Charlize Theron is unquestionably a badass.
The South African-born model and actress, whose life story features some astounding highs and lows—she won the Oscar for Monster, but her father, himself a monster, was shot to death by her mother when Charlize was 15—is a true headstrong beauty in the old-Hollywood style. She's also a formidable actress. And as it turns out, she's one of the few women who can take a fashion or fragrance commercial—that notorious vehicle of anti-narrative and empty style—and actually make it interesting.
For example: Theron's new international Dior J'adore fragrance spot below, created by TBWA\Paris and director Jean-Jacques Annaud. Like all fragrance advertising, it's pretty much entirely about style over substance. But by sheer force of personality, while scarcely saying a word, Theron lifts it above the eyes-glazed-over category norms. The setting doesn't hurt—this was reportedly the first commercial filmed inside the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, which lends immediate luxury and grandeur. The story is all but nonexistent—a last-minute guest at a fashion show turns out to be one of the runway models. But Theron is magnetic enough to cut through the air of faux mystery and make a memorable impact. She also has some wonderful co-conspirators—digitized cameos by Hollywood beauties of yesteryear like Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich. To another actress, that might be intimidating. But Theron fits right in—impressive in its own right.
In the press release, TBWA\Paris CEO Guillaume Pannaud says: "Our wish was to make everyone take part in a timeless, mythical and contemporary adventure, embodying the values of Dior. To help us achieve this task between dream and reality, we have chosen to put our trust into the hands of filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud, who has risen to the challenge in a most remarkable way."
But really, it's the actress he should be thanking.
Product: J'adore fragrance
Executive Creative Director: Eric Holden, Rémi Noël
Creative Director: Sophie Guyon assisted by Stéphanie Ragot
TV Producer: Maxime Boiron, Hervé Dommange
Production: Wanda Production
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Photography Director: Darius Khondji
Producer: Patrick Barbier
Production Director: François Lamotte
Production Coordinator: Julien Floutard
Production and sound design: \Else
Postproduction: Mikros Image