By Liam Berry, People
July 21, 2017

This article originally appeared on People.com. 

Ahead of the much-anticipated release of her new film Atomic Blonde, Charlize Theron opened up to Howard Stern about one of the hardest times in her life: growing up with an alcoholic father.

Theron has previously revealed some of the details of her family’s harrowing experience dealing with her father’s addiction, including what it was like when her mother shot and killed her father in self-defense. Theron told Stern she didn’t really know how to react at the time. “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. Who wants to tell that story? Nobody wants to tell that story.”

Theron was also worried about people’s reaction to the terrible events. “They don’t know how to respond to that. And I didn’t want to feel like a victim. I struggled with that for many years until I actually started therapy.”

Therapy, however, was no easy process  and she didn’t start it until her “late 20s, early 30s.” She admitted to Stern that ultimately, it wasn’t the incident of her father’s death that traumatized her. “I thought I did great. It turned out, I was actually okay about [her father’s death].”

Instead, Theron, 41, says she struggled with the everyday nightmare of growing up with such an unpredictable  figure in the house. “I think what more affected me for my adult life that happened in my childhood was more the every day living of a child living in the house with an alcoholic and waking up not knowing what was going to happen. And not knowing how my day was going to go and all of it dependent on somebody else and whether he was not going to drink or drink.”

She added that her mother was similarly thick-skinned about the incident, praising her selfless resilience. “I have an incredible mother… She’s a huge inspiration in my life. She’s never really had therapy. So a mother who never really had therapy dealing with something like that — trying to get your child out of that. 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 added; “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.”

Atomic Blonde hits theaters July 28.

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