Theron grew up surrounded by animals on a farm in South Africa.
However, when director Ron Underwood was casting the role of Jill,
the companion and protector of a 15-foot gorilla in Mighty Joe
Young, he refused to audition the up-and-coming young actress.
But her persistence finally won her the role.
know about my history, Theron insists. He knew me as
the girl in Two Days in the Valley. But I was an only
child and my parents ran a road construction company, so the only
means of entertainment was having relationships with animals, the
way Jill had with Joe. I immediately understood the relationship
between those two characters, just from my own personal
experiences. I have always (previously) played characters that I
dont have an extensive knowledge as to their lives and their
personalities. I think that is what attracted me to them. This was
the first time that I wanted to play somebody because it was so
reminiscent of my own life.
Based on the
1949 classic, the movie tells the story of Mighty Joe Young
and his guardian, Jill, who literally grow up together following
the untimely deaths of their mothers at the hands of the same
poacher. Their idyllic life in the jungles of Africa is disrupted
by a group of hunters. Coming to the rescue is zoologist Gregg OHara
who offers Joe shelter in a conservatory in California. But the
animals safety is in jeopardy as a ruthless hunter plots to
acutely aware that her rapport with Joe would be the
most important aspect of the movie. I knew that if the
relationship between me and Joe wasnt something that you
could believe in then the film was nothing, so I paid a lot of
attention to it.
Young is an amazing animatronic creation of special effects
wizard, Rick Baker. The character also appears in the film through
computer graphics. Although Theron was faced with special effects
in The Devils Advocate, she wasnt as
personally involved with them as she is in this movie. It
was a challenge, at times, acting opposite an x on the
wall, she recalls, but you have to find something
within yourself in order to do the scene, because a big part of
acting is connecting with that other character and reacting to
them. When the other character isnt physically in front of
you, it becomes difficult.
She even has a sense of humour
about her co-star. He did get a lot of attention, she
laughs. Whenever I did a scene with Joe, and Ron Underwood
would yell, Cut! everyone would fawn over him Joe
was great in that scene did you see that bit he did with
his eyes? And Id be standing by saying, Hey
guys, I was in that scene too!