This month, she stars as the elegant, hyper-adroit secretary of state Charlotte Field running for president (opposite Seth Rogan's weed-loving lefty Brooklyn journalist, Fred Flarsky) in Long Shot.
Theron, 43, was nervous about taking the part. “When you do something that’s outside your wheelhouse, you naturally function from a place of fear a little bit,” she explains. “And Seth is a very confident writer, actor and director. He steps into the space with so much confidence that it’s intimidating. But he is also so available, and I realised that I could fully trust him.”
That trust translates on screen: Long Shot is a sharp, fearless, big-hearted, gut-bustlingly funny political valentine of a movie.
Theron prepared for the rom-com in the same way she prepares for a thriller: obsessively. “I’m on a job right now and I’m obsessive about the martial arts I’m learning. I get up at 4am to do it. I lie in bed at night thinking about the different hand positions. Obsessing is good for me … but I do struggle with a bit of OCD, so I have to organise things that I can see: closets, drawers. That’s to do with when I feel that things I can't see are out of control. “
“I didn’t discover therapy until my mid-30s,” she continues. “My reasons for going had a lot to do with South Africa and uncertainty and living with an alcoholic every day [when Theron was 15, her mother, Gerda Jacoba Aletta Maritz, shot and killed her abusive alcoholic father after he threatened the two of them with a gun]. What I discovered was my life was an all-encompassing thing. It showed me I can see the big picture and understand the reason to get to a place where I could create a life for my own kids.”
In 2012, Theron adopted a child, Jackson (she recently confirmed that “Jacks”, now seven, identifies as a girl), followed a few years later by August, or “Auggie” (four), and she talks about motherhood with undisguised joy. “I love being a mum,” she says. “By the time I had kids, I was really ready. I’m in bed at 7:45 every night now, and I love it because I’ve lived. If I die tomorrow, I’m at peace with who I am in my life.”
Read the full interview in the June issue of marie claire, out Thursday.
Long Shot is in cinemas now.