A new film reveals the personal and professional cost often paid by women when publicly going into battle with very powerful men. 

BOMBSHELL, by award-winning director Jay Roach and screenwriter Charles Randolph, tells the explosive story of the women who brought down a powerful media mogul. Based on the real-life chain of events of the Fox News scandal – which saw multiple women accuse former Fox News CEO and chairman Roger Ailes of sexual harassment – it offers a revealing look inside the most powerful and controversial media empire of all time.

While the drama portrays a workplace where women face demeaning comments, policing of their appearance and unwanted sexual propositions by male executives, it focuses specifically on Ailes’s female victims and their battle to bring him to justice. It follows the stories of two women in particular – Gretchen Carlson (played perfectly by Nicole Kidman) and Megyn Kelly (depicted by an almost unrecognisable Charlize Theron). In 2016, Carlson sued Ailes for sexual harassment, which led more women, including Kelly, to come forward with allegations against him. 

Starring alongside these heavyweights is Margot Robbie as Kayla, a young producer who looks to have a future on camera. While fictional, the filmmakers say her character was inspired by the stories of multiple real-life women, whose experiences were amalgamated for the film. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, the main characters ⁠are ‘morally complex heroines who surprise viewers in their attempts to do the right thing’. However, Theron’s portrayal of Kelly defies traditional expectations of movie heroines. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever chased playing heroes,” said Theron, who is no stranger to portraying complicated characters, about her decision to play Kelly. “There’s an earnestness about it that instantly turns me off. I’m interested in people who are complicated and flawed and make mistakes. Women don’t always do the right thing. This idea of what a victim looks like, what an abuser looks like, is not black and white – it’s incredibly grey. That is what I was fascinated by.”

Playing Ailes opposite the strong female cast is John Lithgow. Talking about BOMBSHELL, he said: “It’s a film very much about the women. There’s so much to talk about and so many great women’s stories being told. This might be one of the best because it really is about six or seven extremely different women who have extremely different experiences and response of the crisis at Fox. I play the crisis.”

The rest of the hotly anticipated film’s star-studded ensemble includes Connie Britton as Beth Ailes, Allison Janney as Ailes’s lawyer Susan Estrich, Kate McKinnon as a Fox News employee, Nazanin Boniadi as former Fox News correspondent Rudi Bakhtiar, Malcolm McDowell as Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch, Mark Duplass as Kelly’s husband, Douglas Brunt, and Alice Eve as Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt. 

Shot in an observational documentary style, BOMBSHELL is gripping and timely and critics are praising the film not only for its handling of a difficult topic and a complicated story, but also for its screenplay and directorial decisions. 

“We are in a climate now that is pretty intense, and it is not cooling,” added Theron. “Now there is more safety in numbers and that is happening, which is why I think this movie is so powerful.”  

The film has been very well received by critics and has already been nominated for various awards, including Best Contemporary Make-Up in a Feature-length Motion Picture, Best Special Make-Up Effects in a Feature-length Motion Picture and Best Contemporary Hair Styling in a Feature-length Motion Picture at the 7th Annual Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild (MUAHS) that is taking place on 11 January 2020. It is also up for a Humanitas Prize in the Best Drama Feature Film category. The winner will be announced during the 45th Humanitas Ceremony, which will be held at The Beverly Hilton on 24 January 2020. This non-profit organization honours and empowers film and television writers whose work explores the human condition in a nuanced, meaningful way which brings the global community closer. 

Furthermore, the Hollywood Critics Association (LAOFCS) has also nominated Charlize Theron in the Best Actress category and Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker in the Best Hair and Make-Up category for their outstanding work in the film. The 3rd Annual LAOFCS Awards Ceremony will take place on 9 January 2020, at the Taglyan Complex in Los Angeles. 

BOMBSHELL is distributed by Filmfinity (Pty) Ltd. and will be released in South African cinemas on 24 January 2020. 

Watch the trailer here:


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Photo Credit: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle SMPSP

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