If there’s a woman who knows how to bring a female anti-hero to life, it’s Charlize Theron.
“I built a whole career on flawed and (expletive)-up characters,” she told USA TODAY. “I made a career of this stuff.”
From her Oscar-winning turn in 2003’s Monster to her 2011 dramedy Young Adult, Theron has dedicated much of her time on-screen to exploring atypical female characters. Now, she’s stepping behind the scenes to bring her latest anti-heroine to fruition, adapting Girlboss, the book by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, into a series for Netflix with her Denver & Delilah production company.
At a panel on Wednesday, Theron explained the struggles of finding the right home for the show, joined in her pursuit by Girlboss‘ creator, executive producer and showrunner Kay Cannon.
“That year, I remember that I had watched all the Oscar screeners and it felt like every story was about a flawed man,” Cannon said about discovering Amoruso’s original book. “I was starving to create something about a woman’s story.”
But Cannon and Theron encountered a difficult climate while shopping the concept around to networks.
“When we got the rights, we went to one other place (aside from Netflix),” Theron said. “Just to give you an example, we sat in a room, the feedback we got was absolutely shocking — it was mostly men in the room. We walked out with a sense that if we didn’t find the right home for this, it would become something very mediocre.”
“And I remember standing at the elevator and looking at Kay, and she’s just so optimistic, and I’m just this depressed (expletive).”
“I remember being like, ‘Charlize, get in the elevator, they can hear us!” Cannon joked, describing the demoralizing meeting.
“When we did pitch it to the place we shall not name, they said, ‘You can’t call it Girlboss, and you need to make it more for men,'” Cannon said. “We were like, ‘That is what the show is,’ it was almost like a joke.”
Acquiescing to a team of men wasn’t in the cards for Cannon and Theron. After pitching the show to several major networks, they made a deal with Netflix. Cannon brought in a writers’ room with a majority-female staff, with Amoruso joining to shape the show as an executive producer. And they found their Sophia in actress Britt Robertson (The Space Between Us, Tomorrowland, Under the Dome).
“The young girl in me was envious and wished she had something like this in her ’20s,” Theron said.
Girlboss arrives on Netflix April 21.
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