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Charlize Theron takes on the role of former Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly in Lionsgate’s Bombshell. After the film’s first official screening at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles on Oct. 13, she was asked if she thought Kelly, considered by many a divisive character, was portrayed as a hero in the film.
“I don’t think I’ve ever chased playing heroes. I’m interested in playing people who are complicated and flawed and make mistakes. Because I relate — a lot,” she said. “Whether she’s a hero or not — that’s not really a question I ever asked myself.”
Bombshell, directed by Jay Roach and written by Charles Randolph, puts Kelly and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) at the center of the story about the Fox News reporters who brought forth sexual harassment allegations against founder Roger Ailes, but doesn’t shy away from the complicated nature of the women’s stories.
“All of the women played very different roles, and did things very differently … Women don’t always do the right thing. And sometimes, we fuck each other over,” added Theron during a post-screening Q&A. “She was late to the party. She really was. That’s just a fact.”
The screening brought out plenty of celebrity guests, including Andie McDowell, Diane Lane, Sophia Bush, Cara Delevingne and famed attorney Gloria Allred. At the Q&A, Theron, who also produced the project, was joined by Roach, Randolph, Kidman and Margot Robbie.
Kidman told the audience she was on the set of the second season of Big Little Lies when she received the script. “I was sitting on the set with Meryl Streep. And I asked her, ‘Should I play Gretchen Carlson?’ And she said, ‘absolutely.’” Kidman added that she’s glad that Carlson has “been given her due” when it comes to getting attention for the efforts she put forth to bring attention to the harassment she suffered at the news organization.
Roach revealed that many of the real women who’d been at Fox News spoke with him and Randolph, breaking their NDAs to speak to them. From those stories, he was able to mine key details, such as the fact that Ailes would ask aspiring reporters he met with to do a little spin for him, which Roach described as “one of the creepiest details.’ He adds: “I almost thought the movie could have been called The Spin.”
Theron, for her part, says she immediately signed on to produce the film (which will open in theaters on Dec. 20) but it took her longer to agree to play Kelly. “There was a lot for me to wrap my head around. She’s just so known.” But Theron’s transformative performance was the talk of the audience after the screening, both for the physical transformation that made her look almost exactly like Kelly, to her voice and the performance itself.
“Finding her emotional beats was different than any other woman I’ve ever played. She almost becomes harder when she gets emotional,” said Theron. “She doesn’t hand anything over very easily. You have to work for it.”
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