Listen: How Charlize Theron Overcame Her Fear of Playing Megyn Kelly in ‘Bombshell’

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.

Popular on Variety

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.


More Film

  • Legion M Launches Film Scout Mobile

    Film News Roundup: Legion M Launches Film Scout Mobile App at Sundance

    In today’s film news roundup, Legion M is launching its Film Scout mobile app, the first round of Oscar presenters are unveiled, Verve is expanding its book-to-screen business, “Gladiator” producer David Franzoni boards an American Indian project, and XYZ announces promotions. SUNDANCE LAUNCH Fan-owned Legion M is launching its Film Scout mobile app at this [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    APA Reaches Deal With Writers Guild of America

    APA has reached a deal with the Writers Guild of America, ending a nine-month standoff over allowing the agency to represent guild members. The full-service agency made the announcement Tuesday, four days after the Gersh agency signed a similar deal with the WGA. It’s the sixth mid-size agency to accede to the WGA’s bans on [...]

  • UTA Sundance

    UTA Marketing Ups Sundance Game With Private Residence, Programming

    Talent agency hospitality is a mainstay at the Sundance film Festival, be it in swanky lounges on Park City’s Main Street or private chalets in nearby Deer Valley. United Talent Agency, whose talent roster and independent film group always come in force each year, typically throws a brunch for friends and press — but will [...]

  • Joel Silver

    Silver Pictures Settles with Family of Assistant Who Died on Bora Bora Trip

    Silver Pictures has reached a confidential settlement with the family of Carmel Musgrove, the assistant to Joel Silver who was found dead in a Bora Bora lagoon in 2015. Musgrove’s family filed a wrongful death suit in 2017, alleging that she had been overworked and furnished with drugs and alcohol during the trip. The family [...]

  • David O. Russell

    David O. Russell Looks at 'Three Kings' 20 Years Later

    When David O. Russell made “Three Kings” in 1999, it was one of the most definitive films on the Gulf War. At the time, the director had worked on shorts “Hairway to the Stars” and “Bingo Inferno: A Parody on American Obsessions.” He had also worked on features “Spanking the Monkey” and “Flirting with Disaster.” [...]

  • Metoo Sundance The Glorias Zola On

    #MeToo Issues Continue to Make an Impact on Sundance Films

    If there were any doubts that the impact of sexual-harassment exposés­­ and backlash against them had died down, Oprah Winfrey put them to rest when she withdrew her name (and Apple’s distribution) from “On The Record,” a film about allegations against music execs Russell Simmons and L.A. Reid — just two weeks before its Sundance Film Festival premiere. Variety reached out to Winfrey and the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content