The Real Reason Charlize Theron And Sean Penn Broke Up

Even by Hollywood standards, Sean Penn's romance with fellow Oscar winner Charlize Theron was a fleeting one. For 18 months, the pair were one of Tinsel Town's most high-profile power couples, two genuine A-listers who went from being old friends with common interests to unlikely lovers. Everything looked rosy in the garden for a while, with talk of wedding bells and children beginning to pop up on the rumor mill with increasingly regularity.

Then, all of the sudden, the whole thing came crashing down. The two were last seen as an item at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, an event which (as you're about to find out) has brought the couple nothing bad tidings in their short time together.

So, what actually went down here? Theron received the brunt of the blame in the aftermath of their split, but was the leggy blonde really the only one at fault? This is the real reason Charlize and Sean broke up. 

Sean Penn was way too intense

While Sean Penn's abilities as an actor are rarely called into question, his ventures away from the film world have been known to court criticism. His outspoken left-wing opinions have made him a hero to some, but those on the other side of the political spectrum have gone as far as dubbing him a communist sympathizer, pointing to the way the part-time journalist glorified dictators such as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez in his work.

Whether she agreed with his political leanings or not, Penn's never-ending quest for social justice and equality simply became too much for Charlize Theron to handle, with a source close to the South African beauty revealing her struggle in an exclusive with Hollywood Life. "To be involved with Sean is a full time job. He is a spectacular human being but he can be tiring in his seriousness and lack of having fun," the camp insider revealed. "Charlize was seeing that it was just too intense for her and she needed a breather. She still loves him and respects him to the fullest but she just needed to get out of his intense atmosphere."

Charlize Theron and Sean Penn's romance fizzled out

Although they did hint that it was indeed a major factor in the split, the source that spilled the beans to Hollywood Life also revealed that Sean Penn's overbearing seriousness was just one of the reasons that Charlize Theron decided to call it quits. After more-or-less calling Penn a total buzz kill, the informant went on to give an insight into the couple's romantic life at the end — or the lack of it.

The actors looked very much in love when they were spotted taking in the new year together while vacationing in Hawaii back in 2014, though over the months that followed their unofficial outing as an item it became clear that the initial spark had all but disappeared, at least according to the insider. "She is still very young at heart and he plays things by the book," the insider added, referencing the borderline uncomfortable 15-year age gap between the pair. "The friendship was and is always there but the romance has fizzled, hence her making the decision to call it off."

Charlize Theron reportedly ghosted Sean Penn

After news broke that Charlize Theron had called time on her year and a half relationship with Sean Penn, people got hungry for the details, and the story that emerged was one that was probably equally embarrassing for both parties. According to a source close to Penn, everything came to a head in an instant when the Mad Max: Fury Road star abruptly stopped talking to her then-boyfriend during the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and didn't speak to him again after that, axing him from her life completely.

"Charlize wasn't responding to his calls and texts," the insider exclusively revealed to Us Weekly. "She just cut it off." When the pair were forced to come together at the same event the following year to promote The Last Face (in which Penn directed Theron before they hit Splitsville), their reunion was said to be frosty, with Daily Mail just one of many publications to highlight the fact that the actress was giving her ex some rather icy glances as he spoke during their press conference.

​Charlize Theron claimed the split was mutual

Charlize Theron later refuted the shady accusations that she had callously cut Sean Penn out of her life in a candid interview with WSJ magazine (via E! Online). The frustrated actress let loose during her session with the Wall Street Journal's glossy lifestyle mag, telling them that when it comes to celebrity power couples, the media always feel a need to sensationalize the events of a break up.

"When you leave a relationship there has to be some f****** crazy story or some crazy drama. And the f****** ghosting thing, like literally, I still don't even know what it is. It's just its own beast," she said. After clearing that up (and taking it down a notch), the actress offered up her own version of events, claiming that the decision to bring their relationship to an end was a mutual one. "We were in a relationship and then it didn't work anymore. And we both decided to separate. That's it."

They weren't as close as everybody thought

At one stage it looked as though Sean Penn and Charlize Theron were going to make a real go of it as a family, with reports emerging from various sources that the older actor was about to sign papers making him the legal father of Theron's adopted daughter Jackson (who was later dragged into a gender transition controversy).

A source close to the couple told People (via Hello!) that "Charlize and Sean are very serious [about the adoption]. Charlize says this is it. Jackson already calls Sean daddy. This is the first step towards them getting married." A wedding never came, however, and Theron later explained that the seriousness of their relationship had been gravely exaggerated in the press. "We were very, very new in a relationship. The stories that Sean was going to adopt Jackson and all of that was not true. It's not something that happens in 18 months. You can't do that to a child."

