Charlize Theron says it was “really emotional” to watch Megyn Kelly’s half-hour response video to “Bombshell,” the Oscar-nominated feature film that depicts the sexual harassment Kelly (as played by Theron) and several other women experienced from Fox News founder Roger Ailes.
The video, which Kelly posted to her YouTube Channel on Jan. 9, shows Kelly, former Fox co-workers Juliet Huddy, Rudi Bakhtiar and Julie Zann, and Kelly’s husband, Douglas Brunt, watching a private screening of “Bombshell,” then sitting down for a taped discussion about the film.
While attending the Producers Guild of America awards on Saturday night to accept the Stanley Kramer Award, Theron and fellow “Bombshell” producers Charles Randolph (who also wrote the screenplay) and Margaret Riley all told Variety that they were impressed with and gratified by the reaction everyone in Kelly’s video had to the film and how it portrayed their time at Fox News.
“When they talked about how the film really got the essence of what it felt like to work there and what they experienced there, the fact that we got that right, that just felt really validating,” Theron said. “Because that’s ultimately as filmmakers what you’re trying to get. You know, it’s not a documentary, but to get that right was important.”
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Randolph said he was “delighted” by Kelly’s video, adding, “I probably shouldn’t say that. But, you know, they were so heart-wrenchingly honest.”
In the video, all the women praised the film for capturing the essence of their experiences at Fox News with sexual harassment. But they all disapproved of a scene between Theron’s Kelly and Margot Robbie’s character Kayla Pospisil — a composite of several women’s experiences created for the film — in which Pospisil admonishes Kelly for not speaking out sooner and possibly sparing other women from further harassment. As they watched the scene in Kelly’s video, Kelly calls the moment “bullshit.”
Randolph told Variety he doesn’t mind that criticism. “I mean, it’s horrible to see yourself on screen,” he said. “I don’t blame her. It’s not fun to have people put words in your mouth. But at the end of the day, you know, it felt massively validating that all of them felt what they did about the film. The problem with doing this movie has always been there’s no way we can mimic what you already feel about this world. So to hear so many people who were there say, ‘You know, that was pretty close to what it felt like,’ is sort of remarkable.”
Riley, who also works as Randolph’s manager, was less sanguine about Kelly’s criticism of the scene between her and Pospisil.
“I understand on one level, because if you’re seeing yourself, there’s a lot of things you wish were different,” she said. “But she missed to me the opportunity [to express] how women couldn’t raise their hand or they were going to get fired. And even when she was in that position of power she still couldn’t have stood up. I think women weren’t allowed to do that.”
Riley did say she was surprised that despite Kelly’s criticism, the anchor still maintained that she wouldn’t cut the Pospisil scene, since it captures the regret she still feels for not coming forward sooner about Ailes’ harassment. “I’ve looked back on my own life, every moment from that moment forward and I do wish I had done more,” Kelly says in the video. “Even though I was powerless, even though it would’ve been a suicidal move for me career-wise, what if I had just said, ‘screw it?'”
The biggest issue Randolph took with Kelly’s video was the criticism of how “Bombshell” depicted Irena Briganti, Fox News senior executive vice president of corporate communications, especially the scene in which Briganti (Brooke Smith) tells Ailes (John Lithgow) that she can’t trash Fox News’ talent.
“The notion that Irena Briganti did not plant hit pieces on the talent is a fantasy,” Kelly says in her video.
“She was like the queen of hitting talent,” Huddy adds.
Randolph said there were some “harsher” scenes of Briganti that didn’t make the final cut of the film. “I stand by the reporting, though, on her saying ‘I can’t attack an anchor I’m paid to promote,'” he said. “I stand by that.”