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Charlize Theron Reveals a Trail of Tragedy and Secrets in Her New Thriller Dark Places: Watch an Exclusive Sneak Peek

07/27/2015 AT 02:00 PM EDT

Charlize Theron is venturing to agonizingly Dark Places in her latest film, a chilling adaptation of the best-selling novel by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn.

In Dark Places, Theron plays Libby Day, a gravely troubled woman still reeling from the ruthless murder of her mother and sisters when she was only 8 years old. Though her testimony sent her accused brother to jail, Day finds herself revisiting the crime 25 years later, uncovering a deeper well of ache and confusion than she ever expected.

In a preview of the film that offers commentary from the cast, Theron recalls, "I knew going in that I was kind of up against a wall. This character was written 5'2" and red hair. So for me it became very important right from the beginning to figure out a way to get the essence of her across."

Theron's costars include Nicholas Hoult, Christina Hendricks, Chloe Grace Moretz, Corey Stoll and Drea de Matteo.



Dark Places' filmmakers single out their leading lady's versatile portrayal of Day. Producer Cathy Schulman says, "All of her performances have shown some kind of a strange combination of inner pain and absolute vulnerability."

"I just think she has that right amount of toughness to her," adds Flynn.

Theron has herself been touched by tragedy as a youngster. When she was 15, her mother, Gerda, killed her father, Charles, allegedly in self-defense.

In April, Theron spoke to TF1 about the similarities between her own past and her character's.

"There's definitely an acknowledgement on my part that I did experience a very traumatic experience, an event, in my life. And somehow it's formed me," she told the network. "In the film, my character goes through this event when she's 8 years old, and it really is examining what a trauma like that will do to a child, especially when she's expected to speak about it. And that's definitely something that I can relate to. That's definitely something I've experienced in my life."

Dark Places is now exclusively available on DirecTV and hits theaters Aug. 7.
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