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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Interview with Charlize Theron

Aired December 23, 2011 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, I sit down with one of those beautiful women in the world, Charlize Theron.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

MORGAN: Wow, I didn't even know you fancied me. That's amazing.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: She's a glamour girl, one of "Esquire's" sexiest women alive. She's smart, she's sassy, and she can apparently tell a dirty joke and drink you under the table. Sounds like a perfect woman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLIZE THERON, OSCAR-WINNING ACTRESS: I was raised by a broad. And some of that rubbed off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: A girl who went from a South African farm to Hollywood stardom and won an Oscar for her brutally honest role as a serial killer.

Tonight, you'll see her as you've probably never seen her before.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERON: That's a very good taco.

MORGAN: Do you know how many times I've dreamt of having a taco with you over a few beers?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Charlize Theron on her life, her loves, the tragedy that brought her to Hollywood in the first place, and the cause that's closest to her heart.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

(MUSIC)

MORGAN: Right. Now, let's start with the obvious question. How do you actually pronounce your name?

THERON: Charlize Theron.

MORGAN: That's the American way.

THERON: Yes. Yes. It's how -- it's what I felt would be easier for people.

MORGAN: What is the correct South African, dare I say it, African way of pronouncing this?

THERON: Charlize Theron.

MORGAN: I much prefer that. It's so much sexier. Say that again.

THERON: Charlize Theron.

MORGAN: Charlize Theron.

THERON: Charlize Theron.

MORGAN: You obviously were raised a South African and you presumably came to L.A. with a broad South African accent. And you quite consciously went and taught yourself how to speak in an American accent, right?

THERON: Yes. I mean, look, it was kind of -- I was kind of pushed into a corner. I started going out on auditions and the feedback was always she's really great, but can she do it in an American accent?

My English was very poor, and I still you'll hear -- I'll make a lot of grammar mistakes. And I can't --

MORGAN: Do you speak African certainly?

THERON: Every day. And my mother lives two minutes away from me.

MORGAN: Can you speak African to her?

THERON: Yes. It feels --

MORGAN: Let's have a burst. Come on. I love it if you speak African to me.

(LAUGHTER)

THERON: Well, I mean, (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

MORGAN: Wow, I didn't even know you fancied me. That's amazing. That's incredible.

So you speak it completely fluently?

THERON: Oh, I think more fluently than I speak English. Yes, definitely.

MORGAN: Well, Miss Theron. What do you -- Harrelson got me very excited about interviewing you.

THERON: Woody?

MORGAN: Yes. Because he told "W" magazine a couple of years ago, Charlize is not like a delicate girl. She's a classic broad in terms of being a beautiful woman, incredibly talented and also able to tell more vulgar jokes than you, and drink you under the table.

THERON: None of this --

MORGAN: Guilty as charged?

THERON: None of this -- there's no truth to it whatsoever.

MORGAN: There clearly is.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: I can't imagine you being vulgar. You seem such a class girl.

THERON: I'm not vulgar, I wouldn't say I'm vulgar. But I -- you know, I think I was raised by a broad and some of that rubbed off. And I'm really -- I'm very -- I'm grateful for that.

I -- Will Smith one day said, what I like about you, Chuck, is that you're like from the White House to the ghetto. And I thought that was one of the best compliments that was ever given to me.

MORGAN: That's a great phrase.

THERON: Yes, I mean, you know, I don't think --

MORGAN: But he calls you Chuck?

THERON: Yes.

MORGAN: It's getting ever more complicated.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: You're going to have to restate your name now.

THERON: I know, seriously.

MORGAN: You can't have Americans call you Chuck.

THERON: No, no, no, no. MORGAN: They'll call everybody Chuck if you give them half the chance.

THERON: Look, I loved working with Woody. And we actually did a film together that was a true story of this very important sexual class action -- class action sexual harassment case that took place in Minnesota. And so, it was really heavy material. And --

MORGAN: All your stuff is heavy. This is why I like you. You know you could just play conventional pretty blonde stuff until, you know, you're 108. But actually you choose --

THERON: No, actually you can't do that until 108. That's why I chose this career, because I want --

MORGAN: Heading that way?

THERON: Because I want to actually work until I'm 108, and I don't think you can't have longevity if you just kind of fall back on one aspect of what you are.

