In the film Monster, the tragic narrative of Aileen Wuornos unfolds with devastating clarity as Charlize Theron delivers an exceptional performance that earned her the prestigious Academy Award for Best Actress. Theron’s raw and vulnerable portrayal delves into the life of America’s first known female serial killer.
In a chilling spree of murders that took place in 1989, Wuornos targeted and killed seven men who had solicited her for s*x, thereby defying the conventional narrative of male serial killers preying on unsuspecting women. Wuornos’ troubled upbringing and early involvement in sex work provide insight into the complex factors that contributed to her descent into darkness.
How Did Charlize Theron Land The Lead Role
Charlize Theron’s remarkable portrayal in The Devil’s Advocate, where she embodies a character tormented by demonic forces, is truly exceptional. A particular scene left an indelible impression on Patty Jenkins as she witnessed Theron’s commitment and willingness to delve into raw vulnerability.
Jenkins described a closeup shot of Theron with red eyes, swollen and with tears streaming down her face—an accurate display of emotion. It was at that moment that Jenkins realized Theron possessed the depth and fearlessness required to tackle the complex role of Aileen Wuornos in Monster. Theron’s ability to fully immerse herself in challenging and unglamorous portrayals solidified her as the ideal choice, as confirmed by Jenkins’ conviction upon seeing Theron’s performance alongside Keanu Reeves.
“It was this extreme closeup of Charlize with red eyes, all puffy, and snot coming out of her nose, which is so unvain,” Jenkins told the Toronto Star. “And I just looked at the TV and said, ‘Charlize could do it.'”
Charlize Theron Wasn’t Alone In The Running For The Role
Before Charlize Theron’s awe-inspiring physical transformation to portray Aileen Wuornos became legendary, Patty Jenkins already recognized her immense potential. While other talented actresses like Kate Winslet and Brittany Murphy expressed interest in the role, Jenkins remained steadfast in her conviction to pursue Theron as her ideal choice.
“I said, okay, now you have to get a no from Charlize before I can choose somebody else,” said Jenkins.
As one watches the captivating and tragic chemistry between Theron and Christina Ricci in the film’s final cut, it becomes nearly impossible to envision any other performer imbuing Wuornos with such a poignant blend of vulnerability and a hint of danger. Their on-screen connection elicits profound pathos, leaving an indelible impact on viewers.
Unaware of Charlize Theron’s personal history of childhood trauma at the time, Patty Jenkins had a unique perception that set her apart from others. In Theron’s performance, Jenkins observed a quality that resonated deeply with her, an intangible essence she recognized alone.
Monster is available for streaming on Tubi and Pluto.