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This Aeon Flux Scene Almost Put An End To Charlize Theron's Stunt Career

Many Hollywood film stars pride themselves on doing their own stunts whenever possible. This can serve as a point of pride for screen performers who sometimes have trouble shaking off reputations as divas or phonies, while also lending additional realism and verisimilitude to an action sequence. But, of course, there's also the risk that the performer in question could severely injure themselves, even in the safety-first environment of a modern-day movie set.

Charlize Theron is one of the actors who have done their own stunts in various action-adventure vehicles over the years, one of the most notable examples being the 2005 film "Æon Flux," based on the cult animated series of the same name, created and directed Peter Chung. If you're familiar with the film or its source material at all, you know that the lead role requires Theron to perform all kinds of acrobatic stunts and fight scenes, and it was one such stunt that nearly rendered her unable to do any major action work in movies ever again.

An on-set accident almost left Theron paralyzed

The scene in which the accident occurred called for Theron's character Æon to perform a characteristic handspring backflip in platform shoes, as per a story in the Chicago Tribune. Theron opted to perform the move herself, but she didn't quite manage to stick the landing and ended up landing on her neck. She slipped a disc, and according to Theron herself in a News.com.au interview, she was only "a centimetre away from being completely paralysed for the rest of my life." A disturbing notion, to be sure.

As it was, Theron escaped paralysis but still had to deal with serious pain, spasms, and nerve damage where she had fallen on her neck. She says she was in pain management for eight years, before a neck fusion procedure left her "functioning perfectly again." The accident made Theron understandably cautious about taking on as much stunt work in future projects, but didn't take her out of the game altogether. The above interview was to promote her 2017 film "Atomic Blonde," which also features copious amounts of stunts and fights, many of which Theron performed herself.

Her Atomic Blonde performance included plenty of fighting and stunts

While many actors would have probably taken a serious injury like the one Theron suffered during the filming of "Æon Flux" as a cue to get out of action movies, Theron eventually took on another action-intensive role in "Atomic Blonde." In the same News.com.au interview, the actress was asked about the film's signature "long-take" fight scene, which lasts several minutes without any visible cuts. 

"I'm doing 95% of it all on my own, including some of the big falls," Theron says. She then goes on to credit the intense preparation and training she underwent in order to avoid any injuries, explaining, "I had an incredible team that prepared me for that scene for two months straight, and nothing happened, which goes to show when you prepare, you avoid injuries."

Interestingly, if you'd like to get a look at the team that helped Theron get in shape for her amazing "Atomic Blonde" fight, all you have to do is watch the fight scene itself. "The guys that I'm fighting [in 'Atomic Blonde], by the way, are all my teachers," Theron says. "They were teaching me Muay Thai, kickboxing ... I'd spend sweaty five-hour sessions with them for two months, then I got to actually shoot the stuff with them, so nothing was a shock." 

It's certainly smart to have the stunt coordinators and trainers themselves perform in the film, and this is a major feat for Theron after recovering from an injury that could have left her completely paralyzed.