MORGAN: I mean, you always choose these challenging roles. I mean, they're always quite edgy, the ones that I've seen. They're always a little bit dangerous. I mean, you know, you take risks. I like that about you as an actress. There's never the safe one, is there?

THERON: Well, I don't think human beings are -- I think we're pretty complicated. And I do think there's a lack of -- a lack of interest and willingness to explore the kind of not so attractive side of what it is to be a woman, and the fact that we don't want to necessarily as a society celebrate the fact that we are complex and that we are -- you know, we're flawed.

And not all of us are perfect mothers. And not all of us are perfect wives. And, you know, we're complex. I felt that when "Monster" came for me. The thing that was very clear to me was that, it really read like something that De Niro would get or, you know, some great guy would get to play this very conflicted character and very few times in my career have I been given that opportunity to kind of tackle some -- a female that represents the conflict that I think is really very evident in who we are.

MORGAN: What flaws do you have? If you don't mind me saying too obvious.

THERON: I don't have flaws, I'm speaking of other women.

(LAUGHTER)

THERON: No, , I'm perfect.

MORGAN: Come on, let's get you on the therapist couch here.

THERON: Oh, dear God, what is this an hour show?

MORGAN: Yes, we got plenty of time, seriously.

(LAUGHTER)

THERON: I think we need another few hours.

Look, I am -- I'm just as flawed as the woman next to me. I really am. I think that the great thing about aging has been the acknowledgement of my flaws. And I think it's kind of -- it's given me a sense of peace. And so, so far, I'm really loving the aging process because that kind of wisdom of like really kind of understanding why you sometimes do the crap that you do or behave --

MORGAN: Do you really love the aging process?

THERON: So far, I said. I said so far.

MORGAN: Is that because it's obviously treating you quite well?

THERON: Look, I'm only 35. My God.

(LAUGHTER)

THERON: We're talking about this like I'm in my --

MORGAN: I didn't mention the aging process.

THERON: No, I'm only 35. And so I consider that pretty young.

MORGAN: You haven't actually spelled out any flaws yet.

THERON: OK. Well, if you have to, if you really want to cover this.

MORGAN: Well, you raised it.

THERON: I suffer from a bit of OCD.

MORGAN: I know about this. Closets have to be perfect.

THERON: Yes. I'm a bit -- I'm a bit compulsive. Yes. And that's not --

MORGAN: And you like -- you stay awake at night worrying that someone's closet is --

THERON: I have a thing about things that are hidden. Like I will -- yes, I have a hard time, especially when I'm, like, renting a house if I'm working on a film and I don't know what's in all the -- I have to know what's in all the -- this is so pathetic. I cannot believe we're talking about this.

MORGAN: This is great. You're sounding really weird. This is great. So you get to these random houses, and what do you do?

THERON: I -- the first thing I do is I inspect every closet and drawer. MORGAN: Fantastic.

THERON: And then I have to -- I have a -- like -- it's just my organization. I don't say -- this is just kind of how my head works, things that -- like I have to put things where I think they belong in a room or how you kind of have access to them.

It's really pathetic. This is so bad. Seriously, would you stop talking about it?

THERON: Really beginning to freak me out now.

THERON: I am single. I need to find a man.

MORGAN: This is not going to help.

THERON: This is not going to help.

MORGAN: There are guys going to say who is this weirdo?

THERON: Exactly.

MORGAN: Let's move on. Let's go back to "The Devil' Advocate," which is the movie that kind of spring-boarded you into the A-list. Let's have a little clip and watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERON: You know, you buy a couple of new suits and you're fine.

KEANU REEVES, ACTOR: It's a little more than that, Mary.

THERON: I have this whole place to fill and I know we've got all this money and it's supposed to be fun, but it's not. It's like a test. The whole thing is like one big test.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: It's fascinating watching you because I know you don't like watching yourself, do you?

THERON: I've gotten a lot better. Since I've been producing, I've gotten a lot better with it. When I started, I had a really -- I hate my voice. I hate the way I sound. And I think that was always the part --

MORGAN: That's not your real voice, is it? That's the problem.

THERON: Yes, maybe, because it sounds very foreign.

But since I've become a producer and I've had to kind of, you know, sit in editing rooms and sit for hours and watch footage be cut together, I think -- I think I've gotten better to kind of take myself out of it and really look at it as making a film. And you kind of take all that weight off just yourself, which has been really great for me as an actor. MORGAN: I mean, you bring incredible intensity to this stuff. I mean, scare the life out of me. I'm just watching it from a monitor. I mean, you are -- you know, you're like a raging volcano in some of these parts.

