SAN DIEGO • Her father died in a car accident, Charlize Theron would tell people in her younger days when she was asked.
The truth is that her mother shot and killed her alcoholic dad in self-defence when she was just a young girl. He had threatened to kill his wife and daughter when he was drunk.
Theron, 41, finally came clean about the incident in a recent interview with radio personality Howard Stern.
Her mother was not charged with murder as the shooting was deemed in self-defence.
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"I just pretended like it didn't happen," said Theron, who plays a tough undercover agent in new movie Atomic Blonde.
"I didn't want to tell anybody. Who wants to tell that story?
"Nobody wants to tell that story.
"I didn't want to feel like a victim. I struggled with that for many years until I actually started therapy."
In control of her life and career now, Theron, who bagged a Best Actress Oscar for her role as a serial killer in 2003 movie Monster, took part in Entertainment Weekly's annual Women Who Kick Ass panel at Comic-Con over the weekend.
Amid talk that a woman could play James Bond after Jodie Whittaker was announced as the new Dr Who, Theron pointed to her own role in Atomic Blonde.
"I'd like to see more Lorraines," said Theron, referring to her character as an MI6 spy.
"Women in film typically need a reason to become warriors - losing a child or husband," she noted, but added that they can just be warriors.
"That's what Atomic Blonde is supposed to portray.
"Lorraine is simply herself. There's no explanation for why she is the way she is."