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Charlize Theron's past family tragedy helped her prepare for new film

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Charlize Theron has admitted that her past family tragedy has helped her connect to her new film role. The actress witnessed the death of her father at her mother's hands when she was just 15.

As fans of the Hollywood star may know, Charlize's mum Gerda shot dead her alcoholic father when he drunkenly threatened the pair with a gun in their South Africa home back in 1991.

A court ruled that Gerda had acted out of self defence and no charges were made.

charlize theron1 © Photo: Getty Images

Charlize Theron's father was killed when she was 15

In her new film Dark Places, which is based on the bestseller by Gillian Flynn, Charlize plays protagonist Libby Day. Her character sees the brutal murder of her mother and sisters in what appears to be a Satanic cult ritual.

Speaking about the difficult role she has taken on, Charlize said: "There's definitely an acknowledgement on my part that I had an experience of a very traumatic experience, an event in my life and somehow it's formed me."

charlize theron2 © Photo: Getty Images

Charlize Theron, pictured with her mum Gerda, admitted that the incident had "formed" her 

The 39-year-old actress, who was conducting an interview with French television network TF1, added: "My character goes through this event when she's eight years old, and it really is examining what trauma does to a child, especially when she's expected to speak about it."

"That's definitely something I can relate to, that's definitely something I've experienced in my life," said Charlize. "As far as events go, they're very similar. There's a murder [in the film], while my situation was a very unfortunate incident with self-defence."

charlize theron3 © Photo: Getty Images

"I'm a very, very, very lucky girl," said the actress, who is dating Sean Penn

The South African actress, who has a young adopted son Jackson, rarely speaks about the past incident, but she did say that she doesn't let her father's death define her.

"I know that if my daughter was in the same situation, I would do the same thing," said Charlize. "It's a part of me, but it doesn't rule my life."

The Monster star has recently opened up about her director boyfriend Sean Penn, 54, whom she has been dating since June 2014. "'I'm a very, very, very lucky girl. Very lucky. He's hot," Charlize told Esquire magazine. "He is hot. How do you say that in an interview? You're a 40-year-old woman sounding like a 16-year-old."

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