THERON: A raging volcano who likes to clean.

MORGAN: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: The most weird type of raging volcano.

THERON: Look, that film, Taylor Hackford, the director of that film, cast me after several screen tests and auditions. And the studio didn't want me. The studio thought that I was too pretty.

And Taylor really fought for me. He really fought for me. And he's very much an actor's director.

And I really kind of -- I have to thank him, because every moment on that set, I never felt like I was treated like, you know, a new actor or didn't know anything. He really kind of gave me a stage where I could be a raging maniac.

MORGAN: Do you know how much money you've taken at the box office in movies you've been in?

THERON: God, no.

MORGAN: Eight hundred million dollars from 26 movies.

THERON: Wow.

MORGAN: That's not bad, is it?

THERON: That sounds good.

MORGAN: Nearly a billion dollars. You're the billion-dollar woman.

(LAUGHTER)

THERON: No, I don't -- I don't pay that much attention to that. I don't.

MORGAN: You don't care how much they make, these films?

THERON: I care. I want people to go and see my movies. I'm not -- I'm definitely one of those actors who --

MORGAN: If I could offer you a choice now, you can be a lead actress in a movie that's going to make $800 million in the next two months, but it will be critically hammered, everyone will hate you in it, but --

THERON: That wouldn't be the reason that I would choose it. It's not for me --

MORGAN: No, no, no. You can have one of two scenarios.

THERON: Yes.

MORGAN: Or I could put you in a movie that is incredibly critically acclaimed in which you win awards for your acting, but it completely bombs at the box office.

Which one would you prefer at this stage of your career?

THERON: I guess I would take the one that makes the billion dollars, but the critics don't care for it because then I can go make seven of the ones that I love.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: See, that's a fascinating answer. That's not what I thought you'd say, but that's an honest answer.

THERON: Yes, I mean, that's the business side of me. I understand how this industry works.

And the -- what I will say in all honesty is that, you know, even though I understand how this machine is driven and how it works, I -- even in making the choices that I have on the bigger studio films, I feel really, really lucky that -- and I'm grateful that I have never really truly felt like I've done myself any -- I haven't compromised to the place where I feel uncomfortable.

I've chosen those big movies with still a belief that there's something creative there that I like in the story telling or whatever it was. So it's not a complete sellout.

MORGAN: No, I accept that.

We'll take a short break. And when we come back, I want to talk to you about South Africa where you grew up and about your mother who's been this heroic, constant figure in your life.

THERON: The broad.

MORGAN: The broad. The other broad.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERON: See, the truth is, I'm a hooker, and I'm trying to clean my life up here, you know, go straight and Christian and all. So, if there's anything that you can help me with --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I see, you've been convicted of a felony.

THERON: Yes, but see that was because I was --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not going to even matter because the best you're going to get is factory work.

Hey, Todd, do we even have factory work?

THERON: I'm sorry. Look, I'm just trying to talk to you woman to woman truthfully, you know? Hey, hey, hey!

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos in "Monster." Now that wasn't just heralded as a great movie. I read serious critics in America saying it was one of the greatest performances in the history of acting. An amazing thing to say about a young actress in your position then, but it was an astounding film. And so visceral role, that character.

I mean, when you look back on it now, obviously brilliant for you in your career, but to actually play that role, what was the experience like?

THERON: That was the greatest gift I think I've ever been given in my career.

MORGAN: Really?

THERON: Yes, look, it's absolutely amazing to win an Academy Award. It's -- I'm not going to sit here and be jaded about it.

MORGAN: Did you watch the Oscars as a young girl?

THERON: I did, yes.

MORGAN: You remember the glamour of it.

THERON: Yes. Yes.

THERON: You remember watching these people winning and thinking it was all impossibly glamorous and exciting?

THERON: Yes, but the funny thing was that I would watch the Oscars and I would go to movies, I loved movies. I would go to movies but I didn't know -- I didn't know the celebrity aspect of it or I didn't understand -- I didn't know their names. Like I would just be like, oh, that's that guy in that movie with the dog. Like, you know, hat was my connection to it.

And I also had this very kind of -- this -- my perspective was just I thought that Tom Hanks was like my neighbor in South Africa. He just happened to be an actor -- like I really didn't understand, you know, the reality of what that world was or anything.

