Charlize Theron: ‘Monster’ Backers Wanted a ‘Hot Lesbian Movie’ with Christina Ricci

Theron won an Academy Award for her turn as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Patty Jenkins' first feature in part because she denied looking "fuckable" onscreen.
MONSTER, Christina Ricci, Charlize Theron, 2003, (c) Newmarket Releasing/courtesy Everett Collection
©Newmarket Releasing/Courtesy Everett Collection

Charlize Theron had to slay a bad idea for “Monster.”

Theron won an Oscar for her portrayal of Florida sex worker turned serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Patty Jenkins’ 2003 feature debut, but the film’s financiers apparently had a very different movie in mind instead of Theron’s gritty, no holds-barred approach to the role.

Theron told Harper’s Bazaar that some “Monster” financiers wanted “a hot lesbian movie with me and Christina Ricci,” far from what the film ended up being. Ricci played Wuornos’ semi-fictionalized lover, Selby Wall.

Theron founded her production company Denver & Delilah in part to protect director Jenkins’ vision and also have control over her makeup and wardrobe. Theron’s drastic transformation into murderer Wuornos earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress, with Theron going on to produce critically acclaimed “Bombshell” and “Mindhunter” among other projects.

“There’s a natural fight in me to want to create environments that feel like the things that I wish I had 30 years ago when I started,” Theron said. “Having absolutely no control over what you’re wearing is a big one that really fucking annoyed me for years. Having some guy make you have a fitting almost in front of them—stuff like that, it’s really belittling.”

The “Old Guard” actress continued, “When I started, there was no conversation around it. It was like, ‘This is what you’re wearing.’ And I remember one movie in particular, this male director who just kept bringing me in, fitting after fitting after fitting after…And it was just so obvious that it was to do with my sexuality and how fuckable they could make me in the movie. And when I started out, that was just kind of the norm.”

“Monster” director Jenkins previously told IndieWire that she was “pretty confident that it would never get made,” let alone win an Oscar.

“It’s rare that a character film is easy to fund, but it can get financed,” Jenkins said at the time. “I have a real pet peeve for women who play damaged characters but don’t look damaged.”

And to Jenkins, Theron was the only actress for the role. “She is so beautiful in a way that she does not have to protect her beauty,” Jenkins said. “Few would have the bravery to walk this line and to bring humanity to it — [she is] the only person I ever wanted to be in the movie.”

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