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Charlize Theron Options Mental Illness Memoir for Dakota Fanning

Women and Hollywood By Inkoo Kang | Women and Hollywood May 5, 2014 at 3:00PM

Theron will produce Susannah Cahalan's book "Brain On Fire: My Month Of Madness," about a promising young woman afflicted by an extremely rare neurological disorder that renders her clinically insane.
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Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron has never been shy about criticizing the film industry's relative lack of interesting roles for women. Back in 2008, she told The Guardian

"People just aren't willing to see conflict, or ugliness or the more flawed side of life through a female character's eyes. I mean, can you imagine a woman playing Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver? When Robert De Niro does it, it's fine, [but] people are very uncomfortable about seeing that through a woman's eyes. We aren't allowed complexity."

Theron evidently sought out darker female roles as the mean girl who never grew up in Young Adult, the evil queen in Snow White and the Huntsman, her Oscar-winning star turn as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster, and the compulsively nasty protagonist of the upcoming Gillian Flynn adaptation Dark Places


And now Theron's helping a younger woman attain the kind of complicated role she probably wishes she'd had in her twenties. Last week brought news that Theron has optioned Susannah Cahalan's mental-illness memoir, Brain On Fire: My Month Of Madness, as a star vehicle for Dakota Fanning. The book chronicles Cahalan's terrifying experience of waking up in a hospital with no idea how she got there, being labeled bipolar and schizophrenic, and very slowly receiving the help (and the correct diagnosis) that she needs: that of an extremely rare neurological disorder that rendered Cahalan, then a NY Post reporter in her early twenties, a stranger to herself. 

Theron will also produce. The two actresses previously co-starred in the 2002 thriller Trapped. Deadline notes that Theron and Fanning also shared a manager. 

This article is related to: Charlize Theron, Dakota Fanning, Susannah Cahalan, Brain On Fire: My Month Of Madness, Women Writers