Charlize Theron Braves Stomach Ulcers For ‘Aeon Flux’

Oscar-winning actress spent a year training for assassin role.

Did you ever think that “Scooby-Doo” would make a good live-action movie? That the “101 Dalmatians” should cavort with human, rather than hand-drawn, actors? Will the Transformers work in live action when they roll out on the big screen in 2007?

Sometimes it’s hard to picture your favorite cartoon played by real actors, which is why some fans have been scratching their heads ever since they heard that “Aeon Flux,” the early-’90s cult cartoon hit starring a thong-wearing female assassin with the flexibility of a stick of licorice, was being made into a live-action movie. Real humans don’t bend that way.

At the San Diego Comic-Con last weekend, MTV News caught up with the big-screen Aeon Flux herself, Charlize Theron, and the rest of the movie’s core team to find out whether a live-action “Aeon Flux” makes more sense on the big screen than it does on paper.

Comic-Con attendees got a chance to see a world-first trailer that showed Theron in action, doing splits on top of razor-sharp blades of grass and showing the dynamism one would expect from the cartoon assassin. The movie chronicles Aeon Flux’s one-woman attempted takedown of the corrupt leader of the last city of 24th-century Earth. With the world nearly depopulated by disease, only the city Bregna remains, sealed off from the wild and preserved in too-good-to-be-true social harmony. Aeon is assigned to investigate, assassinate and get to the bottom of things.

Theron said she reveled in playing a not-so-simple bad girl. “Her moral compass is a little off,” she said. “She’s an assassin. She kills people. And she takes responsibility for all of that. And she’s not someone who just walks the good line. And I like that conflict of somebody veering somewhat on the morally not-so-correct, politically correct side.”

The buzz among showgoers was good, but it turns out that in the early stages of making the film, even some of the “Flux” team had their doubts about whether this cartoon could work as a live-action movie.

“I was very skeptical as to why one would want to replicate the series,” said Marton Csokas, who, as Trevor Goodchild, plays Aeon’s main foe, possible love interest and the ruler of Bregna. Csokas, who hails from New Zealand, had fond memories of the original cartoon. “I loved the animated series in the first instance,” he said. That was part of my post-clubbing 3 a.m. experience many years ago.”

Peter Chung, creator of the original “Aeon Flux” (see “Aeon Flux: Peter Chung’s Adult Entertainment”), was also in San Diego and spoke of his initial uncertainty. “I had been hoping to do an animated feature film, and it took some getting used to the idea of doing live action.”

So what sold them on the concept beyond the magnetic pull of Hollywood?

The answers in San Diego were advances in special-effects technology, a timelessness of the story’s themes of rebellion and the dynamic abilities of a certain Oscar-winning lead actress who has literally transformed her body to give Aeon Flux real flesh.

Theron — who turned herself from South African beauty to white-trash killer for “Monster,” winning an Academy Award in the process — threw herself into the role of Aeon Flux. “It took about a year of my life making this film, and I’ve never really experienced that before,” she said. The star was making her first Comic-Con appearance (see “Jack Black, Natalie Portman, Rob Zombie Animate Comic-Con” ).

To become Aeon Flux she studied the Afro-Brazilian airborne fighting style of capoeira, learned gymnastics from a member of Cirque du Soleil and did some strength training. Theron said she was “trying to be as supple as I could be, because the character was pretty agile.”

For Theron, there were still butterflies about pulling off her action-heroine leap into a science-fiction environment. “I think people know me from dramatic films,” she said. “With this it was really a brand-new world, and that was nerve-wracking to me. So that remained with me every step of the way. I now have stomach ulcers, but that’s all good.”

For all the movie’s expected emphasis on sci-fi action, Theron said the movie’s relevance to today transcends its setting. “The thing you can’t forget when dealing with something that’s futuristic is you’re still dealing with the human aspect and the human spirit,” she said. “You might think that something 400 years from now is really far away, but it’s not. And the reality of it is what’s happening socially today in our world will continue.”

“Aeon Flux” will hit theaters in December. A video game version for PlayStation 2 and Xbox is expected at the same time.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Aeon Flux.”

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