Charlize Theron
Charlize Theron, pictured May 23, 2017 at the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival in France, the 'Atomic Blonde' opens up about the time her mother had killed her alcoholic father. Getty Images

Academy-award winning actor Charlize Theron opened up about a "horrible" childhood experience on "The Howard Stern Show" Wednesday, telling the radio personality the story of how her mother was forced to murder her father out of self-defense. Thereon, who grew up in Benoni, South Africa, claimed she never knew what to expect as a child dependent on her dad because of his alcoholism.

The interview with Stern was, in part, promotion for Theron's upcoming film "Atomic Blonde." However, the 41-year-old was willing to provide details about her family's battle with her father, claiming she didn't know how to initially react following the night of his death. Theron was 15 years old at the time of the shooting and is an only child.

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"I just pretended like it didn’t happen. I didn’t tell anybody — I didn’t want to tell anybody. Whenever anybody asked me, I said 'my dad died in a car accident,'" Theron told Stern. "Who wants to tell that story? Nobody wants to tell that story."

Theron was initially worried about how people would react to the news, claiming she didn't want to be made to "feel like a victim." She claimed she struggled with the thought of being a victim for years. She had thought she was traumatized by her father's death but realized that she "was actually O.K."

Theron said her mother, Gerda Aletta, is "incredible" and admires her decision and bravery.

"Her philosophy was 'This is horrible. Acknowledge that this is horrible. Now make a choice. Will this define you? Are you going to sink or are you going to swim?' That was it,'" Theron said. "I think both of us have dealt with that night really well. I think both of us still have to deal with the life that we had — and that’s what people don’t really realize. It’s not just about what happened one night."

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For much of her career, Theron had revealed little information about her father, Charles Theron, and his battle with alcoholism and eventual death. She had previously opened up about her parents' troubled marriage to ABC News' Diane Sawyer in 2004, saying the shooting happened when she returned home from boarding school. She said she "knew something bad was going to happen" that night.

"It's not just about me," Theron told Sawyer. "If it was just about me, I think I could talk about it." She then added that her mother "has never asked to be in the spotlight, and she's never asked for any of this."

Theron's father and uncle returned home after an evening of drinking, reportedly drunk and agitated. He began to bang on the doors of their house angrily and fire his gun, which is a common household item amongst South Africans. He then banged on Theron's bedroom door, saying, "Tonight I'm going to kill you both with the shotgun." Her mother protected her, using self-defense to shoot her husband and his brother dead.

"The terrible thing is that everybody in South Africa has a gun," Theron said. "You shouldn't have those things around because when people get irrational and emotional and drunk, terrible things can happen."

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