MORGAN: What was the reality of life in South Africa for you? Pretty tough from everything I've read and heard from you.

THERON: Tough, but look, I had an incredible childhood in South Africa. I grew up in a country with a lot of turmoil. And, look, I went through -- I lived in a country that went through probably one of the biggest historical changes in this -- in my lifetime.

Now, with everything that's happening in North Africa and the Middle East, like it's probably the equivalent to that, but you know when Apartheid was dropped in 1991 and in '94 with the first reelection, the first democratic election, like that was a -- that was a really huge thing.

And I think it was only around then when I was around 19, 20, that I really truly understood. You know before that I didn't know anything different. And from traveling and really understanding where I came from, I understood how what we had gone through as a country and as a nation.

But living when I was raised in South Africa, I was raised somewhat isolated in a rural farm community. My parents had a road construction company. They built a lot of the roads in South Africa. And the farm was really just used for us to survive on, like food- wise. We grew and ate everything off the land, but it was really to hold the machinery for the road construction company and also everybody that worked within the company lived on the farm with us.

I was an only child, so I was kind of raised with Zulus and Kozas and South Zutus and their children.

MORGAN: An amazing experience.

THERON: It really was. And I was only aware of what was really going on in South Africa through the fact that my parents were very much outspoken and -- about politics. And that was kind of an every night event. Having dinner and having my mom and my dad talk about the situation in South Africa and politics, and also really witnessing racism through some of my friends and that knowledge of Apartheid was very evident.

So I think I was blessed to have the childhood that I -- you know, you have to kind of look at the glass half empty or half full. I grew up in a beautiful country with a lot of problems. I was raised by two great parents, a great mother who made me very much aware of having a political awareness of where you come from and also of the world that I feel like a lot of my friends in America don't necessarily have because they were raised in a country that's been very fortunate.

MORGAN: When I went to South Africa last summer and went around the Soweto township, which is an incredible thing to do. Millions of people living, and you would imagine -- because they're living in such poverty, that their spirit would be really low and depressed.

It couldn't have been more different.

THERON: They're the most -- yes.

MORGAN: The joy that I saw amongst these people who had nothing. And it was really, I think, from hope. They have been given hope by Nelson Mandela. And they'd also been taught not to complain by Nelson Mandela. If ever a man should have complained about what had happened to him, it's Nelson Mandela. And yet he came out of prison and went, we're not going to exact revenge, we're not going to have a bloody war.

THERON: Not an ounce of bitterness.

MORGAN: We're going to forgive and we're going to move on and we're going to be a country that unites. And that's exactly what's happened.

THERON: And a lot of politicians can say that, but it will have no effect. And he actually -- his cause and effect was brilliant.

MORGAN: Have you met him?

THERON: Yes, yes.

MORGAN: When did you meet him?

THERON: The first time I met him, I had just won the Academy Award. That was the first time I met him.

MORGAN: And what did he say to you?

THERON: The nicest things that any icon or hero could possibly say to you. Things that I'm so not deserving of. But yes, he was --

MORGAN: Like what?

THERON: Just, you know, giving me credit for being a South African and kind of putting South Africa on the map, which I didn't, but I'll take that any day from Nelson Mandela.

MORGAN: Yes, but it was a big deal for a South African to win an Oscar. Not many South Africans have won Oscars over the years.

THERON: None in that category. I don't think.

MORGAN: Any other?

THERON: Yes.

MORGAN: Women?

THERON: Yes.

MORGAN: Who else?

THERON: I don't know if they were women but I know another category South Africans have won.

MORGAN: I bet you're the only actress who's won best actress.

THERON: I think so, yes.

MORGAN: Quite something.

THERON: It's pretty special. Pretty special. Yes. For this farm girl, it's pretty special.

MORGAN: Pretty, I mean, extraordinary. And I want to come after the next break to what I was going to get to but we got sidetracked, your mother, who is also, I think, probably you would say pretty special.

THERON: Yes. I'm grateful --

MORGAN: One of the reasons you're here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back now with Charlize Theron.

Charlize, there was this cataclysmic thing that happened to you. And I don't want to rake over the coals. I know that you've moved on from this and you've come to terms with it, but you talked fondly of both your parents.

And then one day, you're 15 years old, you come back home, and this awful scene erupts where your father comes back with his younger brother, they're both drunk, they're aggressive. Your father has a gun. As most people in South Africa did.

