11/30/2011 09:35 am ET | Updated Jan 30, 2012

Out to Lunch With Charlize Theron

It is hard to feel sorry for Charlize Theron. The Academy Award-winning actress, for the role of Aileen Wuomos in Monster when she was famously puffed up and made up to emphasize the serial killer's tough look, is in fact very pretty, like the most popular girl in your high school. The gorgeous blond of your fantasy who has everything, is exactly the role she plays as Mavis Gary, a writer of young adult fiction loosely based on her memories of teen glory in Mercury, Minnesota, in Jason Reitman's Young Adult, script by Diablo Cody. And yet, her behavior trying to snatch back her happily married boyfriend is so unspeakable, you find her a pitiable, abject, lonely, delusional masochist and alcoholic who self-mutilates pulling out her hair. Ech!

Which is not to say that Young Adult is without many pleasures. As her co-star Patton Oswalt put it at a Q&A following a weekend screening: it's a horror movie. She's like the shark in Jaws. Once you see the fin, you know it's going to end badly.

About Reitman's direction, Theron said he had asked her to divulge women's secrets; more shooting time was spent in a spa, waxing, manicuring and pedicuring, than at any other location. Primping, she was a warrior preparing for battle. In one hilarious scene before a date, her character puts soft plastic cups on her breasts, increasing their fullness. Referring to these newfangled falsies as chicken cutlets, Theron told a real-life story about once making out with a guy and thinking it would go farther so she removed her chicken cutlets and, realizing they would not fit into her clutch, put them in his garbage. (They did not go farther.)

On Monday, celebrating the Gotham Awards tribute to her career, actors Bob Balaban, Celia Weston, Bob Dishy, Chazz Palminteri and others joined Jason Reitman, Theron's production partner Beth Kono, and her mother Gerda Maritz for a luncheon at Rouge Tomate. The actress chatted breezily, admiring Meryl Streep's fashion freedom and revealing her preoccupations as a foodie. On the menu: Amish country chicken "en cocotte," looking remarkably like grilled, eh, chicken cutlets.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.