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Theron bellies up for 'Astronaut's Wife'


August 30, 1999
Web posted at: 4:05 p.m. EDT (2005 GMT)

Sherri Sylvester
CNN Entertainment News Correspondent

(CNN) -- She stands 5 feet, 10 inches (1.8 meters) and exudes sex appeal. She heats up the silver screen with some of Hollywood's hottest leading men, including Keanu Reeves in "The Devil's Advocate" (1997).

Now, 24-year-old Charlize Theron is trading her lingerie for maternity wear in the title role of New Line Cinema's sci-fi thriller "The Astronaut's Wife." The film came in at No. 10 on the national box-office take this weekend, making some $4 million on its debut.

Theron plays the pregnant spouse of Spencer Armacost (Johnny Depp), a NASA astronaut who loses contact with Earth for two minutes during a shuttle mission. The film turns a sweet love story into a dark tale of paranoia. The sci-fi genre is something new for Theron.

"I never thought I'd be in a movie that had anything to do with an alien," she says, "and this came from such a realistic and human place that it scared me. That's why I wanted to do it."

Theatrical preview for "The Astronaut's Wife"
Windows Media 28K 80K

Theron says the film leaves a lot up to the imagination, which makes it powerful. "It's not seeing the monster," she says, that makes the film work. "It's knowing the monster is in the closet, and he can come out at any second."

'Can I wear the belly today?'

Filming did have its lighter moments. Theron had to wear a bulging prosthetic to simulate her character's pregnancy. She says her friends wanted to try on the stomach. "They'd make me take it off," she says, "so they could put it on. It was like, 'Can I come by and wear the belly today?'"

Theron's last film, "Mighty Joe Young," put her face-to-face with a gorilla. This time around, she snuggles up to someone closer to her size.

She says Depp is "not the kind of actor who just goes, 'Oh, well, let's just do it and get it over with' -- which is great because you want to feel like you're being challenged. It makes you stand on your toes a little more."

Ultimately, Charlize Theron says she hopes "The Astronaut's Wife" launches her career as a serious leading lady.

Review: 'Gloria' stumbles on heels of original
January 26, 1999
Review: Monkeying around with 'Mighty Joe Young'
December 25, 1998
Review: Fading genius revealed in 'Celebrity'
November 23, 1998

Official 'The Astronaut's Wife' site
New Line Cinema
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