And he actually starts shooting into a room where you are and your mother are. And your mother gets a gun and shoots him dead. I mean, I can't imagine a more dramatic, appalling thing to happen to parents that I would love in the way that you did.

I don't want to go over the details, but in terms of the impact it had on your life, how would you describe what happened afterwards? How much of it is down to what happened, if anything?

THERON: Look, I don't know. It's a great -- it was the great tragedy of my life. But I think that what follows is, I think, what, you know, normally follows when you go through something like a great loss or a shock or -- you know I'm not the first person and I won't be the last person on this earth to experience something like that.

Unfortunately, a lot of people experience that kind of violence. Is that you have to kind of find where you want yourself to be and how you want people to see you in this world. And I was blessed to have a parent that kind of guided me towards very healthy time period of mourning, of going through the confusion, going through the shock, going through the anger, going through all of the emotional things that you do when you -- when something like this happens to you.

But really kind of guided me towards not being a victim and not going through my life feeling victimized. You know, I'm incredibly saddened by that night and saddened by the event. My mother -- you know --

MORGAN: Do you still have nightmares, flashbacks? Does it haunt you?

THERON: No, it doesn't haunt me. No, it doesn't haunt me at all. I'm completely at peace.

MORGAN: Your mother did an extraordinary thing. She sent you off with her blessing. She said, get away from here. Whatever happens to me, I don't want you part of this. I want you to get away and have a career, and you did.

THERON: My mother is amazing. And I know all daughters or children will say this, but that sounds very biased, but my mother is a very -- she's very unique.

MORGAN: She saved your life when you were 2 years old. You fell into a swimming pool, I think, and she dived in fully clothed.

THERON: Yes.

MORGAN: And pulled you out. And she saved your life again when you were 15.

THERON: She saved my life many other times, too.

MORGAN: Tell me about her.

THERON: She -- you know what's incredible, she hates this. You know, my mom is a very, very private person, so she hates when I talk about her. But I will do this just to -- because, you know, we always just tend to talk about that night. And I think it is good for people to understand that my mother has this incredible ability to -- she has a resilience about her that I've never come across in any other human being.

She has this incredible ability to truly understand and appreciate the value of life. And I'm not just saying it because of that experience, she had it before when I was growing up. Not just because she went through an event where, you know, you kind of have to kind of look at every single day, as -- that it could be your last because these things do happen, but I'm not saying it in that sense.

I'm saying from the time that I was a little girl, my mother had this appreciation, she celebrates life. And the interesting thing is, that she -- I don't understand where she got the tools to be the mother that she is, because she did not have a mother who was good to her. And so I'm -- I am -- I want to just -- I always feel like I want to praise her and kind of like sing her praises in some way, because I feel that it's wrong that that's the only kind of event that people always talk about.

MORGAN: I mean the most remarkable thing that you can probably show people is your mother's strength in that time the terrible crisis for both of you and for the family. Look where you are now.

THERON: I think in my Oscars speech I tried to say this and I think I kind of lost it by then but I -- I tried to say that there were no words to describe how grateful, how much I love her but how grateful I am because of the things that she sacrificed for me in order to do all of this.

She was completely alone. She was living on a farm by herself which is one of the most dangerous things that you can do in South Africa and that went on for years, you know, but she encouraged me to go and chase a better life for myself and I think, you know, another parent could have very easily said no.

MORGAN: Obviously it's the strength of character you get from your mother, the independence, a lot of the talent no doubt. But, there must be things that you got from your father?

THERON: He was a -- he was a fun guy. You know, he was a fun guy. I -- I -- you know, he liked to laugh. I remember him laughing a lot. Oh, God. Yes. I mean, look, I 'm sure I --I'm -- I'm positive I'm from both of them but I'm very -- I feel very similar to my mother -- very, very similar to my mother.

MORGAN: We're going to take another break. When we come back I'm going to talk to you about what you've given back to South Africa now since you've been here, which has been an extraordinary thing that you've achieved, I think.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with Charlize Theron. The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project is committed to reducing the prevalence of HIV and AIDS and sexual violence back in South Africa, where you come from. For 12 years you have been doing this. And you've had some real success and achievement. Tell me about that.

THERON: Well, we -- we launched this program in 2007 but I started working with the anti-rape -- the rape crisis center in South Africa 12 years ago when somebody told me -- well, at that time we were the rape capital of the world, DRC is considered that now but rape is still a really big issue in South Africa.

