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Meredith Lepore
Aug 07, 2017 @ 6:30 am

Charlize Theron turns 42 today, and despite being one of the most gorgeous women in Hollywood, the actress has made a career of playing edgy, complicated characters, and morphing her image for each new film. In 2004 she famously gained 30 pounds for her role as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster. Next, she shaved her head to play the super strong (and sometimes crazy) heroine in Mad Max: Fury Road. Dark Places, based on the Gillian Flynn novel, cast Theron as Libby Day, a woman on a quest to solve the horrific childhood murder of her family.

For 2017's Atomic Blonde, Theron played M16 agent Lorraine Broughton, a kick-butt undercover agent who could kill a man with a stiletto. And in 2018's Tully, we'll see the chameleon gain weight once again for a role (35 pounds!) to play a mom with three kids in the new comedy-drama.

RELATED: Charlize Theron's Stylist Busts the Myth Behind "Dressing Your Age"

In addition to her amazing film work, the Academy Award-winner is also a philanthropist, including with her own non-profit Charlize Theron Outreach Project, which assists the fight against HIV in Africa. She has also been outspoken on the female pay gap in Hollywood. In other words, she is a badass. Here are 10 times Theron has shown us how cool she is:

1. When she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for playing real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos 2004's Monster. Her acceptance speech was anything but scary, though. Watch it above.

2. When she shaved her head for Mad Max: Fury Road and subsequently kicked ass in it. Watch the trailer above.

Team CTAOP kicking off their #TOMS to get ready for one day #withoutshoes

A photo posted by Charlize Theron (@charlizeafrica) on

3. When she went a day without shoes to help TOM's give nearly 300K pairs of shoes to children all over the world. Her Charlize Theron Outreach Project collaborated with the brand to help protect youth in Africa from AIDS/HIV.

4. When she held her own in a Dior commercial along with images of Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich. Watch it above.

5. When the native South African was named as a United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2008 by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, with a specific focus on stopping violence against women.

Alex Bailey/©Universal Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

6. When she demanded an equal salary to her male co-star, Chris Hemsworth, for The Huntsman, after they both starred in 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman. Theron reportedly received a $10 million package for the film.

7. When she played a gun-slinging cowgirl who taught Seth MacFarlane how to fight in A Million Ways To Die in the West. Watch the trailer above.

Nothing dark here—Charlize Theron lit up the Dark Places premiere in a pretty pleated printed light pink-and-yellow silk Dior top and skirt, complete with a satin pink Dior clutch, Harry Winston diamonds, and nude strappy sandals. 

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

8. When she adopted her son Jackson, now 5½ years old, in 2013 and a daughter, August, in 2015.

PHOTOS: Charlize Theron's Changing Looks

9. When she kicked serious butt in heels and a dress.

10. When she proved you're never too old to wear a bra as a top.

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