Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron is back in the spotlight with "Snow White and The Huntsman" and that's where she'll stay with "Prometheus" opening this week. And in July she starts shooting George Miller sequel “Mad Max: Fury Road” in Namibia (after three years of waiting, "It’s time to skin this cat already," she says). Theron is also shopping a TV series that puts a modern spin on the feuding families of "Hatfields and McCoys," the History Channel's record-breaking mini-series.

"The Devil's Advocate"
"The Devil's Advocate"

Stylish $170-million "Huntsman" did top its lowball projections, but the film is cringe-inducing, and while "Prometheus" is a breathtaking visual feat with some killer performances (from Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender), Theron's is not among them. She's one of our great actresses, a beautiful and sexy Oscar-winning badass who says whatever she wants -- so why settle for sub-par roles?

Theron highlights the balancing act even the top actresses in Hollywood must perform between top notch indie roles and studio tentpoles. She's never dominated the box office on her own, and her best work (including her Oscar) is grittier indie fare. In fact, "Snow White" is Theron's first venture in a big-budget mainstream film in five years. Between "Hancock" and “Snow White,” she starred in four low-budget films that didn't play more than 1,000 theaters.

SIGNATURE LINE: "I'd like to thank…oh, hell, I'd like to thank my own abilities,..I'm gonna look like an asshole; deal with it." - Theron, in her practice Oscar acceptance speech (video below). Here's the other one.

THE START: She began as a ballerina and model in her native South Africa before coming to Los Angeles, where she was cast in her first film, "Children of the Corn III" in 1995 at age 20. The following year she landed "2 Days in the Valley" and Tom Hanks' "That Thing You Do!," followed by a role as Keanu Reeve's wife in "The Devil's Advocate" (1997), as a supermodel in Woody Allen's "Celebrity," and as an ape's co-star in Disney's "Might Joe Young" (1998).

She transitioned from beautiful co-star to leading lady via "The Astronaut's Wife" (1999, with Johnny Depp), "The Cider House Rules" (1999, with Tobey Maquire and Michael Caine), "The Yards" (2000, with Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix) "The Reindeer Games" (2000, with Ben Affleck), "Men of Honor" (2000, with Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr.), "The Legend of Baggar Vance" (2000, with Will Smith and Matt Damon) and "Sweet November" (2001, again with Reeves).