Charlize Theron Opens Up About The Night Her Mother Shot Her Father


Charlize Theron Opens Up About The Night Her Mother Shot Her Father

Life may be good for Charlize Theron right now, but it wasn't always that way. The Oscar-winning actress recently sat down for an interview with NPR and opened up about the traumatic event that changed her life.

The South African-born star shared details about the night her mother, Gerda, shot and killed her father, Charles.  

On June 1991, when Charlize was 15 years old, her alcoholic father came home while extremely intoxicated and wielding a gun.

"My father was so drunk that he shouldn’t have been able to walk when he came into the house with a gun,” Charlize told NPR. She explained that she and her mom locked themselves in her bedroom to avoid getting shot.  

"My mom and I were in my bedroom leaning against the door because he was trying to push through the door. So both of us were leaning against the door from the inside to have him not be able to push through. He took a step back and just shot through the door three times.”

None of the bullets hit Charlize or Gerda, something that the now 44-year-old actress can only describe as a "miracle."

As the danger escalated, Gerda stepped up to protect her daughter. She managed to grab the gun from Charles and fired at him. The shot was fatal.

“But in self-defense, she ended the threat,” Charlize said. Gerda was never charged.

Charlize also discussed what it was like to live with an addict.

"I only knew him [Charles] one way, and that was as an alcoholic," she said. “It was a pretty hopeless situation. Our family was just kind of stuck in it. And the day-to-day unpredictability of living with an addict is the thing that you sit with and have kind of embedded in your body for the rest of your life, more than just this one event of what happened one night."

She continued, “I think our family was an incredibly unhealthy one. And all of it, I think, scarred us in a way. Of course, I wish what happened that night would have never happened. It’s unfortunately what happens when you don’t get to the root of these issues."

The Bombshell actress, who previously shied away from talking about her childhood, says she is no longer ashamed of sharing her story.

“I’m not ashamed to talk about it, because I do think that the more we talk about these things, the more we realize we are not alone in any of it,” she added. “I think, for me, it’s just always been that this story is about growing up with addicts and what that does to a person."

In a previous interview with The New York Times, Charlize said she does not see herself as a victim and it's all thanks to one of her mother's philosophies.

"Her philosophy was, 'This is horrible. Acknowledge that this is horrible. Now make a choice. Will this define you? Are you going to sink or are you going to swim?' That was it."

Shortly after her father's death, Charlize and Gerda moved out of South Africa. They eventually ended up in the United States, where Charlize began her career as a model and actress.

Charlize is now a mother to two daughters, Jackson, 7, and August, 3.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the toll-free,  24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or visit

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.