When Charlize Theron learned Chris Hemsworth deemed her the perfect fit to play iconic character James Bond, she was flattered — and then, she politely declined. In fact, Theron's response to playing James Bond was quick, smart, and one of the most trailblazing things the actor has said. Her refusal wasn't because she thought she wasn't up for the task, but because she's playing a kick-butt character on her own in her latest movie, Atomic Blonde.
It was during an interview with Entertainment Tonight that Theron learned Hemsworth praised her for the potential role. She looked at the camera and joked, "Chris, so, you got that check I sent you? Thanks, dude. I got your back." (You can watch the funny moment here.)
Theron later gave a message to Daniel Craig, who's played James Bond in the past four installments, saying, "Daniel, you got the job, because I am not going to take that job away from you." But she's not just being polite, she's got a job of her own on her hands. "Let's hope Atomic Blonde kicks some butt," Theron told ET. "I love this character [and] I would love to explore this character again." Clearly Theron's on her own path, developing a legacy for Lorraine.
Although the actor seemed flattered by Hemsworth's "insanely generous and nice" words, the way she shifted focus from James Bond to her character Lorraine Broughton was extremely telling. It was even a little ballsy to so openly turn down the opportunity to play the character, never mind the chance to become the first female Bond. But Theron isn't looking to step into this guy's shoes, as game-changing as that could be.
The tradition of male James Bonds started back with Barry Nelson on TV in 1954, famously followed by Sean Connery in 1962's big screen adaptation, Pierce Brosnan in the '90s, and Craig in the '00s. Roughly 13 men have portrayed or voiced James Bond up until now. There's yet to be a female lead for the role, and last year, former Bond actor Roger Moore flat-out said a "Jane Bond" would have nothing to do with James Bond, who's meant to be a man. Although the first female Bond has been a topic of discussion for the last few years, it has yet to come to fruition.
Rather than jumping at the chance to play the first female James Bond in the franchise, pulling the classic "Call me, studios!" line, Theron was gung-ho on doing her own thing and pushing for Lorraine, which is so awesome to see. It says she's not only proud and confident in her own work, but believes that Lorraine could go head-to-head with Bond, a cultural icon.
While Hemsworth's initial statement about Theron rings true — it also applies to her Atomic character Lorraine. "She embodies every sort of ounce of strength and ability and integrity that [James Bond] should have," he told W. "She's smart as hell. She's physically able." Theron walked that walk for stunts on set, getting her hands dirty and undergoing extensive dental work, enduring bruised ribs, and a twisted knee. Clearly, she's got this.
Nevertheless, taking on James Bond would be no easy task. Still, plenty of actors — female or not — would kill at the chance to walk in James Bond's shoes. But only someone of true Bond stature would have the guts to enter the fray and create their own path.