Charlize ​Theron wanted to adopt a second child

Another relationship bombshell that Charlize Theron dropped during her illuminating interview with WSJ (via E! Online) was that she wanted to adopt a second child, and not only that, but that she wanted to do it alone. The actress was full of praise for Sean Penn for the way in which he handled the tricky situation with Jackson, telling the mag that "there was an understanding that I was a single mum with a very young boy who I had to put in a situation where he understood that Mummy dates but that he does not have a father." 

In that spirit, Theron went ahead and made plans to extend her family without Penn, but the blonde stunner insists she made her intentions clear on the subject right from the get-go. "He knew that I was thinking about filing for another adoption but that we weren't filing together." Just a few months after the split, Theron adopted her daughter August.

​Working in the same industry became a strain on Charlize Theron and Sean Penn

Working alongside the love of your life might seem like a dream gig on the surface, but mixing work and pleasure isn't always a sustainable model, as Sean Penn and Charlize Theron found out. The latter confirmed as much when she sat down for an interview with Elle, explaining to the lifestyle mag that working in the same industry as Penn provided as many challenges for her as it did opportunities. "Putting aside that he's my partner, he's the love of my life; for the first time, I felt that my work was really bleeding into my life and that made it hard." 

The South African mother of two revealed that her relationship with Penn became strained at this point, admitting that ultimately they were both to blame for things going south. "There were moments where I was incredibly unfair to him," she confessed. "And moments where I felt like... he was incredibly unfair to me."

Working on a movie together didn't help Sean Penn and Charlize Theron's relationship

When Sean Penn cast Charlize Theron in his highly divisive African aid drama The Last Face, the couple probably envisioned an outcome in which the critics swooned and the message they were trying to get across spread. What happened, though, was the exact opposite. Not only was it roasted in reviews, the film's attempts at highlighting the many ongoing issues in that part of the world got lost in the director's ego. "Penn seems to be begging for credit, for being the type of caring-and-sharing guy to alert our attention to a continent's woes," Tim Robey of Telegraph wrote. "But then he consigns those very woes to thoughtless, backdroppy, vacuous oblivion."

A number of commentators were quick to notice the link between this doomed project and the timing of the Penn-Theron break up. Variety brought together all the online reaction to the film's Cannes premiere, which ended with a chorus of boos from those in attendance, with many people guessing that The Last Face was the final nail in the coffin for the couple. The theories were given further weight when an insider told Radar Online that Theron was ducking her promotional duties, leaving Penn sweating over its release. "The movie flopped at Cannes, so Charlize is right to back away," the insider speculated. The much-maligned flick was eventually picked up for VOD, but its 8% Rotten Tomatoes score essentially tells the beginning and end of its story.

Charlize Theron and Sean Penn spent too long in the friend zone

One factor in the breakdown of their relationship could have been the amount of time that Sean Penn and Charlize Theron spent in the friend zone before actually getting together romantically. The year before they threw in the towel, Theron explained to Esquire (via E!) that she and Penn had known each other for many years and were actually introduced through their former partners. 

"We've been friends for 20 years. He was married, I was in a long-term relationship, our spouses — not regularly, but we were in each other's lives. I think our friendship stemmed from mutual respect — more on my end, because I really didn't have a body of work 20 years ago—but my love and passion for making films, that was our common ground." After two decades of being buddies, their 'more than friends' experiment was always going to be a risky one, and unfortunately it just didn't pan out for the pair.

Charlize Theron never wanted to get married

Charlize Theron spent nine years dating Irish actor Stuart Townsend after she met him on the set of critically panned 2002 thriller Trapped, though in that time she never gave any indication that she was interested in becoming Mrs. Almost-Aragorn. In fact, the actress made her feelings towards marriage clear during an interview with Vogue, revealing that she had never fantasized about her big day. "I mean, I really do understand the importance and what that ceremony represents to so many people, but it's just such a personal thing. Let's put it this way: I never had the dream of the white dress. And watching other people getting married? I think it's beautiful for them, but to be quite honest, usually I'm sitting there just devastated."

Rumors that Theron had undergone a change of heart regarding nuptials started to swirl after a US Weekly exclusive claimed that she had accepted a marriage proposal from Sean Penn during their secretive city break to Paris, and that intensified when she was spotted wearing an 18-karat yellow gold Anita Ko leaf ring on her engagement finger months later. It turned out that the $4,900 band was actually a gift, with a People source confirming that Theron had agreed to no such engagement.