Charlize Theron wasn't necessarily looking for love, but she found it nonetheless. Speaking with Jonathan Van Meter for the June issue of Vogue—in which she appears both in a bikini and on a jet ski—the A Million Ways to Die in the West actress opened up for the first time about how her romance with longtime pal Sean Penn began.
Though reluctant at first to delve into her personal life—she said she doesn't know "how you have a healthy relationship with the whole world knowing about it"—Theron ultimately let Van Meter in on the origins of her much talked-about relationship. (She and Penn have been making headlines ever since they were first spotted in Hawaii together over New Year's.)
"What I will say is, I was single for a really long time. I was enjoying mommyhood," the Oscar-winning actress, 38, told Vogue of life with son Jackson, 2, whom she adopted in 2012. "You just naturally become kind of selfish about your time, and all of it is dedicated to this little thing, whether he needs it or not."
Eventually, though, the single star recognized that there was "this passionate creature" inside her. But she didn't want to share it with just anyone. "I know so well what I want to fit in my life," she explained. "And the simple answer to that is: Unless he can make my life better? My life is really pretty f--king good."
Enter, fellow Oscar winner Penn, 53, whose exes include former spouses Robin Wright and Madonna, plus Scarlett Johansson. "What I guess I am trying to say is: A friend kind of stepped into that role, and I really didn't see it coming," Theron (who dated actor Stuart Townsend for nine years) told Vogue of her beau. "Sean and I have known each other for 18 years. We were just really good friends. And it's been slow going because you are aware that you could screw that up and lose it."
She continued: "We had to think about it. But at the end of the day, it was somewhat effortless. It just kind of naturally happened, and before I knew it, I was in something that was making my life better—the people who really love me can see the effect it has had on me."