Atomic Blonde may just be the most empowering film of the year.
Starring the likes of Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, and John Goodman, the film follows undercover MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Theron) as she navigates Cold War-era Berlin completing dangerous missions. It's far from Theron's first badass role. She lit up screens with her portrayal of Imperator Furiosa in 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road, and dominated global tech in 2017's Fate of the Furious. But there's one new challenge the star tackled in Atomic Blonde, and that is the complexity of portraying authentic fight scenes as a female.
Theron addressed the challenge during Entertainment Weekly's "Women Who Kick Ass" panel (the mag's "icon edition panel") at San Diego Comic-Con 2017.
Speaking with moderator and EW senior writer Sara Vilkomerson, Theron said, "Every fight scene, I was thinking, Could a girl do that?' I didn't want to make this movie and make it as badass as it is and have someone come up to me and say, 'A girl can't do that.' I'm here to say: a girl can do that."
Theron's fight scene really is tremendous. She defeats no less than five men in a way that feels authentic to her — to how a real, capable woman would go about taking down a throng of attackers. Still, she was happy to acknowledge that men and women fight differently.
"The reality is, I can't fight the way a man can," she said, "but that doesn't mean I fight any less better than a man."
Vilkomerson went on to address the infamous lady-on-lady sex scene Theron shares with co-star Sofia Boutella.
"I like that people appreciate it," Theron appeased. "Even though we wanted to make provocative choices for this film and have it live and breathe... we really tried to take this genre and turn it on its head. Putting this movie aside, I just feel that this [LGBTQ] community is not represented the way that it should be in film."
She went on to challenge her peers in the most fantastic way.
"Actors are always talking about reflecting society in media," she said, "but if we're gonna do that, we should really do that. I could have hooked up with a guy, but it's great that I hooked up with a girl. This movie is furthered more than if she'd had a relationship with man. The one time she struggles with humanity and vulnerability is in that scene, so... I'm happy that it's not with a man. I'm happy there's not one place in this movie that it's because of a man that she has to deal with her brokenness. We're trying to break rules here.
"I love me a love-making scene with a man," she added. "I love it in my real life. So I got nothing against that. But I think it was good for this movie.
"Yay for me... I slept with a girl," she laughed as the room applauded.
Other highlights from Entertainment Weekly's "Women Who Kick Ass" panel:
Theron made sure AB's Lorraine Broughton defies the norm
"When a story doesn't work, females are used in film to emotionally manipulate in ways that men don't get used in that way," Theron said. "Meaning that we're nurturers, we may not be thought of as warriors, so we need a reason to become warriors. I have a problem with that, and it's time for us to be shown that way. We don't need to lose a child or a husband or a revenge story."
Theron's proudest moment filming Atomic Blonde was the main fight scene
"It was a real moment to celebrate because we really didn't think we would be able to pull it off," she shared.
Training for AB was insane
"Oh, it's brutal. There's nothing easy about it," she said. "I knew [action] would be such a big part of this film, so I was as mentally prepped as I could be, but once you go to that first four-hour workout and go to bathroom in the middle of night and can't sit down... it was good for me. I pushed myself to a place I thought I couldn't go anymore. Two and a half months later, I saw the first footage, and I got really emotional because all that time I was like, 'Nobody's gonna buy this.' Seeing that we actually got to that place, I felt confident, and we just kept pushing."
AB's end sequence wasn't originally an action scene
"It's a gun shoot-out battle that was never scripted," she said. "David [Leitch, the director] wanted to turn it into an action scene like three days before. It was empowering."
Theron will stick with Lorraine Broughton over Lady James Bond, thanks
"I'm happy to make a couple more movies as Lorraine," she said, "but Daniel [Craig] or Idris [Elba] would be great [as James Bond.]
Theron is open to shooting more Arrested Development
"Still one of my proudest moments was that I won an Academy Award and then five days later I went to AD and did a five-episode arc on that show. She was what got me ready for MI7 spy Lorraine Broughton... I love those guys, I love their writing. If they called, of course I would make myself available."
Theron would be thrilled to see a Furiosa Mad Max spin-off film
"I loved playing Furiosa and I love that George allowed me to play her and didn't fight me. He did nothing but support and celebrate who I wanted that woman to be. It would be great, but if he's not ready, he's not ready. I'll be waiting, George [Miller], but I'm gonna be 42 in August, so let's get it over with."
Theron graces the cover of EW's special "Inside Comic-Con" bonus issue, distributed to attendees throughout the weekend.
Catch Theron, Boutella, James McAvoy, John Goodman, and Toby Jones in Atomic Blonde hits theaters July 28.