Charlize Theron on a mission to defy gender norms in Atomic Blonde

The 41-year-old actress says she saw 'potential' in her character

Cast member Charlize Theron poses on the red carpet as she arrives for the world premiere and screening of the movie 'Atomic Blonde' in Berlin, Germany, July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
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Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron says she hopes to even the playing field in the male-dominated spy film genre with her latest role as a deadly agent in action-thriller movie Atomic Blonde.

"I saw potential in this character," Theron, 41, said at the Berlin premiere of her latest film on Monday.

"I wanted to explore a woman in this world and have her kind of play with the same set of rules that men get to play in," added the actress, who won an Academy Award for her role as a serial killer in the 2003 film Monster.

Atomic Blonde, based on Antony Johnston's graphic novel series The Coldest City and out in theatres on July 28, follows MI6's lethal assassin Lorraine Broughton (Theron) in Berlin in 1989.

Broughton is on a mission to recover a list of double agents, in a city simmering with revolution and double-crossing hives of traitors.

Spy movies have been dominated by male leads, such as the James Bond, Mission Impossible and Bourne franchise.

Theron, who shows off her physical fighting prowess in the role, says "the skill of this was definitely a challenge. I wanted people to believe that she was that good".