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The Astronaut's Wife

Charlize Theron is Back in The Twilight Zone

by Ian Spelling
New York Times News Service
Chicago Tribune
August 26, 1999

Charlize Theron and Mia Farrow should do lunch.

Theron chopped off her blonde locks for the 1997 high-rent horror film The Devil’s Advocate, in which she battled Al Pacino’s litigious Beelzebub, and Hollywood promptly dubbed her a Farrow for the 1990s.

Now, Theron’s back with The Astronaut’s Wife, once again sporting Farrowesque short hair and courting comparisons to Woody Allen’s one-time muse as she grapples to protect her unborn twins from extraterrestrials.

In some respects, Theron’s new movie retraces the dark themes of the classic horror film Rosemary’s Baby (1968), in which Farrow played a pregnant young New Yorker who battles devil-worshippers but ends up giving birth to Satan.

“I just asked for the Farrow connection, I guess,” says Theron (2 Days in the Valley, The Devil’s Advocate, Mighty Joe Young.)

“I love Rosemary’s Baby and think it’s a great movie. I never really made the connection when I did The Devil’s Advocate, but there’s no getting away from it now.”

Invading theaters nationwide on Thursday, The Astronaut’s Wife casts Theron as Jillian, the emotionally distressed wife of heroic astronaut Spencer Armacost (Johnny Depp).

In the film, Armacost returns from a calamitous space mission to impregnate his wife, who discovers that the astronaut in her house is a very changed man.

“I’ll be very honest and say I’ve never been a huge fan of anything—other than Alien (1979)—that has portrayed life out there,” says the South African actress. “It’s very hard to say that because I’m a damn actress and I should have this huge empty plate of accepting everything and being cool with everything.

“What I loved so much about Rosemary’s Baby is that it takes you up to where the baby is, but you don’t ever see the face. That’s great. I loved that, and in essence that’s what The Astronaut’s Wife is.

“You never really see what’s happening. You find yourself asking ‘What if? What if? What if?’ That to me is more realistic and scarier than . . . ‘This is blood!’ or ‘Here are the aliens! They live in a little space shuttle.’”

Theron says she enjoyed working with the enigmatic Depp, “an impressive talent,” and with first-time director Rand Ravich. The latter, she notes, helped her fend off any fears she might have had about carrying the picture.

“I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I knew Rand would be there for me,” she says. “That made me feel more at ease than if I were working with some veteran director. I felt like I was with a friend and there wasn’t this extra pressure. I didn’t feel like, ‘Oh boy, I’d better make this one work or I’ll never get another job.’”

Still, New Line Cinema postponed the film’s release several times and Theron acknowledges that she recently shot several new scenes.

“We have gone back and played around with the ending. That was fun, because the story is so ambiguous. You don’t always get the answer in the end.”

Theron, who will soon be seen opposite Ben Affleck in Reindeer Games, Mark Wahlberg in The Yards and Tobey Maguire in The Cider House Rules.

“It’s my kind of movie,” she says. “Beyond being a scary movie and a tragic love story, it’s visually beautiful. You can’t take your eyes off it, it’s shot so gorgeously.”

But will the audience get to see any human-alien baby hybrids?

“Oh, come on!” Theron protests. “You’ll have to pay your $8.50 to find out. I’m not telling you that.”

-- donated by Joni

-- photos added by Zone editors