do you cope with lack of sleep? I am terrible without sleep. I ended up with my two kids in my bed last night. One was horribly sick. I am on the corner with no blanket and I am freezing. I was coming out of the bathroom as I was leaving and I see these two little bodies and I was like, I am so blessed. But I will probably say something really stupid today because I slept for four hours only.
So when you read this movie’s script, what resonated with you as a mom? It came to me through Jason Reitman. I ran into him and he said, “I have our next project.” I love working with him so much that I said, “OK.” I think he said it was the story of a mom having her third kid and that was it. I knew there would be something interesting there. But I would be honest. I wasn’t like, oh, that sounds amazing. I was like, OK.
Then when I read it, I realized that Diablo did something with the material that you think this feels like a subject matter that feels familiar but she really presented it on the page as something that wasn’t familiar. That is what resonated with me. It felt really honest and truthful. I related not just through my own experiences but through my other friends who had kids and what they experienced.
I thought it was funny and that it was a story that wasn’t just for parents. That’s what I liked about it, too. It feels like a stand-alone movie and not just for a specific audience. It feels like something that anybody can enjoy because there’s a lot of comedy, hardship and pain.
How has your relationship to fashion changed since you became a mom? What’s it like when your kids watch you get ready for a premiere or an event? It’s actually really fun because they love dress up. The racks of clothes come in and I have videos of them walking in the heels and there’s a lot of commentary about wearing the beads or not wearing the beads, and being fully honest. I feel like it’s second nature to them. When hair and makeup people show up at the house, they want to play with everything.
Outside of that, it’s just impossible to not have it be easy. So I start my day off in sweats. I don’t really know what that looks like but it’s like pretty ’80s sweat gear for the bus stop. The parents know me like that (laughs). Then I go home and work out.
I have always been a t-shirt and jeans girl. I have never been somebody who likes to wear complicated clothes in my real life. Even less now that I have kids.
Do you bring the kids to South Africa and teach them Afrikaans? Yeah, they go all the time. We travel back a lot because of Ctaop or the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project that I have there. They know South Africa (Afrikaans language) really well and they love it. My mom and I speak it but I think it’s different when you don’t have it in your environment. It’s just too little (exposure to the language) for them.
What about your dating life? How has it changed? With both of my kids, in the first two years, I had absolutely no interest in dating. It wasn’t a struggle. It was like my chemistry, body and mind just wanted to go to this place where I was 100 percent satisfied being a mom. And then it changes after that.
My little one is going to be 3 soon. In the last year, it’s a little bit more like, oh, OK, now I am not dealing with diapers anymore. I am not dealing with wipes anymore. Dating is not necessarily at the forefront of my life. I am so happy. My friends sometimes make dating feel almost like work rather than something that I would actually enjoy. Also, I attempt to date guys that are just a lot of work (laughs). So I think I have to change that before I start dating again. I have to change my taste.
Who do you feel understands you? A lot of people. I feel very lucky and blessed to have friends that I consider my family. I only have my mom as far as blood-related family goes but I feel so lucky that I have somebody like her. Our relationship is ridiculously close. It’s quality and not quantity.
I have a small group of friends who are really my sisters and my family. They have been around in my life up to 20 years and have taken on roles in my children’s lives as aunts. And that is how our family runs. We are super close.
How do you see yourself? How would you describe yourself? I live my authentic self. I don’t really compartmentalize what exactly that is. Maybe I should. When I was very young, it became very clear through some tragedies in my life that life is really short. At the end of the day when I am on my death bed, however or whenever it happens, I am only going to have myself to hold accountable for the life that I led.
I always make decisions not on what I think other people think. I don’t think happiness for me comes from that. But now that I am a parent, that always comes up in the foreground, like, is this a good decision for us as a family? I have always been a person who wakes up in the morning, who has an attitude that this could be over today. My beliefs are that this is not a dress rehearsal. This is it. So I want to make the most out of it. All of that. And (I am) super sexy (laughs).
E-mail the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.
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