Apega / WENN 1 / 50

After spending her formative years on a farm with a goat for a best friend, she hightailed it to Milan after a modeling contest yielded a modeling offer there. She grew tired of being seen, but not heard after a year and moved to New York to pursue ballet at the Joffrey School. By 1994, sidelined from dancing by a knee injury, she had moved to LA and got discovered while throwing a fit at the bank. After being passed over for the Elizabeth Berkeley role in "Showgirls," she punched (Literally!) her way into being noticed during a fight scene with Teri Hatcher in "2 Days In The Valley." Her good looks and killer body helped her secure many roles early on ("Mighty Joe Young," "Aeon Flux," "Celebrity") but when she plays down the pretty like in "The Devil's Advocate," she does some of her best work. She was barely recognizable as the 30 pounds-heavier, browless, real-life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in "Monster" (2003) and won the Best Actress Oscar. The actress gave another nominated plain-Jane performance in 2005's "North Country." Having proven herself, she now gets the pick of the extremely varied litter ("Hancock," "Young Adult," "Prometheus," "Snow White And The Huntsman"). Her onscreen passion flows into her personal politics. She supports PETA's no-fur campaigns and declared she wouldn't marry her nine-year sweetheart Stuart Townsend until gay marriage was legal. It became a moot point when he and Theron, who also seriously dated Third Eye Blind singer Stephen Jenkins, broke up in 2010. She didn't let singledom stand in the way of becoming a mom. In 2012, she adopted a baby boy named Jackson.