Charlize grew up as the only child on her parents' farm near Johannesburg and was sent to a boarding school at the age of 13. At the age of 15, Charlize witnessed the death of her father, Charles Theron. He was an abusive alcoholic and her mother, Gerda Theron, shot him in self defense when he attacked her. No charges were pressed.
At the age of 16 she traveled to Milan, Italy on a one-year modelling contract after winning a local modelling competition. Her modelling contract ended while she was in New York City. She decided to remain in New York City and attended the school of the Joffrey Ballet in New York. She trained as a ballet dancer and danced in both Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. A knee injury ended her dancing career at the age of 18.
Unable to dance and almost penniless, she bought a ticket to Los Angeles. After eight months in the city she got her first part, a non-speaking role in the B-film Children of the Corn III.
In December 7, 2003 respected film critic Roger Ebert said Theron's performance in Monster was one of the greatest performances in the history of film. She won Best Actress at the 76th Academy Awards in February 2004, as well as the SAG Award and the Golden Globe Award. She is the first South African to win the Best Actress Academy Award.
On September 30, 2005 she received her own bronze star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Theron is the current spokeswoman for Dior perfume and resides in Los Angeles with her long-term boyfriend Stuart Townsend. She recently revealed that she had surgery on a herniated cervical disc in her neck, while filming a movie in Berlin, Germany.