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Oprah: You were born in 1975. When I look at you, I think, This is what 30 looks like now. What does 30 feel like for you?

Charlize: It definitely feels like a different chapter. In my 20s, I felt I had to be doing something every moment. For years I'd had vivid dreams that I would die at 27.

Oprah: Where did the dreams come from?

Charlize: I have no idea. But at 28, I just relaxed. A weight lifted from my shoulders. I didn't feel as if the clock were ticking, like I had to run and do all these things. When you experience the death of others when you're young—and I did—you're aware of that clock.

Oprah: Are you talking about your father's death?

Charlize: Yes. Not just my dad, but uncles, friends. Funerals were a normal thing.

Oprah: Just the other day, somebody said to me, "Are you going to ask Charlize about her father?" And I said, "When something like that happens, you move on after ten or 20 years."

Charlize: Exactly.

Oprah: You obviously didn't let that define your life.

Charlize: God, no.

Oprah: A lot of people would have.

Charlize: It's not that something like that doesn't scar you. But scars can heal. The way my father died was traumatic. I would wish for nothing more in my life than for it not to have happened the way it did. But I can't change that. In my late 20s, I hated talking about it because telling the story made me seem like the victim. Then I realized that if that's not how I carry the experience, then talking about it doesn't matter.

Oprah: That's right. I think the world is divided into doers and waiters. Obviously, you're a doer. You moved to Hollywood with just $400. What made you do that?

Charlize: You know what? It was just plain, simple, young, stupid naiveté.

Oprah: I would have thought, "Where am I going to work? Where am I going to live? How will I eat?" Did you know anyone in Los Angeles?

Charlize: Nobody. Not a soul. But I was living such a gypsy life. So if this didn't work, it would be just another adventure for me in a new place. I'd been modeling all over Europe—Milan, Paris, London. Before I left South Africa, my whole theory was this: If everything falls apart, then at least I got to see the world.

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