Charlize Theron opens up about her traumatic childhood when her mother shot and killed her abusive father

Charlize Theron has strived of late to take on roles that redefine the action genre.

From her crowd-pleasing role as the defiant Imperator Furiosa in "Mad Max: Fury Road," to now playing the butt-kicking spy Lorraine Broughton in "Atomic Blonde" (opening Friday), the Oscar winner has quickly become one of the leading voices in pushing Hollywood to think outside the box about parts it gives actresses.

But being strong-willed is nothing new for the Theron. In a revealing New York Times profile, Theron opened up about one of the most traumatic moments in her life: when her mother killed her father in self-defense.

It's a story Theron rarely brings up while doing press, for obvious reasons. But for the Times, Theron did go into some detail about the event, and how her family rebounded from it.

"I survived that, and I'm proud of that," Theron said. "I've worked hard for that, too. And I am not scared of that. I am not fearful of the darkness. If anything, I am intrigued by it, because I think it explains human nature and people better."

The shooting occurred when Theron was 15 and living in her native South Africa. One night, when her verbally abusive alcoholic father came home with his brother after drinking heavily, he threatened her mother with a gun. He began shooting and Theron's mother grabbed her gun and shot back, killing Theron's father and wounding his brother. Police later determined it was self-defense.

See photos from the "Atomic Blonde" premiere:

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'Atomic Blonde' premiere: Red carpet arrivals
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'Atomic Blonde' premiere: Red carpet arrivals
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Charlize Theron attends the premiere Of Focus Features' 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Actress Charlize Theron attends the premiere of 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Chelsea Handler attends the premiere Of Focus Features' 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: (L-R) Reality television personalities Ashley Iaconetti and Dean Unglert attend the premiere of Focus Features' 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Aisha Tyler attends the premiere Of Focus Features' 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Director David Leitch attends the premiere of 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Kristin Johns attends the premiere Of Focus Features' 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Actor Sam Hargrave attends the premiere of 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Liane Valenzuela attends the premiere Of Focus Features' 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Jared Summer attends the premiere of Focus Features' 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Lily Marston attends the premiere of 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Divani Vasil attends the premiere of 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Jody Steel attends the premiere of Focus Features' 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: (L-R) Actress Alexys Gabrielle and recording artist Cody Johns attend the premiere of Focus Features' 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Monique Ganderton attends the premiere of 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Jaime Soliz attends the premiere of Focus Features' 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Joslyn Davis attends the premiere of Focus Features' 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Don Benjamin attends the premiere of 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Kelsey Darragh attends the premiere of 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Lilly Singh attends the premiere of 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Manon Mathews attends the premiere of 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Actress Tiffany Smith attends the premiere of 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Fitness personality Lisa Paul Newman attends the premiere of Focus Features' 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 24: Actor Daniel Bernhardt (R) and wife Lisa Stothard (L) attend the premiere of Focus Features' 'Atomic Blonde' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on July 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
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For teenage Theron, the aftermath was worse than the incident, due to her family life being in complete turmoil.

"That was my entire childhood," Theron said. "My trauma was all of that."

Once she got into acting in the 1990s, and got out of the cookie-cutter roles that focused on her looks, she began to take on challenging roles that featured her playing complex women. Though she doesn't link all those roles back to what she went through as a teen, she also adds, ""I mean, you'd be an idiot not to put it together...."

An obvious connection is her Oscar-winning role as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in 2003's "Monster," who claimed her killings were due to being raped when she was a prostitute.

"People like Aileen Wuornos that people just want to label and, like, shove under a rug," Theron said. "Nobody wants to examine that human. Nobody wants to look at that person and say, 'But why did this happen?' I'm fascinated by the why. Because in many ways, I am here today because of the why."

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See photos of Charlize Theron through the years:

26 PHOTOS
Charlize Theron through the years
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Charlize Theron through the years
HOLLYWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 27: (L-R) TV personality/comedian Chelsea Handler (L) and actress Charlize Theron attend amfAR's Inspiration Gala at Milk Studios on October 27, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Tachman/Getty Images for amfAR)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Charlize Theron attends amfAR's Inspiration Gala Los Angeles at Milk Studios on October 27, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 21: Actress Charlize Theron arrives at the premiere of DIRECTV's 'Dark Places' at Harmony Gold Theatre on July 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 18: Actress Charlize Theron attends the launch of UNAIDS New Fast Track Report ahead of World AIDS Day 2014 at UCLA on November 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Buchan/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA- OCTOBER 17: Actress Charlize Theron arrives at the Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts Inaugural Gala at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on October 17, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.(Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Charlize Theron attends the Annual Charlize Theron African Outreach project at The Darby Restaurant on December 6, 2010 in New York City.
PROTECTIVE REPEAT: US actress Charlize Theron poses for a picture at the official grand opening party for the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai on November 20, 2008. Dubai is threw a multi-million-dollar extravaganza today to launch a luxury hotel on an artificial palm-shaped island, despite the bite from the global financial crisis. More than 2,000 world celebrities are due to attend the event which is set to also include a firework display seven times larger than the Olympic display in Beijing, according to the event organisers. AFP PHOTO/KARIM SAHIB (Photo credit should read KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 11: Actress Charlize Theron attends the premiere of 'Sleepwalking' hosted by The Cinema Society and Dior Beauty at the Tribeca Grand Screening Room on March 11, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, United States: Best Actress Charlize Theron poses with her trophy at the 76th Academy Awards ceremony 29 February, 2004 at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, CA. Theron won for 'Monster.' AFP PHOTO Jeff HAYNES (Photo credit should read Jeff HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 16: Actress Charlize Theron attends the premiere of 'The Truth About Charlie' at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre on October 16, 2002 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Actress Charlize Theron attends the 26th Annual People's Choice Awards on January 9, 2000 at Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actress Charlize Theron attends the 'Mighty Joe Young' Santa Monica Premiere on December 10, 1998 at Cineplex Odeon Broadway 4 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actress Charlize Theron attends the '2 Days in the Valley' Westwood Premiere on September 20, 1996 at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 08: Actress Charlize Theron poses at the photo call For Focus Features' 'Kubo And The Two Strings' at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on July 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 08: Actress Charlize Theron attends a reunion for 'Two Days In The Valley' at NeueHouse Hollywood on July 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 20: Charlize Theron attends the screening of 'The Last Face' at the annual 69th Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 20, 2016 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Luca Teuchmann/WireImage)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 20: Charlize Theron attends during a press conference for 'The Last Face' during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival, in Cannes, France, May 20, 2016. (Photo by Murat Unlu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 20: Charlize Theron attends the 'The Last Face' Photocall at the annual 69th Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 20, 2016 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 20: Adele Exarchopoulos and Charlize Theron attend the screening of 'The Last Face' at the annual 69th Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 20, 2016 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Luca Teuchmann/WireImage)
WESTWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 11: Charlize Theron arrives at the Premiere Of Universal Pictures' 'The Huntsman: Winter's War' on April 11, 2016 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
WESTWOOD, CA - APRIL 11: Actress Charlize Theron arrives at the premiere of Universal Pictures' 'The Huntsman: Winter's War' on April 11, 2016 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
BURBANK, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 09: Charlize Theron arrives at the 2016 MTV Movie Awards at Warner Bros. Studios on April 9, 2016 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
INGLEWOOD, CA - APRIL 07: Actress Charlize Theron walks the WE Carpet at WE Day California 2016 at The Forum on April 7, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actress Charlize Theron arrives at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actress Charlize Theron arrives at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)
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