Charlize Theron began developing Fox News 'Bombshell' story before #MeToo

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 13 (UPI) — The Bombshell in Charlize Theron’s new movie is the allegation of sexual harassment against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. The film, opening in limited release Friday and expanding Dec. 20, depicts the women of Fox News filing charges against Ailes in 2016.

“I was sent the script before everything that we’re in right now,” Theron said at a Q&A after a screening of the film. “So it was an interesting time to read it because there were rumblings. People were talking about things, but nothing was out. This was pre-MeToo, Time’s Up, pre-Harvey [Weinstein], Matt Lauer, all of this.”

Gretchen Carlson was the first to formally file charges against Ailes. Nicole Kidman plays Carlson in the movie, and John Lithgow plays Ailes. Kidman wanted to show Carlson’s vulnerability beneath her public face, and felt she knew a way to portray that vulnerability on film.

“You’d see it through her children,” Kidman said. “You would see a woman who’s really scared for the future of her children.”

Carlson remains under a non-disclosure agreement from her ultimate settlement with Fox News. Bombshell depicts the immediate days after she filed.

“She’s given up her job, she’s gone out on a limb and now her future is not bright,” Kidman continued. “That’s frightening and the loneliness and the fear. She thought she’d be supported and she wasn’t. That’s really terrifying.”

Kidman felt that Carlson’s fear for her family would trump any thoughts of self-preservation.

“It’s terrifying for yourself, but it’s way more terrifying if you’ve got children, as well,” Kidman said. “You’re like what’s going to happen to my daughter and my son? What’s going to happen to their lives? That’s how I met her emotionally and so I feel for her. I do.”

After Carlson came forward, Megyn Kelly brought forth her charges against Ailes. Theron plays Kelly in the film and serves as a producer. Theron called herself a liberal and said she disagreed with Kelly’s political views, but felt that gave the story more power.

“If we can see the power of a message through somebody that we might not agree with, or somebody who might even anger us, that tells you there’s something real there,” Theron said. “This was not a person that was easy for me to wrap my arms around. But, in what she went through, I have nothing but respect for each and every one of them for what they stood up for, what they risked.”

Margot Robbie plays Kayla, a composite character of other women in the Fox News newsroom. Though Kayla herself was not a real character, Robbie said she could relate to Kayla’s story.

“There was nothing about this that I didn’t understand,” Robbie said. “I feel like I’ve been hearing stories like Kayla’s my whole life from friends, school friends, parents’ friends, whoever. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some story about this happening to varying levels of severity.”

Kelly and Carlson have bounced back from Fox News with productions on NBC News and A&E, respectively. The real women behind the stories of Kayla and others in the Fox News newsroom weren’t so fortunate, Theron said.

“They were ostracized,” she said. “Most of them lost their jobs, never worked again. So in that sense, I’m grateful for what they’ve done. They catapulted us. They were the first. There’s no denying that all of this started with them.”

Bombshell is Theron’s second film to deal with sexual harassment. Her 2005 film North Country depicted the Eveleth Mines sexual harassment case of the ’80s. Theron said the audience for Bombshell in 2019 has felt more receptive than the audience in 2005.

“That definitely feels different than when I was on the press tour for North Country,” Theron said. “It just felt like something that everybody wanted to leave back in the period. It feels like this is of this moment and that’s great.

“I think that’s what we need. We need to tell all of these stories. We shouldn’t stop telling these stories and we also just shouldn’t stop until this thing is done for good.”

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