Going into awards season, few films are generating as much interest and pre-release buzz as BOMBSHELL, Jay Roach's true-story dramatization about the misconduct allegations that brought down media tycoon Roger Ailes, played in the film by John Lithgow under heavy make-up.
Anchored by a trifecta of performances by Charlize Theron (as Megyn Kelly), Nicole Kidman (as Gretchen Carlson) and Margot Robbie as a composite character representing several real-life accusers, and filled out by a long list of amazing female performers including Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Alice Eve, Allison Janney and Ashley Greene, the movie looks to be a scathing takedown. not only of the situation at Fox News, but of many all-powerful men who use and abuse their position of power in grotesque ways. BOMBSHELL is ready to take them all down.
At a recent New York screening of the film attended by the Hollywood Reporter, Theron admitted to being "scared" of taking on the role of Kelly, since she was both "incredibly well known" and "conflicting." She received the encouragement she needed from Roach, who had read the script but hadn't yet officially signed on to direct. "I was looking for a filmmaker to push me to that last part, and he did it so eloquently that I asked him to join us in making this," Theron said at the screening.
The star's fears were alleviated when she found out that the movie, written by Charles Randolph, one of the Oscar-winning screenwriters of THE BIG SHORT, would only cover a single year of Kelly's experience, and not her entire life as it probably would in a traditional biopic. "We tend to live in that world and we think we know people and we have our preconceived ideas of them," she said at the screening. "And as an actor, you have to have that ability to put all of that aside and do research and to actually find out about somebody." Theron said that she hopes Kelly eventually sees the movie, and considering how much people are already talking about BOMBSHELL, that seems like an inevitability.
While, yes, most of the characters in BOMBSHELL stand on one side of the political spectrum, director Jay Roach wants to make sure that the film isn't playing to a single audience. As he said at the New York screening, "sexual harassment is not a partisan issue." Theron, at the same event, said: "I think we so underestimate the devastation of literally just being a woman and sitting in a room with men and feeling like it is your job to make yourself a little smaller to make them feel good about themselves. And I think that there’s a level of forgiveness, or that we just don’t even address that. We don’t even think that it’s damaging." Theron continued: "That is [what is] so important about this film, because so many women stepped forward and said it was that everyday grind of feeling like if you were a little too tall, if you lived a little too close to your potential, that that was threatening, and that somebody would bring you down."
Theron also connected the film to the powerful #MeToo movement that is sweeping the industry. "There is a wave happening right now that sets this apart," Theron said at the event, reported by Variety, adding, "I don’t want my daughters to go through [sexual harassment]. We don’t want our sisters to go through that. We don’t want our mothers to go through that. We just want to be able to go to work and feel safe."
While appearing on Ellen DeGeneres' daytime talk show, Theron, who also produced the film, described nabbing Robbie and Kidman (who were sitting beside her) for the BOMBSHELL cast as "a dream come true."
"We were talking about how rare this is, where you get to work with so many women, where you get to have an experience where you get to work with people who you so admire and not just see them on the red carpet but get to work with them," Theron said. Ellen then joked that Robbie, who didn't have to undergo the sort of extensive make-up used for Lithgow, Theron and Kidman, must have spent hours in the make-up chair. "I had false eyelashes, they did some contouring," Robbie joked. "I suffer for my art." Between the jokes, Ellen applauded how the production's focus, and urged everyone to see the movie — which we'll all be able to do, just before Christmas.
All images courtesy of Lionsgate.