Charlize Theron turns 40 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. This year she shaved her head to play the super strong (and sometimes crazy) heroine in Mad Max: Fury Road. Her latest movie, Dark Places, based on the Gillian Flynn novel, hits theaters today, and casts Theron as Libby Day, a woman on a quest to solve the horrific childhood murder of her family.
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 eight 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.
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.
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.
6. When she demanded an equal salary to her male co-star, Chris Hemsworth, for the upcoming sequel The Huntsman, after they both starred in 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman. Theron will reportedly be receiving 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.
8. When she adopted her son Jackson, now 3½ years old, in 2013 and a daughter, August, earlier this month.