Hall H got a special treat SDCC Saturday, when EW’s annual Women Who Kick Ass panel paid tribute to icon Charlize Theron. The South African actress has had a long, diverse career, and it’s still one that shows no signs of stopping. It was great to hear some candid thoughts about her career, as well as her latest film, Atomic Blonde. The star was in good spirits, offered generous responses and had a good conversation with EW host, Sara Vikomerson.

Here are the best things we learned from Theron:

-Aside from her mother, who she kept bringing up, Theron credits Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley as an early influence, mentioning how the character gave her something to aspire to as a young girl. She also gave a shout-out to Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor.

-Atomic Blonde was a property that her and her production team actively searched for. She wanted to tell a story where a woman could live in and operate within the same rules as men.

-On how most women’s roles are written: They usually don’t gain depth or turn into a warrior until they lose something, i.e. husband or child. She commented that women don’t need lost to be strong, they already are. She was attracted to Atomic Blonde’s Lorraine Broughton because she’s strong without needing a reason to be – she just is.

– Her pet peeves are when characters are easily categorized. She mentioned that there are many different ways to build a character or tell a story, not just easy manipulative emotion. “Of course I’m gonna care for this woman if her husband died…. but can you make me feel that way without telling me that.”

– Atomic Blonde’s major set piece, one that takes place on a stair case (a portion of which was screened) was filmed over a period of three days. It was empowering for her to be able to push herself during filming, as she was able to do things she normally wouldn’t get to do.

-In Atomic Blonde, the action scenes are choreographed around how a woman would actually fight. Physicality varies between men and women, so Lorraine uses her surroundings, and almost never throws a punch (which would hurt in really life). She’s brutal by adapting to surroundings, using weaponry and distributing her body weight in different ways to surprise and gain an upper hand. Theron also didn’t want anyone to come up to her after the film asking, “Could a girl do that?” – they made sure that everything in the film, a girl could definitely do.

– There isn’t a moment in Atomic Blonde where her character is vulnerable because of a man, or because of a decision a man makes.

– She would be excited to return to Furiosa, and called out to George Miller, “I’ll be waiting”

– One of the things she’s most proud of, is her Arrested Development arc

– On her past roles: She can’t pick a single one she likes more, but loves Aileen from Monster, because she shows that humanity is not black and white. She loved doing Niki Caro’s North Country, and had a blast with Snow White’s Ravenna. She joked that she has the crown and still wears it – and that her kids hate it!

– An audience member asked what would definitively solve the gender wage gap, and what can fans do? Theron said that film like Wonder Woman help, and that studios will see that if people show up to films anchored by women, Hollywood will take notice.

-Theron’s closing remarks – “We’re just as good as the guys, plus we have boobs!”

All in all, fun panel, and a great way to pick Theron’s brain for a good hour!

SG