Lionsgate brought the disturbing and the funny to Deadline’s Contenders today with a look at Bombshell and Knives Out. Producer Margaret Riley said the Bombshell script blew her away. “As a woman who has come up in Hollywood, I realized there had never been a movie about sexual harassment.”
“We have all had to deal with it in some way and had to be one of the boys and not raise our hand for fear of losing our jobs,” she said.
Writer/producer Charles Randolph wants the film to be as revelatory for men as it is recognizable by women. He was shocked by “the granular details” of how sexual harassment works. The film’s story predates and presages the Harvey Weinstein scandal and subsequent #metoo explosion by several years.
Directed by Jay Roach, it stars Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman as Fox News Channel colleagues Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson. Margot Robbie plays Kayla Pospisil, a fictional character preyed upon by late FNC CEO Roger Ailes played by John Lithgow. “Her story is someone who finds themselves entrapped n a quid-pro-quo sexual relationship that infects everything about their life,” said Randolph.
He noted a scene where Ailes asks Pospisil to pull up her skirt, up to her underwear. “I hope to put enough men in that scene with Roger and Kala so they can walk away [understanding] the emotional impact on a human being.”
Theron, he said, acted as a sort of “intimacy coordinator”, making sure everyone was okay with every scene. Kidman pushed for a reshoot day around Carlson to keep the former anchor present in the film longer. Carlson was fired from Fox halfway through the movie. “Nicole insisted that it told Gretchen’s story in a way that does not marginalize her.”
On a lighter note, Knives Out director Rian Johnson said he was “deeply in love” with whodunnits growing up, especially when it came to the doyenne Agatha Christie. That writer was a master at creating a microcosm of society “and showcasing the high and low within that microcosm”, he said. Johnson enjoyed moving the elements from period Britain and plugging them into modern America.
The all-star cast, which also includes Jamie Lee Curtis and Chris Evans, came together quickly once Daniel Craig was on board as detective Benoit Blanc, said producer Ram Bergman. “He had to get back to James Bond world, so we had six weeks before we had to start shooting… It was, ‘Can you come to Boston right now to film this?’”
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