Charlize Theron immediately didn’t jump at the chance to play controversial news anchor Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell,” the Jay Roach-directed drama about the downfall of late Fox News boss Roger Ailes’ downfall after he was accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct and harassment.
“She wasn’t necessarily a person who I just could throw my arms around,” Theron says on the latest episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast. “There were a lot of things that I have kind of had to separate from my own personal feelings about her — things that she said in the past that have bothered me. There are things that hurt, some of the things that she’s kind of commented on in the past definitely bothered me.”
But then, after talking to Roach and screenwriter Charles Randolph, Theron saw it as a role she couldn’t pass up because they promised the portrayal would not be a sanitized depiction of Kelly. “If you can do it with thorns and all, then that’s interesting,” Theron said. “That’s really interesting. I mean, as an actor you want somebody that’s conflicting, like can kind of rub you the wrong way.”
Her work is likely to pay off, as she’s emerged as a frontrunner for Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.
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While Theron says she never experienced anything as horrific as sexual assault while making her way in Hollywood, she said after the New York Times and the New Yorker published their explosive reports on Harvey Weinstein, she began to do some Googling.
She was looking for any magazine and newspaper stories in which she talked about a director coming onto her during a business meeting. “I Googled this guy because I remembered that I had always talked about it very openly and that I never tried to protect him,” Theron said. “Whenever somebody said to me, ‘Have you ever had a casting couch experience,’ I would just tell that story. I would use his name and when I Googled it, the story was out there, but nobody ever printed his name.”
“I know that I had said his name in several interviews and you couldn’t find his name in any of the articles,” she continued. “It was like every journalist decided to tell the story, but because he was a prominent director, no one wrote his name.”
Theron doesn’t name him now, but about eight years after the incident she found herself in another meeting with the director and confronted him. “It took me years to be in that room with that person again, and he didn’t remember it,” she said. “And ultimately, I’ll be truthful, it wasn’t as satisfying as I always thought in my head it would be… I think the hardest thing is kind of just finding that resolve… I think that’s the thing that eats women up, this constant questioning that we have. In the end, the thing about harassment is that you’re always questioning yourself. ‘What did I say? What did I wear? What did I do?’ And it has nothing to do with you, but yet we still put it on ourselves and I know that feeling really well.”
Theron can’t help but think of other times when she wasn’t treated with respect in Hollywood, when she was made to feel less than the men in the room. “There’s not a woman I don’t know, over 40, who didn’t go through an experience or more than just an experience, a period in her life when she was coming up in her career where she wasn’t asked to placate, to sit in a room to laugh at her boss’ jokes, to make them feel good about themselves. To make them feel like, to prove to them that you’re going to be a great little soldier. That they should bet on you. They should invest on you,” she said. “Those things are damaging, really damaging and they shouldn’t exist. It is something that we need to remove from our acceptance as a culture.”
You can listen the entire chat with Theron below. You can also find “The Big Ticket” at iHeartRadio or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.