Charlize Theron is a superhero. She’s already proven this twice in the past six weeks, debuting her Marvel Cinematic Universe character Clea in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and making a more subversive super-cameo in the season 3 premiere of “The Boys.”
But her real superpower was on display Saturday night on the Universal Studios backlot in Los Angeles, where she hosted a block party celebrating the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project’s 15th anniversary.
Theron was fresh off a flight from Rome where she’s in production on Netflix’s “The Old Guard 2,” making the 6,000-mile journey to celebrate the milestone in person. While most people would’ve needed an intravenous coffee drip, Theron was energized by the mission of the organization, which focuses on fighting the HIV epidemic in the actor’s native South Africa.
“The world is constantly changing and you have to be able to exist in a space where you can really pivot to what’s happening in the world,” Theron told Variety on the red carpet.
“The thing I’m really the most proud is that we’ve built organization in a way where it can really serve as people, when there’s emergency need, when there’s COVID relief needed, when it goes outside of the foundation of what we really do because, at the end of the day, we can’t tell our organizations we’ll just wait for this to pass,” she explained. “I’m really proud of the fact that given all the challenges that we’ve seen in the world, we’ve really been able to still service on-the-ground organizations.”
The founder saluted her friends and former co-stars, like Sofia Boutella (“Atomic Blonde”) and Jordana Brewster (the “Fast” franchise, including the upcoming “Fast X”), who showed up to support the organization.
“It’s people who’ve been with us from our origin,” Theron said. “That speaks volumes to volumes to the connection that our story, our narrative and the organization has. Our foundation really taps into people’s understanding, the real need for what we’re servicing, and that’s why they keep showing up and so I’m grateful for that. You can’t do this without a community.”
Theron also teased what to expect from the “Old Guard” sequel, which begins filming next week with newly announced cast members Uma Thurman and Henry Golding. In addition to rocking a new jet black mullet for the role, Theron shared plans to up the ante on the action for round two.
“I’m excited about our team coming back and having had all this time to really think about what we want the next story to be,” she shared. “It’s a big ask to want everybody involved to do action that’s raising the bar of what we did last time. It takes time and energy and effort and everybody has put that forth. I want to see the fruits of that labor.”
Before jumping back into “The Old Guard,” Theron recently wrapped production on “Fast X,” where she reprises her role as the criminal mastermind Cipher. Theron’s responsibilities took place at the beginning of the production schedule, where she shot alongside the franchise’s newest villain, played by Jason Momoa.
“It was just really nice to get to work with Jason. He was so lovely,” Theron said. “And I get to do some different things in it, so I’m really excited about that. It’s a different Cipher.”
Reminded that, last year, Vin Diesel told Variety‘s Marc Malkin that he’s got writers working on a spin-off for the character, Theron quipped, “Listen, the man has pulled off this incredible franchise, so I wouldn’t put on anything past him. But he’s gotta hurry up because I need a hip replacement.”
She’d also need to find time in your extremely full dance card. In addition to her upcoming roles in “The Old Guard 2” and “Fast X,” Theron is still riding high off her cameo appearances in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and “The Boys.” But which of the two pop-culture moments came first?
“Seth [Rogen, ‘The Boys’ executive producer] asked me a while back, and I will lay my body over broken glass for that guy and all of his partners at Point Gray, I absolutely love them, and we look after each other,” Theron said of her “Long Shot” co-star. “I love the show. I think it’s really smart.”
Then Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige called to offer the mid-credits scene cameo in — a role that indicates a lengthy future in the MCU — Theron mentioned she’d already shot for “The Boys.”
“I was very transparent, and they were just like, ‘This is great,'” she recalled. “I mean, [‘The Boys’ is] a satire. I think there’s room for everything, and it doesn’t mean anything other than people are interested in these kind of worlds right now.”
After wrapping up the red carpet, Theron switched from interviewee to interviewer, moderating a Q&A with the team behind “Jurassic World Dominion” — director Colin Trevorrow, stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Jeff Goldblum, DeWanda Wise and Mamoudou Athie, and co-screenwriter Emily Carmichael. Following the conversation, attendees — including Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “We’re Here” star Eureka O’Hara, Angelique Cabral, Mary McCormack and The Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. — enjoyed a live set from Wyclef Jean, who got the crowd (including Theron) up on stage dancing to some of his biggest hits before the credits rolled on an open-air screening of the blockbuster movie.