Charlize Theron is opening up about the night her alcoholic father was shot and killed by her mother in an act of self-defense.
The South African actress was 15-year-old when she witnessed her mother, Gerda, shoot and kill her father, Charles. No charges were filed in his killing. Charlize, 41, has spoken about growing up with her father’s addiction, but now, in a new interview with Howard Stern, the “Atomic Blonde” star says she really didn’t know how to react that the time.
“I just pretended like it didn’t happen. I didn’t tell anybody – I didn’t want to tell anybody,” she says. “Whenever anybody asked me, I said my dad died in a car accident. Who wants to tell that story? Nobody wants to tell that story.”
Theron admits she worried about the way people would react to the terrible event.
“They don’t know how to respond to that. And I didn’t want to feel like a victim,” she says. “I struggled with that for many years until I actually started therapy.”
The Oscar-winning actress reveals starting therapy in her late 20s wasn’t an easy fix for her, but eventually learned it wasn’t her father’s death that had traumatized her. “I thought I did great. It turned out, I was actually okay about [her father’s death],” Theron says, explaining that growing up with an unpredictable addict as a father was far more traumatizing than his eventual violent death.
“I think what more affected me for my adult life that happened in my childhood was more the every day living of a child living in the house with an alcoholic and waking up not knowing what was going to happen,” she says, candidly. “And not knowing how my day was going to go and all of it dependent on somebody else and whether he was not going to drink or drink.”
Theron says she took inspiration in dealing with her past from her mother who never sought therapy for the traumatic events. “Her philosophy was ‘This is horrible. Acknowledge that this is horrible. Now make a choice. Will this define you? Are you going to sink or are you going to swim?’ That was it,” she adds.
Now, more than 26 years after his death, Theron says both she and her mother have moved past the tragic night.
“I think both of us have dealt with that night really well. I think both of us still have to deal with the life that we had – and that’s what people don’t really realize. It’s not just about what happened one night,” she concludes.