And what happens when you start talking about the rape crisis in South Africa, you start understanding that there's a bigger problem because you're dealing with a country that's highly infected with HIV and AIDS.

I mean, South Africa -- the epidemic in South Africa is the worse than any other country in the world. The -- the number in premature deaths caused by HIV/AIDS has increased in the last decade from 39 percent to 75 percent. We're only one percent of the population, but we're 17 percent of people living with AIDS and HIV in the world.

So when you start hearing things like that you -- like, obviously, I'm -- I'm South African, so it made sense for me. But I think if I wasn't a South African and I heard those numbers, I would -- I -- I --

MORGAN: What is the main reason, do you think, that it's so bad in South Africa? And what can be done to tackle it properly do you think? THERON: I think it's a lack of education. I really do. I really believe that and this program has really made me aware of that. I think we take for granted people knowing how to prevent HIV and AIDS. You know, there's a lot of time and resources and money being poured into immediate care for people who are already positive. and I think that that's very important.

But there's -- we have a real problem with government and donators not truly understanding the importance of prevention care. And I think that, you know, to -- to end this vicious cycle, we have to seriously start looking at prevention care. And it's all about education.

When -- when we launched this program in 2007, when we started the sex educational part of it, you know, culturally, it's not accepted to kind of talk about these things. It's taboo. And when you start some kind of conversation with teenagers about sex just was impossible.

And we would get these real amazing beautiful African mommas who like represented a mother figure to them, who made it OK to talk about sex and condoms and prevention, and also explore, you know, kind of to broaden the horizons of just making it about HIV and AIDS, kind of finding the things that are integrated to that, which is, you know, how you behave with a woman and how you value a woman in your community and what is sex and what is love and -- and hygiene and all of these things.

We started realizing that once they realized it was OK, they didn't know anything. They didn't have the tools or the knowledge.

MORGAN: These t-shirts I have here, lively little numbers, tell me about these.

THERON: Well, they're amazing. This great group of people at Give And Take partnered up with us, incredible people. I'm so grateful to them. Fifty percent of all proceeds of these t-shirts go to Africa Outreach.

MORGAN: How can you get them?

THERON: You can go to our web site, CharlizeAfricaOutreach.org. And you can -- you can buy them there.

MORGAN: And directly help?

THERON: And -- yes, directly -- look, here's the thing. It -- it -- it -- when I started this, you kind of go in very naively, thinking that, you know, you can do a lot with very little. And the truth is that you do -- you do need -- you do need good access to donors and to money. And I feel like people, especially in this country, want to help and do. They help so much. And it's just a question of kind of letting them know how to reach out.

MORGAN: Is the biggest single problem that the young in South Africa just don't really want to use condoms or even know much about them? Is that the problem?

THERON: It's been -- it's knowledge. I think they want to use them. And we have a survey -- we did a survey on our program. And 70 percent of all of our children who have access to condoms use them. So -- and again, I feel that -- I feel that we forget the importance of knowledge of just purely -- and when we started this program, I had a 16-year-old boy tell me that he was not going to be HIV positive. And I said, good. Why? And he said, because I have a condom and I wash it and I use it.

And so it's little things like that that you wonder how many lives you can save if you tell -- how many children you tell, teenagers who are sexually active, that you can't reuse a condom. Something as small as that.

You know, we have great data on what antiretroviral drugs have done in Africa. We don't have great data on what prevention care has done and can do. You know, it's something that's going to take maybe a whole generation to figure out. And I think that's why we have a problems with donors and with government supporting these kind of programs, because prevention care just kind of doesn't feel as necessary or as important as somebody who is already infected.

And in saying all of this, I'm not taking away the importance of that. But I do feel that we can't just focus on one and neglect the other and -- and -- and it's proven when you look at the statistics.

MORGAN: Let's take another break. When we come back, I want to talk to you about politics, what you said was often discussed at the dinner table when you were young. And we're going to bring some tacos in to spice things up a bit.

THERON: Really?

MORGAN: I'll explain why. I think you know why, don't you?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: And I'm back with Charlize Theron. And we have been joined by some tacos and beer. And the reason for that is that in "Esquire Magazine" in 2007 you said the following, "I can't go anywhere, not if you want to talk. This is LA, I mean, if you find me a taco place, a place where we can go, sit around, drink beers, argue politics and be left alone, then take me there, I'll go with you, I'm yours."

