atomic blonde trailer

One of the panels that went overlooked at San Diego Comic-Con amidst all the major news and trailers from the rest of the convention was Entertainment Weekly‘s own “Women Who Kick Ass” panel. Usually, the panel features an ensemble of tough, badass women from movies and television, but this year’s panel focused on just one: Charlize Theron.

With Atomic Blonde in theaters this weekend, Charlize Theron continues to proved that she’s a certified action star. As Theron said during the panel, she sought out the movie herself because she wanted a very specific movie to play with, a movie where she could play a character who was “unapologetic and can play by the same rules as men.” Atomic Blonde is definitely that movie, and it opens up a possible franchise where Charlize Theron can keep returning as the secret agent over and over again.

Along with discussing the future of Atomic Blonde with Entertainment Weekly senior writer and panel moderator, Sara Vilkomerson, the actress also talked about a possible follow-up for Mad Max: Fury Road, what she thinks of the suggestion that she be the next James Bond, one of her proudest moments on screen, and what she wants to see from future female characters in movies.

The Future is Female

Charlize Theron grew up being inspired by the likes of Sigourney Weaver in Alien and Aliens, which gave her a new perspective on womanhood completely. It wasn’t just that Ellen Ripley was a badass, but also who she was and how capable she was as a woman. It’s a movie that she revisited when she made Monster.

It’s not hard to see how an actress like Weaver and the characters she’s played over the years have influenced Theron, who has taken to playing strong women across a variety of movies, even if those movies didn’t always turn out as everyone hoped. But Theron still wants to see female characters grow and not fall into the same tropes that have been around Hollywood for decades. Theron explained during the panel:

“When a story doesn’t quite work, the female characters in a movie are used to emotionally manipulate in a movie [and] men don’t get used that way. We’re known to be nurturers, we’re not thought of as just warriors. We need a reason to become warriors, and I’m sick of that. We don’t need to lose a child or to lose a husband or need some kind of revenge story to become a warrior.”

Part of what makes Atomic Blonde work so well is that we don’t need to know much about her character to just accept who she is. Theron says, “I love that about Lorraine. She exists and she’s just simply her. We don’t explain why or why she’s any good at her job. She’s just there, and I love that about her.” She adds that a female character doesn’t need to be used to manipulate emotions to make an impact on the audience, saying:

“I love an emotional story, but there are different ways to tell those stories than to go for those easy, manipulative emotions. But I think sometimes there’s a laziness behind it. It’s such easy choices. Of course  I’ll care for this woman because her husband died. But what if you don’t tell me that, can you make me still feel something for her?  I want to see interesting choices with women, but not the easy mother-nurture, madonna-whore complex that we’ve seen so many times before.”

Mad Max Fury Road Prequel - Furiosa

Mad Max, James Bond and Arrested Development

Since Charlize Theron knows exactly what she wants from female characters in the future, what can we expect to see from the actress as she continues her acting career? Fans have been waiting to see what will happen next in the Mad Max franchise after Theron stole the show as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road, and it sounds like the actress is in the same boat. Theron said that she’s totally game for a Mad Max sequel, but she’s still waiting on director George Miller to make it happen. She does note that she’ll be 42 in August though, so she wants to get to it sooner than later.

Interestingly enough, Theron revealed that she knows even more about Furiosa than fans do. The actress knows how Furiosa lost her arm and how she came to be in The Wasteland. She also reaffirmed the idea that she was brought to Immortan Joe for the purpose of breeding, but discovers that she’s barren. The character is treated as having no purpose in this world because she can’t have children, but she carves out a place for herself, which is a big part of what makes Furiosa such a great character. She’s a woman who doesn’t have to be what others expect her to be.

The strength that Theron has shown on the big screen has Chris Hemsworth championing the actress to take over the mantle of James Bond once Daniel Craig is done with the role. However, referring to the role she plays in Atomic Blonde, she thinks the film gives her “something that could hopefully live and breathe in the same kind of format, we could make a couple more movies and see this agent live.” So while she’s not necessarily opposed to playing James (or Jane) Bond, she says, “I’m fine with leaving James Bond over to Daniel Craig or to Idris Elba, who would be great, and I’ll do Lorraine.” That’s a nice plug for Idris Elba as James Bond as well as hope for an Atomic Blonde sequel to come together.

Finally, Charlize Theron was asked whether we might see her go back to some different spy roots by returning as Rita on Arrested Development when the show comes back for a fifth season. Not only did she acknowledge that appearing on that show is still one of her proudest moments, but she said, “I love those guys, I love that that world, and I love what they do with their writing. So if they called, of course I would make myself available.”

For more from Charlize Theron, watch the entire “Women Who Kick Ass” panel from Comic-Con right here:

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