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Actors put a tremendous amount of stress on themselves, particularly when they're playing a character that's dark, destructive and seemingly incapable of expressing empathy. Charlize Theron did this in 2003's 'Monster,' with the portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wournos (a role that won her an Oscar), and she does it again in 'Young Adult' (out in limited release on Friday). In a roundtable discussion with The Hollywood Reporter -- which included actresses Glenn Close, Michelle Williams, Carey Mulligan, Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis -- Theron and Close spoke about the difficulty of playing unsavory characters on screen.

"I think you have to find a place where you can love your character to do them justice, because if you're judging them, that separation will show," said Close, who famously played stalker Alex Forrest in 'Fatal Attraction.'

So, if that's the case, how would she approach playing one of the most evil individuals in history, Adolf Hitler? Close's answer was a bit curt, explaining that Hitler wasn't someone you could empathize with. Theron, however, had a different perspective.

I just think, people are so concerned that if you looked at a monster, that you might find a human being. There was this great story I came across when I did my research for 'Monster,' about the guy who originally came up with profiling serial killers ... He believes that fables, that werewolves and Dracula and all these scary characters, were created because people don't want to believe that human beings are capable of bad things, so we've created this kind of fantasy world where those things exist, because it can't be in us. We are capable of some shit that will scare you, given the right circumstances.

So you take ... Hitler. You have to be brave enough to say that he's a human being, and on that level, we are all like him, and it doesn't mean you're saying what he did was right. But, you gotta admit that he's from the same breed as all of us. So it has to make you aware that given the right circumstances, there are things you can do that you don't want to believe you're capable of doing. And that is what's interesting for me and my work ... It's the stuff that scares you a little bit: What if I find something about that guy that I could actually have empathy with?

Most actors would likely avoid playing a character as dark as Hitler, but Theron seems up for the challenge (or at least she would know how to go about it if she accepted such a role). You can watch the entire roundtable, where 2011's "It" actresses discuss their careers, below. Theron's 'Young Adult' opens nationwide Dec. 16.

[via THR]

[Photo: AP]





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