LOS ANGELES—“She calls her son an a–hole. That’s the headline,” said Charlize Theron, who was at her funniest during a recent interview at the Arundel Castle in West Sussex, United Kingdom.
She adopted a baby boy, Jackson, last March. Being a brand-new mom seems to have brought out Charlize’s sardonic humor in full force.
Like a sailor
The actress, who stars as the evil queen in “Snow White and the Huntsman,” was fondly described by the film’s producer, Joe Roth, in an earlier interview as a beauty who talks like a sailor. Asked if she’s more careful with her language now that she has a baby around, Charlize—who won an Oscar and Golden Globe best actress award in 2003 for “Monster”—began her answer by citing “Go the F**k to Sleep,” the best-selling “children’s book for adults.”
She said of the book written by Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Ricardo Cortes: “I had not heard of this book but, for some reason, my friends decided to send a copy to me. I love this book [now] because I’m not a very earnest person. I love that my son thinks I’m the funniest thing ever. Right now, he doesn’t know the difference. I will have to clean up my house of language. But as of right now, I love to read this book to him. I can look at him and call him my little a–hole and he thinks that I love him.”
She added, “I know that in a year, I’m not going to be able to do that so I’m going to enjoy that now. My mom and I are very much aware of it… We catch each other all day. We’re like, ‘We can’t do that anymore. Stop saying that.’ ”
Said Charlize of Mansbach: “But I do love that this writer realized that a lot of parents like me do that (utter profanities), wrote a book, and it’s one of the best… I read it to myself at night.”
Asked what kind of mom she is, Charlize deadpanned: “I just give him some nails to play with.” She was on a roll now. We had never seen her this delightfully loose, in a joking mood throughout the exchange. “Once in a while, I give him a saucer of milk and hopefully, he will be able to feed himself. I hope it goes well. Is that okay? Is that what you do with babies?”
Chuckling again, she reflected on her zany answers: “You are making me sound like the worst parent ever. You will write these stories and sarcasm does not travel well. Everybody thinks I’m a serious actress and they’re going to take these things very seriously… ”
But she pointed out that adoption had always been on her mind. “I’ve always wanted to have kids,” she said. “Always. Even if I was in a relationship or if I had children of my own, I always knew that I wanted to go this route. So this wasn’t like a last resort for me or anything like that.”
Charlize continued: “There’s a lot of time and effort that go into adoption, so it’s not like you wake up one morning and by 4 p.m., you have a baby. It doesn’t happen that way. I knew it would take some time.”
She is obviously enamored with her son, whom she described as a “little slice of heaven on toast.”
Charlize found it amazing that she needs little sleep these days. “That’s probably the biggest surprise because I used to be a lover of sleep. This little boy has made me realize that I actually don’t need much sleep. He just revitalizes you… You sleep for three hours but there’s this excitement in your house. There’s energy, love and this little face. It’s just like 40 coffees and 20 hours of sleep, in a way, when you look into that little face… I’m really impressed with how well I actually function [on little sleep].”
Even in sleep
The 36-year-old actress, who is very close to her mother
Gerda Theron, noted: “My mom took a photo of me sleeping on the plane while I’m holding a bottle for him. I didn’t know she was taking the photo. I looked at it and went, ‘Wow, look at the angle of that bottle. I do that even in my sleep?’ I was very impressed with my skills.”
Admitting that she worries “like every other mother about whether I’ll do it all right,
Charlize said: “You know that I have a very close relationship with my mother. She is the ultimate grandmother. I am not doing this alone. It’s incredible to have someone like her.” She said that she also has the support of friends who are moms, too.
She continued to heap praise on Gerda, with whom she shares a turbulent past in her native South Africa (Gerda reportedly suffered abuse at the hands of her husband, Charles Theron). Being a mother has made her even closer to Gerda. “It’s just so strange,” Charlize pointed out. “I was talking to a friend about this the other day. She has a very close relationship with her mother, too. I was like, it’s so weird, I like my mother so much more. I didn’t know it was possible.”
She quipped: “My friend was like, ‘I want to marry my mother.’ It’s just this strange thing that happens that you can’t explain. I’m incredibly happy.” She said she feels like wanting to “invite everybody on my cloud because this cloud I am floating on is so huge right now. There’s room for everybody… that’s such a blessing.”
The statuesque beauty, who always stuns observers on the red carpet, enjoys being away from show biz and doing chores at home instead. “I’ve always been a Suzy Homemaker,” she revealed. “I love cleaning and cooking. Some people even think I’m obsessive and compulsive about it. But I love that stuff. I like doing my laundry. I like vacuuming… I’ve never been a little princess about that stuff. That’s actually very therapeutic for me.”
In director Rupert Sanders’ take on the “Snow White” fairy tale, Charlize suffuses her evil queen with humanity. She admired her costar Kristen Stewart’s work ethic and attitude. “I have such a crush on that girl,” she said. “I really do. Talent is one thing but I think, in this business, there are a lot of talented people. I’ve never thought like, ‘Oh my God, I am so much more talented.’ It really is about opportunities that are given to you and what you do with those opportunities.
About Kristen, she added: “This is a girl who had massive amounts of success at a very young age. I wouldn’t have even known what I would have done at her age with any of that stuff. She could very easily
just kind of lay back now, realize that she does have a huge fan base, and not want to do anything about it, and that those are the things that are valuable.”
“But the truth of the matter is that she actually loves being an actress. She really loves acting. You can’t fake that. There’s a tenacity and a moxie about her. She shows up ready. She’s ready to spar and she’s excited about pushing the envelope and trying sh-t. She’s alive. It’s like watching someone who’s alive and exactly in the nature of what she should be.”
Playing the queen who gets to utter the famous words about who’s the fairest of them all, Charlize said of her own relationship with the mirror: “I don’t know one person who doesn’t have a conflicted relationship with the mirror. I think we’re all the same when it comes to that. Some days are better than others. It just depends on the night before or the day ahead. I am just like everybody else. I feel really lucky that I was raised by parents who never felt that my value or successes were going to be based on what I looked like. That somehow helped me in my life. I don’t know what I would have been like if I wasn’t raised that way. So I don’t get too hung up on that.”
On her way down the castle’s stairs, Charlize had to slow down midway because Kristen was changing from stilettos into comfortable Converse shoes. Without missing a beat,Charlize jokingly complained, aloud: “Christ, is Kristen Stewart holding us up again?”
E-mail the columnist at email@example.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.