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Charlize Theron Recalls Calling Her Doctor After Struggling with Weight Gain for a Role: ‘I Think I’m Dying!’

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Charlize Theron isn’t in her twenties anymore — and she feels it.

In Variety‘s latest cover story, the Oscar winner where she talks about gaining weight for a new role in the comedy-drama Tully and the grueling training she had to go through for Atomic Blonde, out July 21.

Though the 41-year-old had transformed her body for roles in the past — she put on weight for her Oscar-winning turn in 2003’s Monster — Theron admits it’s more difficult now that she’s in her forties.

“It was brutal in every sense,” says Theron, who gained weight to play the mom of a newborn in Tully, which filmed last year. “This time around, I really felt it in my health. The sugar put me in a massive depression. I was sick. I couldn’t lose the weight. I called my doctor and I said, ‘I think I’m dying!’ And he’s like, ‘No, you’re 41. Calm down.’ ”

Newmarket Releasing/Everett
Theron in 2003’s Monster

The actress also pushed her body to the limit while learning some of the tough moves she’d have to do in Atomic Blonde and ended up cracking her teeth from clenching her jaw too hard.

“It happened the first month of training,” Theron says. “I had severe tooth pain, which I never had in my entire life.”

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A visit to the dentist revealed that the actress would have to undergo surgery before filming in Budapest, “having to cut one of the teeth out and root canals,” Theron recalls. “It was tough. You want to be in your best fighting shape, and it’s hard. I had the removal and I had to put a donor bone in there to heal until I came back, and then I had another surgery to put a metal screw in there.”

onathan Prime/Focus Features

The actress admits that she poured herself into training because she had never fought before, even though she was already comfortable with choreographed movement. “I’m coordinated because I was a dancer, and I definitely have movement memory, but I’ve never been a fighter,” she says. “I’m also really tall and a girl. That tends to make you look like you’re Big Bird.”

Kurt Iswarienko

In the film, Theron’s character goes toe-to-toe with costar James McAvoy, and ends up sleeping with The Mummy‘s Sofia Boutella. Theron says she “loved” having the opportunity to play a bisexual character, and help bring a wider representation to cinema.

“I just loved it,” Theron says about the idea. “For so many reasons: My frustration of how that community is represented in cinema, or lack thereof. And also, it made perfect sense. It just suited her. It just felt there was a way through that relationship and the fact that it was a same-sex relationship to show a woman not having to fall in love, which is one of those female tropes. ‘It’s a woman; she better fall in love — otherwise, she’s a whore!’ ”