In an interview alongside co-stars Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie for W magazine, the film’s lead producer and star talked about taking on the role of the outspoken Kelly, who was at the cable news network for 12 years before exiting for NBC News. She also had detailed experiencing alleged sexual harassment at the hands of executive Roger Ailes. During her time at the network, however, she gained notoriety for putting pressure on then-candidate Donald Trump during a presidential debate. It was then that Theron said she first noticed Kelly as well.
“I loved when Megyn took it to Trump. I admired her sharpness, her wit. She was fearless. But when my production company received the script for Bombshell, I was conflicted about playing her,” Theron admitted. “I personally felt uncomfortable with some of the stuff that she’s said.”
Soon after leaving Fox News, Kelly joined NBC, where she had her own daytime talk show, Megyn Kelly Today. It was just over a year after first premiering when it was canceled after a series of missteps, including an episode where Kelly defended blackface for Halloween costumes. Still, Theron said that she relates to the criticism that the journalist has received as a woman with strong beliefs that she typically acts on.
“Ultimately, I understood her strength and ambition. Megyn herself says, ‘I know I’m tough’—and that’s something I’ve heard about myself,” Theron explained. “People told Megyn she had sharp elbows, that she was hard. I’ve had people judge me and say the same things about me.”
Kidman also talked about her journey of portraying whistleblower Gretchen Carlson and the difficulty of navigating the former Fox News anchor’s story. The actress additionally acknowledged that the stories of all of the women portrayed are difficult to understand but important to tell.
“I liked that our story is a study of how women relate to a toxic environment,” she said. “We want to tell complicated stories about women, and that’s very difficult. The world likes clear-cut winners and losers, abusers and victims, but reality is not that simple. It’s always a little dangerous to give a predator like Ailes any measure of humanity, but to get at the problem of harassment, you have to understand how someone like Ailes manipulated these women.”
Ultimately, Theron hopes that people can consume the film as though it’s “medicine.”
“It doesn’t answer every question, and it isn’t the cure, but hopefully it does speed the process of change.”
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