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“I am just so blown away, I have never had anything like this,” actress Charlize Theron effused as she accepted the American Cinematheque Award at the end of a long and raucous celebration of her career on Friday night at the Beverly Hilton.
Less than a week after receiving a career achievement tribute at the Hollywood Film Awards and just days before being feted at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards, the 44-year-old South African — a best actress Oscar winner for 2003’s Monster who is currently generating significant Oscar heat again for her portrayal of Megyn Kelly in the upcoming Lionsgate release Bombshell — was alternately roasted and toasted by collaborators including Bombshell director Jay Roach, Seth MacFarlane, David Oyelowo, Kristen Stewart, Patton Oswalt, Jason Reitman, Seth Rogen and, via video, Tom Hanks, Patty Jenkins and Bombshell co-stars Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie.
The annual gala, in its 33rd year, is a fundraiser for the American Cinematheque, a non-profit organization that provides crucial support to two historic movie theaters in the area: the 97-year-old Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, which it owns, programs and operates; and the 79-year-old Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, which it programs.
Early in the evening, AMC Theatres chief Adam Aron accepted the American Cinematheque’s Sid Grauman Award on behalf of his operation, which will turn 100 in 2020, and, he emphasized, “is absolutely committed to giving a luxurious theatrical experience to the masses.”
Then it was Theron’s turn. Flanked at a central table by her mother, Gerda, and projected onto a jumbotron while a packed ballroom watched, the actress looked on as MacFarlane, a close friend, joked that she “is proof that, at long last, African-Americans are thriving” and suggested that “‘Charlize’ sounds like a brand of champagne enjoyed by rednecks in Florida.” Faking a reference to Monster, he said, “Charlize played a monster who committed unspeakable acts… Megyn Kelly.” And, he cracked in a reference to his 2014 film A Million Ways to Die in the West, as well as the 2019 film Long Shot in which Theron starred opposite Rogen, that Theron has made “a cottage industry” of playing a lover of guys named Seth “who could never land her in real life.”
Oyelowo, who worked with Theron on 2018’s Gringo, spoke about how funny Theron is: “The first thing Charlize ever said to me was, ‘David, what is your opinion about anal bleaching?'” He added, “She is the only person I have ever known who laughed so hard that she pissed herself… she ran out, I looked down at her seat and it was wet.”
Oswalt, with whom Theron starred in the 2011 dark comedy Young Adult, was one of many to reference Theron’s celebrated beauty: “Hot or funny, just pick one! It’s a little greedy. I made a commitment! I gained 40 pounds for Young Adult 20 years before Diablo Cody wrote it!”
Meanwhile, Reitman, who directed her in both Young Adult and Tully, addressed her directly: “You are not only the most fearless actor I’ve ever met in my life, but the most fearless human being I’ve ever met in my life.” And Theron’s Snow White and the Huntsman co-star Kristen Stewart gushed, “This is gonna sound gay as fuck, and by ‘gay’ I mean cool: She made me believe in actual magic when I worked with her.”
Roach said he came to direct Bombshell after reading the script as a favor for Theron — only to be subsequently asked by her to direct it, too. Roach said that at that point he consulted Reitman, who told him to do it — and who, he joked, is now going to regret that advice: “Now that I know how brilliant this woman is, I’m gonna fight like hell” to put her in every film.
Rogen, meanwhile, went to town on his pal. After noting that she likes to stay out late partying, he said, “That pained look that you all think is emotional depth [in her films]? She’s just fucked up from the night before, choking back vomit.” He continued with a non-sequitur, “Reindeer Games is probably the worst movie that Charlize has been in [she nodded in agreement], but is probably the third-best movie that Ben Affleck is in.” And, Rogen noted to laughs, “Honestly, the worst thing that I can say about Charlize is that I am the best person they could get to present to her,” before provoking two middle fingers from the honoree by deadpanning, “Honestly, Charlize, I’ve looked up to you since I was a very, very young… like, a child.”
Rogen then summoned Theron to the stage to collect her statuette, at which point she shot back: “What an asshole!” She joked, “Only one Seth allowed me to talk about my tits on camera, so thanks, MacFarlane.” And, after thanking her Bombshell director, she observed, “Rogen, you know a lot about two things, jays and roaches!” Theron closed, though, with sincerity: “Thank you, American Cinematheque, I’m really overwhelmed.” And, indeed, she appeared to be.
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