The Old Guard Charlize Theron
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Charlize Theron fights for women in action roles during her Comic-Con@Home panel

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Jul 24, 2020, 1:47 PM EDT (Updated)

Action all-star Charlize Theron has been running the best fight scenes in genre since Æon Flux — perfecting the art form in the masterpiece Mad Max: Fury Road and proving she could carry a whole franchise on her own with Atomic Blonde. With her new genre-fueled action film now streaming (The Old Guard on Netflix), Theron spoke on a Comic-Con@Home panel about action films, her career, and the modern female lead.

Atomic Blonde's sequel recently landed at Netflix and, though she's never been asked to be in the MCU, Theron has basically become action cinema's superheroine. She had plenty to say about continuing to dominate the action genre over the years, including shepherding the next generation as a producer.

You can watch the full panel below:

Action films were an early family tradition, according to Theron. "I was raised by a mother who loved Chuck Norris movies and Charles Bronson movies," the actress explained, "and my dad loved the Mad Max films." Before Æon Flux, a not-especially successful film that initially hamstrung Theron's action future (according to the actress), she did The Italian Job — a film with plenty of vehicular action and action done by the actors, but with problems of its own.

"There was a very unfair process that went with that," Theron said. "I was the only woman with a bunch of guys, and remember vividly getting the schedule in our pre-production and they had scheduled me for six weeks more hard training than any of the guys. It was just so insulting. But it was also a thing that put a real fire under my ass and I was like 'All right, you want to play this game? Let's go.' And I made it a point to out-drive all those guys. I vividly remember Mark Wahlberg halfway through one of our training sessions, pulling over and throwing up because he was so nauseous from doing 360s."

Theron, on the other hand, was as skilled at driving in the real world as Furiosa was in Fury Road. "I did a stunt in [The Italian Job] where I do a reverse 360 or maybe 180 in a warehouse with props everywhere — and people — and I did that stunt completely on my own," she said. "It was a huge moment for feeling like 'Yeah, we can do all this stuff and women are so unfairly thought of or treated in genre.'"

Then came overseeing Atomic Blonde's heart-stopping long action takes and Fury Road's incredibly taxing physicality ("I don't think I'll ever recover from the making of that film," Theron quipped), the latter of which has increased meaning for the actress as it hits its five-year anniversary. "I think Furiosa is one of the most important characters I've ever played," Theron said, relating the character to a genre performance especially close to her own heart. "The first time I saw Sigourney Weaver play Ripley, it just changed everything for me. It was like the world opened up and the possibilities were endless."

"If [Furiosa] can, in a small part, do what Ripley did for me as an actress — as a woman — that's something I'm incredibly proud of," Theron said. Theron can recently be seen kicking ass in Netflix’s The Old Guard, available to stream now.

Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of Comic-Con@Home 2020.

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