Charlize Theron keeps a super low profile in Hollywood but she’s known as quite the party queen amongst her tight-knit group of friends who say she has a whole lot more fun when the cameras are off than people might realize.

“2024 might be remembered as the year Charlize finally softened up after spending the last 25 years with her foot firmly planted on the gas pedal,” a colleague and friend of the Oscar winner tells Closer exclusively. “I’m not saying Charlize has ‘slowed down’ – that’s not what’s going on. She still loves to work, loves being the star, and loves being the face on the movie poster. She embraces that level of responsibility while enjoying her side gigs of fashion endorsements and occasionally producing projects that she doesn’t star in.”

The insider continues, “But her kids are a little older now and a lot more independent, which has given Charlize a surplus of free time and for once she doesn’t have to rely on her mom as backup 24/7. She’s finally got enough time to really live for herself, and she’s enjoying it!”

Charlize, 48, became a mother when she adopted her daughter Jackson in 2012. Three years later, she grew her family by adopting daughter August. 

“Even when I was in relationships, I was always honest with my partners, that adoption was how my family would look one day,” she told People in 2018 about her decision to adopt. “This was definitely not a second option for me. It was always my first.”

She previously gushed about motherhood saying, “Everything has changed!”

“When I became a mother, I had already wanted it for a long time. I craved motherhood, and I was incredibly invested in it. It’s not easy to adopt, even when you’re a celebrity. But when I held my children in my arms, I was happier than I ever expected to be,” she told Elle in 2016. “Today, motherhood is a source of joy every single day, something stronger than everything else, more powerful than my career.”

While the South Africa native is a very hands-on mom to her two preteen daughters, often sharing photos of their family adventures and travels, the source notes, “She has this party animal side and loves to laugh and joke around!”

“Even if you don’t really see that in public or even in her movies, it’s a huge part of her actual personality and now it’s got some breathing room. It’s reinvigorated her and lightened her up, and that makes her a lot easier to be around.”