Well, Charlize, here we are. Here are the tacos. Here are the beers. We're all alone. I have taken you to --

THERON: This is -- you don't realize when you say these things how much trouble you get into, because people remember them.

MORGAN: Tell me about your views on various political issues. What incenses you? What issues in America wind you up?

THERON: There are a few. I try not to get myself in it -- look, here's the thing, I voted for Obama and I voted -- I've only voted twice in my life. I voted for Obama and I voted for Mandela. And I -- I won't lie to you -- both times felt that I was part of something pretty historical.

MORGAN: Do you still feel with Obama that he is capable of being as great as everybody hoped?

THERON: Yes, I think he's incredibly capable of it. I just sometimes wish the Democrats would actually put action to -- to -- to what they tell people.

MORGAN: How do you feel -- and this is a contentious one for you, but I would imagine you have strong views. What do you feel about the gun policy in America, given that you came from a country where they're everywhere.

THERON: I just don't think that we -- they're in -- by any means, anyone should ever have a semi-automatic or automatic weapon for anything. I'll start with that, you know. I think that. I obviously come from -- I've had an experience in my life where, in the wrong circumstances, a gun could be used in a -- in a -- in a very tragic way.

I also understand people's feelings about wanting to have their right to protect themselves. I always find it interesting that the right to bear arms actually has nothing to do with owning a gun.

MORGAN: You said something very interesting about -- about gay marriage I wanted to talk to you about. "I never had a fantasy about getting married. The more I lived in the U.S. and had friends who were gay or lesbian and watched them struggle in this society where you can only get married if you have the right kind of love. I think love is love and we should all have the same rights."

THERON: It's a divine -- it's a divine right. And, you know, when government starts to tell us who can love and what is good love, whether it's government or a government built on a certain religion, I do have a problem with that. I do. You know, and I think if you want to bring it back to the politics to have a discussion about politics, I do have a problem with the fact that our government has not stepped up enough to make this federal, to make this legal.

MORGAN: You'd like to see every state in America --

THERON: Yes, I think everybody has that right.

MORGAN: -- obliged to allow gay marriage.

THERON: I think everybody has that right. I really do. And, for me, it's, you know -- I think people kind of took that quote and really tried to make it about a statement on my -- for myself. I'll be the first to say here on your show, marriage, before I felt this way about this issue, was never something that was important.

I don't know the exact reason for that. Some would say it's because I came from a very troubled marriage. My parents did not have a good marriage. But I don't think it's that. I know a lot of friends that come from divorced parents or bad marriages who don't feel that way.

I -- I really want for myself a long-term relationship. And I have been in long-term relationships. And so I want that kind of -- that's the kind of union that I want. The actual ceremony is not something that's important to me.

MORGAN: Do you think you'll ever --

THERON: I see the importance for other people. I have a friend who's getting married in October and I'm going for the first time, really, through this experience of being in her bridal party. And I see the joy in her face. And this is a heterosexual couple.

I also have gay couples who have gotten married when it was legal in this state. And I've seen the joy that they get out of that. And I -- just because I don't want that for myself, I don't feel it's right to take that away from someone else.

MORGAN: Do you think you'll never get married?

THERON: I -- I don't. I don't. I mean, look, here's the thing, when you're in partnership with someone, you have to also respect how the other person feels. And I don't want to be one of those, you know, my way.

But, I've been very fortunate enough to be in relationships where I've explained that to my partner and they've been very OK with that, not that I've kind of forced them into a corner. I treat my relationships like marriages, I really do.

And, for me, I feel -- I feel a lot of marriage -- taking away if you are living by the standard of what you believe in marriage, a lot of it is really great in the celebratory -- in the celebration of finding a dress and getting dressed and for the girl, especially, feeling like a princess.

So I really understand marriage and I respect marriage. I just feel that it should be -- we should all have equal rights. Love is such a divine thing. It's such a gift and, you know, who are we to say.

MORGAN: We're going to come back for a final break. And obviously, I've provided beer and tacos. And when women have beer and tacos, they talk about one thing, men. So we will.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want?

THERON: You know this was never about the gold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever helps you sleep at night, sweetheart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charlie, come on Charlie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That's Charlize Theron in "The Italian Job," surrounded by good looking men, which brings me neatly --

THERON: My job is so hard. It's so hard.

