Charlize Theron told the audience at a D.C. screening of Bombshell that even though the movie is about the women at Fox News who exposed Roger Ailes’ sexual harassment, there was no way to avoid getting into politics and Donald Trump.
Theron portrays Megyn Kelly, who moderated the first Republican presidential debate in 2015 and quickly sparred with Trump over a question she asked about his treatment of women. That moment is featured in the movie.
“The strange thing was that the story itself kind of dictated to us that that had to be in the movie,” Theron told CNN’s Dana Bash at a post-screening Q&A. “At the same time, I think we were all somewhat concerned that we didn’t want politics to overshadow what the movie was really about, but the politics really fed into the story because outside of the workplace, she was still dealing with it in a different way.
“She was basically brave enough to kind of take on [Trump] at that time, all this information was coming out and yet it was quite shocking,” the Oscar winner added. “Yet somehow you would hear about it and then two weeks later it just disappeared. Nobody was talking about it.”
Joining her at the event at the Motion Picture Association was director Jay Roach and screenwriter Charles Randolph. Nicole Kidman plays Gretchen Carlson, who filed the 2016 lawsuit that triggered other women to come forward with claims against Ailes, ultimately forcing his resignation. Margot Robbie plays Kayla Pospisil, a composite character representing aspiring females journalists.
Roach said that they considered also featuring one of the most sensational moments of the 2016 campaign: The Washington Post’s release of Access Hollywood footage in which Trump is heard bragging about sexually assaulting women. Trump later dismissed it as “locker room talk.”
“We almost put that in the film, but it almost seemed like too easy,” Roach said. “It was such an interesting thing to put people back in this place before all the Me Too stuff, but it was really just Megan and Gretchen.”
Theron said that they “couldn’t have asked for a more interesting narrative handed to us, but at the same time we were really concerned because we didn’t want this to be a political film. This was a film about sexual harassment.”
She added: “What are we really aiming to tell them, and that is even if we don’t agree with Fox News, or where your politics land, this is a non-partisan issue that shouldn’t be something that shouldn’t be politicized. This world just happens to be one that took part in some of them.”
The screening, held at the Motion Picture Association, just blocks from the White House, took place on an auspicious day in Washington, just hours after the conclusion of the first public impeachment hearing. Among those who attended were Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) and Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH).
Bustos worked with Carlson on legislation to end forced arbitration in case of sexual harassment or discrimination. That’s an issue that Carlson faced after she filed suit. She eventually settled, but she has said recently that she has asked to be let out of her non-disclosure agreement.
Also at the screening: The New York Times‘ Maureen Dowd, CBS News’ Margaret Brennan, The Washington Post‘s Ann Hornaday and Monica Hesse, Daily Beast columnist Margaret Carlson, CNN’s Virginia Moseley, attorney Bob Barnett, political commentators Karen Finney and Adrienne Elrod, producer Tammy Haddad, public affairs specialist and lobbyist Juleanna Glover, communications strategist Jen Psaki and The Hill’s Steve Clemons.
The movie is set for release on December 13.
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