Charlize Theron initially pretended her father's death ''didn't happen.''

The 41-year-old actress was just a young girl when her mother Gerda shot dead her alcoholic dad Charles in self-defence after he threatened them both while drunk and, although she's now come to terms with the incident, she initially found it easier to block it from her memory rather than dwell on it and feel sorry for herself.

Speaking on 'The Howard Stern Show', she said: ''I just pretended like it didn't happen. I didn't tell anybody -- I didn't want to tell anybody. Whenever anybody asked me, I said my dad died in a car accident. Who wants to tell that story? Nobody wants to tell that story. They don't know how to respond to that. And I didn't want to feel like a victim. I struggled with that for many years until I actually started therapy.''

However, the blonde beauty didn't actually start therapy until her late 20s, early 30s.

She explained: ''I thought I did great. It turned out, I was actually okay about [her father's death]. I think what more affected me for my adult life that happened in my childhood was more the every day living of a child living in the house with an alcoholic and waking up not knowing what was going to happen.

''And not knowing how my day was going to go and all of it dependent on somebody else and whether he was not going to drink or drink.''

Charlize - who has children Jackson and August - also heaped praise on her mother, who wasn't charged with murder as the shooting was deemed self-defence.

She said: ''I have an incredible mother... She's a huge inspiration in my life. She's never really had therapy. So a mother who never really had therapy dealing with something like that -- trying to get your child out of that. Her philosophy was 'This is horrible. Acknowledge that this is horrible. Now make a choice. Will this define you? Are you going to sink or are you going to swim?' That was it.

''I think both of us have dealt with that night really well. I think both of us still have to deal with the life that we had -- and that's what people don't really realise. It's not just about what happened one night.''