'Bombshell': See the Actors and Their Fox News Counterparts

10:29 AM 10/3/2018

by Christi Carras

John Lithgow, Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Allison Janney, Margot Robbie and Kate McKinnon are among the Roger Ailes film's A-list cast.

Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theorn -Split- NEW-Getty - H 2018
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Annapurna has all but assembled its cast of media players for its upcoming film about the women of Fox News who took a stand against the network's toxic male culture and its late chairman Roger Ailes: Bombshell.

Charlize Theron, who has also signed on to produce the feature directed by Jay Roach, was the first to join the cast as former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. A stream of A-list talent has since followed, including The Crown's John Lithgow as Ailes and Nicole Kidman as former news anchor Gretchen Carlson.

As chairman of the network, Ailes helped launch the careers of Kelly and Carlson. But as several reports of Ailes' sexual misconduct toward Kelly, Carlson and more surfaced, the powerful media mogul was forced to resign in 2016. The film, written by The Big Short's Charles Randolph, will explore the scandal, with more actors stepping into the roles of Fox News' key players, such as Susan Estrich, Rupert Murdoch and Greta Van Susteren.

The latest trailer sees Kidman's Carlson and Margot Robbie's Kayla Pospisil deal with inappropriate behavior from Ailes, while Charlize Theron's Megyn Kelly tackles the derogatory headlines she received during the 2016 presidential election. 

Read on for more about the cast and who they are playing. 

The movie hits theaters Dec. 20.

Oct. 16, 2019: Updated with casting news and trailer.

  • John Lithgow, playing Roger Ailes

    Fresh off his award-winning stint as Winston Churchill in Netflix's The Crown, Lithgow has signed on to portray the disgraced late former chairman of Fox News. During his time at the network's helm, Ailes made stars out of network personalities like Kelly, Carlson and Sean Hannity and was also extremely influential in Republican politics. But his reputation was compromised when more than six women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct. Lithgow was recently seen in the 2019 adaptation of Stephen King's Pet Sematary and Late Night, written by Mindy Kaling.

  • Nicole Kidman, playing Gretchen Carlson

    Kidman is leading the charge as one of the first women to accuse Ailes of sexual misconduct. The former anchor filed a lawsuit against Ailes in 2016 claiming that the network fired her in retaliation for refusing Ailes' advances. Before exiting Fox, Carlson co-hosted Fox & Friends along with Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade. Kidman starred in another Annapurna pic, Destroyer, this year — for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination. Following the release of Bombshell, the actress will appear in Ryan Murphy's The Prom, an adaptation of the Broadway musical for Netflix. 

  • Charlize Theron, playing Megyn Kelly

    Playing Kelly in the Ailes biopic will be Theron's latest turn in a wave of feminist projects, including the spy thriller Atomic Blonde and the motherhood comedy Tully. As reports of Ailes' sexual misconduct began flooding in, Fox News reportedly pressured Kelly to speak out on his behalf. Instead, Kelly came forward with her own allegations of unwanted sexual advances from Ailes, becoming one of his most prominent accusers. The former lawyer worked at the network for more than a decade, eventually hosting her own hit show, The Kelly Files. She left Fox for NBC News in early 2017 after conflicts with host Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, and then parted ways with NBC in early 2019 following the controversial comments she made about the origins of blackface during a segment on Megyn Kelly Today. The journalist makes her return to Fox News on Oct. 16 as a guest on Tucker Carlson Tonight — a one-time appearance, according to the network. Theron was recently seen in the Jonathan Levine comedy Long Shot, alongside Seth Rogen, Alexander Skarsgard, Randall Park and Andy Serkis. The actress also voices a role in the The Addams Family feature adaptation, currently in theaters. 

  • Allison Janney, playing Susan Estrich

    Janney is on a hot streak when it comes to portraying real women, coming off her 2018 supporting actress Oscar win for playing Tonya Harding's mother, LaVona, in I, Tonya. In Bombshell, the actress will take on the role of Ailes' attorney, Susan Estrich, who defended the media mogul against incoming harassment charges. Janney recently received her third consecutive Emmy nomination for her work in the CBS sitcom Mom, and appeared in recent films Troop Zero, Ma and Bad Education. She also voices a role in The Addams Family. 

  • Margot Robbie

    The second I, Tonya alumna to join the cast, Robbie is set to play an associate producer at Fox News. In the most recent trailer, her character and Kidman's Carlson deal with inappropriate behavior from Ailes. Later on, she begs Ailes to let her move in front of the camera because she'd be "freaking phenomenal," to which he replies, "I could pluck you out and move you in front of the line but I need to know that you're loyal. I need you to find a way to prove it." The Wolf of Wall Street breakout's recent film credits include period drama Mary Queen of Scots with Saoirse Ronan and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, in which she portrayed Sharon Tate in the Quentin Tarantino reimagining of Hollywood's Golden Age before Tate was murdered by the Manson family. In upcoming projects, the Australian actress is set to reprise her Suicide Squad role as the villainous Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey, an untitled project featuring Quinn and the Joker, and Gotham City Sirens.


  • Kate McKinnon

    In September, the Saturday Night Live star became the latest to join the cast as a producer at Fox News. Her role is reportedly not based on a real person. Currently, McKinnon can still be seen on SNL, for which she just earned an Emmy nomination. Her recent film roles include the summer comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me alongside Mila Kunis; and Danny Boyle's musical comedy Yesterday. McKinnon has also been cast as Elizabeth Holmes in Hulu's The Dropout. 

  • Malcolm McDowell, playing Rupert Murdoch

    McDowell will take the helm as News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, who hired Ailes as Fox News chairman and has built his own reputation for political involvement. Murdoch later stepped in as Fox News CEO after Ailes' controversial exit from the media company. McDowell recently lent his voice to Disney's Star Wars Rebels series and starred in the fourth season of Amazon's Mozart in the Jungle. His upcoming projects include Just Noise, opposite Harvey Keitel.

  • Alanna Ubach as Jeanine Pirro

    The Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce actress will portray the former Republican politician turned Fox News anchor. After a short run against Hillary Clinton for the Republican United States Senate seat, Pirro later became the host of Fox News' Justice with Judge Jeanine in 2011. Ubach also stars alongside Zendaya in HBO's substance drama Euphoria, and has been cast in Legally Blonde 3.

  • Connie Britton, playing Beth Ailes

    Britton is tackling the role of Beth (Elizabeth) Ailes, who was married to Roger Ailes from his early days at Fox News all the way up to his allegations of sexual harassment. The Emmy nominated actress was recently seen on television in Smilf and Dirty John, and will follow up Bombshell with roles in the features Promising Young Woman and Good Joe Bell

  • Mark Duplass, playing Douglas Brunt

    The actor takes on Douglas Brunt, husband to Megyn Kelly — the two have been married since 2008. Brunt is a former CEO of cybersecurity firm Authentium and has written several novels. Duplass, who frequently works in both film and television, voices a role in animated series Big Mouth on Netflix and was last seen in the movie Paddleton, which he also wrote with director Alex Lehmann.