As “Bombshell” premiered in New York on Monday night, director Jay Roach reflected on the film’s place in the #MeToo era, especially in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s recent headline-making interview with the New York Post (made in the midst of his much-publicized trial for sexual assault), where the disgraced producer said, “I made more movies directed by women and about women than any other filmmaker.”
“One of the things I found working on this story is there is a pattern,” Roach told Variety on the red carpet at the special screening at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall. “With very powerful men who become addicted to power who then feel entitled to it and will do anything to maintain it, and will do anything to demand loyalty from individuals even if it involves bullying, sexual coercion — when you see someone that delusional compartmentalizing it and then somehow self-justifying it, you realize it takes an awful lot of misplaced psychic energy to rearrange reality to justify that sort of horrific abuse.”
In “Bombshell,” Charlize Theron stars as former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, one of the journalists responsible for the downfall of former Fox News head Roger Ailes amid allegations of sexual harassment. For her part, Theron had no interest in talking about Weinstein, saying, “You shouldn’t give him any more time… You should just stop writing about it.”
But that doesn’t mean the team behind “Bombshell” wants people to stop talking about harassment in general; in fact, their goal is exactly the opposite. “I hope that this story is to remind people that it’s not a partisan issue per se,” Roach explained. “It’s something that happened in my business. It happens in the news business. It happens in hotels, and schools, and fast food restaurants. It’s something that’s a plague.”
Roach and Theron are joined by an all-star cast — including Kate McKinnon, Jennifer Morrison and John Lithgow — that is riding a wave of awards-season accolades. The film has been recognized by a number of national critics’ organizations, while Theron and Margot Robbie have each picked up Golden Globe nominations for their performances and — with Nicole Kidman (who plays Gretchen Carlson) — were also recognized by the Screen Actors Guild both individually and also for outstanding cast in a motion picture.
“It’s mind-blowing to get any kind of nomination, but that one felt really special just because this is such an ensemble,” Theron said, reacting to the film’s SAG Awards nominations. “And every single actor that came on here just gave everything. As a producer, it just felt great to finally just have us all be included in the same thing.”
Of getting McKinnon to join the cast, Theron said, “We got incredibly lucky that she said yes. The tone of this film was really important. We never wanted it to become didactic. We wanted there to be an entertainment aspect to it… so that there was devastation and fury and all of these things that you should feel about a subject like this, but at the same time, you really invest in watching these characters. You enjoy watching them.”
Attendees at the packed screening included famed television journalists Ann Curry, Deirdre Bolton and Deborah Norville, before gathering at the swanky after-party at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Dascha Polanco, Alysia Reiner, Patricia Clarkson, Patrick Wilson, Sofia Coppola, Susanna Hoffs, Gretchen Mol and #MeToo founder Tarana Burke. The assembled group admired the sweeping views of Central Park in the stunning observatory while toasting the success of the film, as well as the empowering movement that seems to be blossoming as Hollywood enters a new era.