Charlize Theron scene

Charlize Theron is, arguably, one of the most accomplished stars in Hollywood today. In fact, only a handful of stars had come close to everything that the South African-born actress/producer has accomplished in just a few short years – from winning an Oscar to starring in box office hit franchises (Fast and the Furious and more recently, the Marvel Cinematic Universe).

By now, everyone knows that there is nothing that Theron can’t do. Despite all her awards, nominations, and critical acclaim, however, she still seems to be under the impression that she’s not as well-known in the industry as some may believe. Theron is even convinced that her popularity doesn’t come close to reality star Kim Kardashian.

Following Her Oscar Win For Monster, Charlize Theron Became An A-Lister

Theron didn’t rise to fame by chance. She had to work for it from the start. At 16, she left her native South Africa for Hollywood in the hopes of becoming a successful model.

Instead, however, Theron became an actress, landing a small role in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest before starring in 90s hits such as That Thing You Do!, The Cider House Rules, Mighty Joe Young, and of course, The Devil’s Advocate with Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino.

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She may have been getting consistent work, but Theron wasn’t exactly standing out. That all changed when she was approached for Monster. Written and directed by Patty Jenkins, the film tells the true story of Daytona Beach prostitute Aileen Wuornos who becomes a serial killer.

“My manager sent it to me and said, ‘I really love this script—it’s an independent, just read it for about 20 pages—you have to look at it,’” Theron recalled.

“When I was reading it, I didn’t even know it was based on a real person. It was only after I loved the script and I called [my manager] J.J. and said ‘I really like this’ that she said, ‘Well, maybe you should check out this Nick Broomfield documentary [Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer]’.”

Since then, the actress was convinced she had to play Wuornos (even if it meant going through an arduous physical transformation). At the same time, Theron also took it upon herself to produce Jenkins’ first feature, putting up her production company, Denver & Delilah, in 2003 as they worked on the movie.

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“She really signed on as producer because I think that she knew, as did I, that there is a long hard road for a movie like this,” Jenkins said of Theron.

“And [the movie] can get pushed and pulled in all kinds of different directions. So instead of being this … overlord as producer … she really just put herself in a position where she could really defend what it was we wanted to do. And fight for it.”

In the end, Theron also won her first Oscar and became a Hollywood star. “Monster was definitely a moment in my career where I realized the opportunity that I was given was a chance to show that I was capable of more, and it did change my career,” the actress also told Entertainment Tonight.

Charlize Theron Thinks Her Fame Is Not ‘At A Kim Kardashian Level’

To be clear, Theron is well aware that she is a Hollywood star and lately, so do her kids. “Their friends are asking things like, ‘Is your mom in a Marvel movie?’” the actress said.

“They’ll see billboards of me sometimes, or we’re going through the airport and there’s a J’adore ad.” (Theron has been the face of Christian Dior’s J’adore for more than a decade now.)

And while a single film transformed her career and shot her to fame in the past, Theron is under the impression that something like that won’t happen to her again. In some ways, the actress believes that she’s already peaked, as far as fame goes.

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“I feel like I’m at a place where it is what it is. Working more isn’t, I think, going to change my level of fame,” Theron said. “It just has always been a mediocre ride. I’ve never been one of those people that’s at a Kim Kardashian level. But I feel like it’s just always been this thing.”

Despite everything she’s accomplished over the years, Theron also revealed that her influence seems to be waning lately. “I will say, back in the day, it used to be like, you want to have some of this fame so you can go make the s*** that you really want to make,” the actress said.

“But now it’s like, I pitch s*** all day long and people are like, ‘No, thanks.’ I’m like, ‘I guess that’s not cash in the bank anymore.’ And that’s nice. It’s nice that you’re making things on the merit of how good they are versus this idea of, like, ‘Oh, you’re this thing, and we want to be in business with that thing.’”

That said, there are more important things on Theron’s mind than fame. At the end of the day, the actress only cares about what matters to her kids. “When my kids say, ‘Mom, nobody makes pasta better than you,’ nothing gets close to that,” the actress said.

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