MORGAN: Working with hunky guys all day long.

THERON: It's so exhausting looking in those gorgeous faces.

MORGAN: How many times have you been properly in love?

THERON: That is so -- no -- a few. I'm going to leave it at a few.

MORGAN: How many fingers?

THERON: No, a few. I -- I -- a few.

MORGAN: You had a long-time relationship with an Irishman. And it ended last year. Soon after, you said, quite publicly -- you were sort of hinting you thought this might be the one that was going to be the -- the lifetime relationship, but it didn't work out. Why was that, do you think?

THERON: You know, I really love my job and I love my fans, but when it comes to my relationships, it's something that I keep very sacred to me, it's very private.

MORGAN: Before you split up, you were often asked about children. You made no secret of the fact that you'd like to have children.

THERON: I've always, yes.

MORGAN: Obviously, you're not, as far as -- well, are you in another relationship yet? Am I allowed to pry?

THERON: No, and after --

MORGAN: I've heard some outrageous names.

THERON: And after I eat this taco and they rewind it back and talk about my OCD, I apparently will never have a man in my life again.

MORGAN: Well, Eva Longoria spoon fed me guacamole. Are you in the mood to --

THERON: Yes, but I don't necessarily want to be like all the other women that came on here. I -- I would like to see you with your capable hands bring the taco to your capable -- and eat a taco. MORGAN: Do you have any idea -- I have a pub back in London. Do you have any idea what my street cred would be like if --

THERON: If you ate that taco?

MORGAN: -- if they had images of you spoon-feeding this --

THERON: No, I'm not going to spoon feed you the taco. But I think it would rude if we don't take a bite. So, come on, dig in with me.

MORGAN: OK.

THERON: This is it.

MORGAN: While we do this, is it true that --

THERON: You can't shut him up. Not even with a taco. Look at this.

MORGAN: Is it true that -- actually, it's not bad.

THERON: That's a very good taco.

MORGAN: Do you know how many times I've dreamt of having a taco with you over a few beers?

Tell me about you and Prince Harry.

THERON: Oh my God. We're married, I'm pregnant. And I'm moving.

MORGAN: My God, dropped anchor. I mean, any flirtation there.

THERON : No, I met him. he's such a nice guy, I love the work that he does in Africa. I got invited to a -- I've never been to a polo match. I was in London working on a film. And -- and so I got this great invite. I wanted to go see a polo game.

And he does great work in Africa, we're going to try and do something together. And that's really what that was. And it was unbelievable how, you know, that introduction turned into some crazy, crazy wildfire. Like, it was, yes.

MORGAN: So, early days --

THERON: I feel bad for him.

MORGAN: Do you?

THERON: Yes, I mean, it was just such an innocent introduction. And to have people just kind of -- that must just really be horrible.

MORGAN: I don't think he's moaning, trust me. Harry linked to Charlize Theron is not the worst day of your life. THERON: He is a lovely guy, by the way. Really, really charming, smart, funny. Yes, just really -- it was just nice, beautiful, effortless -- effortless conversation.

MORGAN: Another outrageous name I've heard -- I've been asked to put to you is Keanu Reeves. Any -- any truth to that?

THERON: This is the problem when you're single and your friends kind of come out to help you and, you know, take you out for a nice meal and --

MORGAN: Not a sliver of truth?

THERON: No, I've known Keanu for over 15 years. I mean, we've become -- we became really, really good friends. We did two movies together. He lives 10 minutes away from me. And we became really, really good friends. I consider him one of my best friends.

MORGAN: Could be like when "Harry met Sally," you know, 15 years off.

THERON: Yes, there's -- there's no truth to it. He is just a very, very dear friend.

MORGAN: And so you are footloose and fancy free.

THERON: Aren't you married?

MORGAN: I'm not trying to pull you. I'm trying to establish your single credentials. I'm not offering my services.

THERON: Yes, I'm single.

MORGAN: I just know you like Irishmen, I happen to be Irish.

THERON: I dated one Irishman. Oh my God.

MORGAN: My wife would understand. Why would she mind if I ran off with Charlize Theron? She'd probably be delighted.

THERON: No.

MORGAN: It's been a pleasure to meet you.

THERON: It's been really nice to meet you.

MORGAN: Thank you so much.

THERON: Thank you very much, thank you.

MORGAN: That's all for us tonight, here's Anderson Cooper with "AC360."