Charlize Theron’s cinematic campaigns for Dior’s classic J’Adore fragrance have become almost as iconic as the Oscar winner’s work on the big screen—so much so that they’ve inspired fans to create supercuts of her nearly two decades starring in the glamorous ads. It’s a fact that takes Theron by surprise when I ask if she’s seen any of the fan-made videos on YouTube. (She hasn’t.)
Her latest outing for the maison’s new L’Or de J’Adore perfume, a reinvention of its signature scent, sees Theron once again lensed by Jean Baptiste Mondino—the director who’s famously worked with Madonna, David Bowie, and Lenny Kravitz and who Theron credits as a “consistent voice” in the storytelling of J’Adore. But unlike the ultra-glamorous woman she portrays in the campaigns, Theron herself, she insists, is much more low-maintenance.
This interview was conducted prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike.
This J’Adore campaign feels more casual than in the past. Do you feel like it’s reflective of the current moment in style?
It’s nice to see that women don’t have shame around wearing sweatpants anymore! Twenty years ago, that was considered, like, you’d given up on life. As soon as you pulled out the sweatpants, it was like, poor Susan, she’s done. I love that my girls—I have two, a seven-year-old and an 11-year-old—when we go to dinner with their grandmother and I’m like, “Hey, you guys, put something on”—to them, that’s sweatpants. They make it look so good. And I have sections in my closet that are dedicated to athleisure.
Speaking of your closet, what’s happened to all the looks you’ve worn in the Dior ads? Are you building an archive?
Yes, I am. My kids are the only reason why I am making an effort to keep [the clothes]. I’m lucky to be able to have quite an archive in a very special place. My children are always fighting over what they’re gonna get. Now, every time they see me in a Dior dress, they’re like, who’s getting that one?
I felt like this was something they would appreciate. They get such a kick out of it when the rack shows up and the atelier flies out of Paris—they know [the Christian Dior Haute Couture premiere atelier] and they’re like, “Hongbo Li is here! What’s the dress gonna be like this time?”
So which of your daughters is going to get the Dior Haute Couture look from the Fast X premiere that you wore in Rome?
We’ll see how I feel about them in 10 years. I’ll see who my favorite is, who gives me a hard time [laughs]. It’s gonna be a real negotiating point to try and get them to sort out their lives.
You have The Old Guard 2 coming up. What drew you in to join the sequel?
We had always set out to make a sequel, and our creative development around it was always to set it up in a way where we could do it. If it was a huge failure, I’m sure Netflix would’ve been like, “Ah, not doing that.” So it was really lovely that our fan base embraced it and loved it. Now, the pressure is on. We want do something that can be standalone, respect the history of it, but dare to be bold.
I’m excited to see how Henry Golding moves in the universe.
He’s great, he’s unbelievable. And so is Uma [Thurman]. We’re lucky to have them.
Moving on to the Beauty Notes questions. What is the first thing that you do in the morning, beauty-wise?
I’ve got to get my girls to a bus around seven, so we’re up at 5:45 AM. I brush my teeth, wash my face, and throw a little sunblock on—then it’s lunchboxes and getting them out of the house. That’s usually all I have time for in the mornings on school days. If I have a lighter day, I’ll come back and do a bit more of a skin routine.
What’s your favorite form of self-care?
I really, really crave alone time: taking myself out on a date. I have this thing where I really like to go to a theater, get some popcorn, and see movies during the day, by myself.
What was the last movie you saw on your own?
It doesn’t happen so often these days, but I went to see Cocaine Bear and I absolutely loved it. It was one of the best afternoons ever. I was like, I wanna be in this movie right now!
What’s the best bit of beauty advice you’ve ever received and who was it from?
I would say my mom. She was one of the first people when I was starting to wear a lot of makeup who was a proponent of less is more. She was always like, Trust me, your skin will never be this good. Stop putting so much foundation on. And she was so right. I don’t use foundation at all anymore. On older skin, it just ages you.
Is there a beauty trend you participated in when you were younger that you look back on now and you’re like, What was I thinking?
I permed my hair. That was a big mistake and I paid duly for it. It took forever to grow out and it was just a hot mess. The breakage was very real. It was when the perm was just invented—maybe I should have given it a year. I bet there’s some new formula now that would not do what it did to my hair. In the ’90s, I plucked my eyebrows to nonexistence and I’m still paying the price for that, too. I definitely wish I had thicker brows, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that there are a couple of places that will never be there naturally. So I have joined the microblading party.
What is your ideal spa day and where?
My youngest daughter became a total spa rat last summer. We stayed at a hotel while I was shooting Old Guard 2. Because I was so busy, the thing she wanted to do to have one-on-one time with me was get a couples massage. So that became our mom-and-daughter date night and has now become my favorite spa activity. We have spa dates. We had one last week, actually—her birthday’s coming up, so I took her to a really nice place for, like, a four-hour event. She loved every second of it. Meanwhile, my other daughter’s like, “What? You guys are crazy. You just go in there and fall asleep? Whenever you’re done, take me makeup shopping.” [Laughs].
What is your nighttime beauty routine?
I’m big on my teeth, so I spend quite a bit of time on them. Some nights, when my girls go to bed a little earlier, if I’m lucky, I’ll get into my steam. I love getting my sweat on, showering, and then getting out and still having that on my face when I moisturize. The last thing I do before bed is, I pee. I empty my bladder. You don’t wanna get up in the middle of the night, so get that out of the way!