Bombshell is the cinematic tour de force everyone is talking about.
The chilling 85 second teaser trailer, which landed earlier this summer, is deafeningly silent. The action: Margot Robbie, (a virtually unrecognisable) Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman share a - palpably tense - lift together.
Here’s everything you need to know about Bombshell:
What is Bombshell about?
According to the film synopsis: 'Bombshell is a revealing look inside the most powerful and controversial media empire of all time: Fox News, and the explosive story of the women who brought down the infamous man who created it.'
The film is based on the real sexual harassment allegations against former Chairman and CEO of Fox News Roger Ailes (who died in May 2017, aged 77), told from the female employees' perspective.
Two-time Tony winner John Lithgow, who plays Ailes, recently told Deadline that the film will be 'very much about the women.
'It really is about six or seven extremely different women who have extremely different experiences and response[s] of the crisis at Fox. I play the crisis,' he added.
Who was Roger Ailes?
A former political consultant in the Sixties, Roger Ailes was tasked with helping Republicans Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush get elected into the White House. Talent for shaping the minds of the public, Rupert Murdoch employed Ailes to launch the Fox News in 1996.
The Guardian reports that by 2009, Ailes earned himself a $24m pay package – a deal slightly larger than that of Murdoch that year.
What are the sexual harassment allegations levied against Ailes?
In 2014, allegations emerged in Gabriel Sherman’s book titled The Loudest Voice in the Room about Ailes and inappropriate behaviour toward a female executive who was allegedly offered a pay rise if she agreed to have sex with Ailes whenever he pleased. Fox News and Ailes denied the claims.
In 2016, Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a suit claiming that Ailes had fired her for not having sex with him.
The suit detailed the numerous ways Carlson said Ailes ‘sabotaged her career’ and made ‘sexually charged comments’ which included asking her to turn around ‘so he could view her posterior’, tell her to stop getting ‘offended so God damn easy about everything’ and saying that she was ‘sexy, but too much hard work’.
Carlson says she complained numerous times about her treatment but, as a result, she pay was cut, she was given fewer hard-hitting interviews, she was fired from Fox & Friends in 2013 and her appearances as guest commentator and substitute host were cut.
The lawsuit was later settled for a reported $20 million, according to Reuters.
Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox, offered a public apology to Carlson which read: ‘We sincerely regret and apologise for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.’
This was a year before the Harvey Weinstein scandal shook up Hollywood and the #MeToo movement gained momentum. At the time, Ailes was considered to be one of the most powerful and feared people in American media.
Due to Gretchen’s case, a slew of other women stepped forward to accuse Ailes of harassment, and Ailes was forced to resign under pressure (he later became an advisor in Donald Trump's presidential campaign and continued to advise Murdoch and 21st Century Fox until the end of 2018). In 2017, Gretchen was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People In The World.
Are the trailers for Bombshell out?
The first trailer for the film came out this summer but gave little detail as to what is in store for the three protagonists in the film (other than pretty awkward lift journeys).
On Tuesday 16th October, the second trailer of the film dropped and let's just say, we've never been more excited for Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and Charlize Theron's latest project.
‘You have to adopt the mentality of an Irish street cop,’ Saturday Night Live actress Kate McKinnon tells Robbie as they walk through the Fox office.
Nicole Kidman’s character can then be heard listing the sexist comments she’s received in the Fox newsroom before a woman, presumably her lawyer, asks her: ‘Will other women come forward?’
During the trailer, Billie Eilish’s hit single ‘Bady Guy’ song plays while the drama ensues, as Robbie asks to moves up the ranks in the business while Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) tells her that she must prove that she is ‘loyal’.
‘I need you to find a way to prove it,’ Ailes adds.
The remainder of the trailer sees the aftermath after Kidman’s character Gretchen speaks out with her allegations against Ailies, much to the surprise of Robbie and Theron’s.
‘Ready to go to war,’ a voice says at the end over the phone to Gretchen. ‘Oh, yeah,’ she replies.
Who stars in Bombshell?
Kidman plays Gretchen Carlson (with Hilary Clinton-esque coiffed perfection) and Theron stars as news anchor Megyn Kelly. In addition to the real-life power duo, Robbie stars as fictional character Kayla Pospisil.
Though Robbie's character is fictional, she drew on both real life and cinematic inspirations for her role. Real-life wise, the Australian actress created a fake undercover Twitter account to follow young conservative women who may have shared the same beliefs with Kayla.
Secondly, Robbie looked to film depictions of smart women who were misjudged because due to their appearance. And what better example than Reese Witherspoon's Elle Woods in Legally Blonde?
Anyone familiar with the title will know that Woods is repeatedly patronised, preyed upon and dismissed because of her pretty face, penchant for pink and Bel Air accent.
'Ever day, I'd do the monologue from Legally Blonde,' Robbie explained to Variety in January 2020, citing that the ambitious Harvard law student was 'incredibly smart' but 'underestimated because of their looks'.
Elle Woods has many a defiant and inspirational moment in the movie so it's hard to know exactly which monologue Robbie is referring to but if we had to guess it would be the valedictorian speech at the Harvard graduation.
Since details of the casting became known, Kelly and Theron have praised each other’s work.
‘I'm her fan,’ Kelly told the Daily Mail in September. ‘(She) seems smart, seems like a good mom. So you could do worse, right?’
On Sunday 6th October, Theron told Entertainment Tonight that Kelly’s comments were ‘incredibly kind’.
‘We try to, as actors and creative storytellers, we try to do all of this with integrity, so that was always where it came from,’ Theron told the news outlet. ‘So for her to feel good about that, I'm sure it can't be easy for her, so I'm incredibly understanding.’
Bombshell, which hits cinemas December 2019, also stars Malcolm McDowell as media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Connie Britton as Ailes’ wife, Allison Janney as Ailes’ legal counsel Susan Estrich and Alice Eve as ‘Fox & Friends’ co-host Ainsley Earhardt.
What has Meghn Kelly said about her experience working with Roger Ailes?
Megyn Kelly has recalled the moment she experienced a ‘demeaning’ encounter with the late Roger Ailes.
‘I have no connection to the movie “Bombshell”, other than I lived it,’ she captioned a video post on her YouTube account on Thursday. ‘I did not produce, consult on, or have anything to do with the film.’
‘Neither I nor the women I watched it with sold the rights to our stories (or in my case, my book), so it was somewhat jarring to see a version of our experiences told by strangers.’
Opening up about watching the film with her friends who, like her, were sexually harassed during their time at Fox News, the journalist added: ‘We talked about it afterward in what proved to be an emotional, raw, revealing discussion of what the filmmakers got right, wrong, and what really happened to us those years ago.’
‘I do think we have to talk about the spin, the infamous spin inside of Ailes' office,’ Kelly told the group, alluding to a scene in the film when Robbie's character is requested to do a 306 degree spin for Ailes in the film. ‘Did you do it? Did you ever have to do the spin?’ she quizzed the women.
‘I was asked to twirl and I did it,’ Zann told Kelly. ‘Did he ask you?’
‘So, I was asked to do the spin,’ Kelly responded. ‘And God help me, I did it.
'I remember feeling that I’d put myself through school, I was offered a partnership at Jones Day – one of the best law firms in the world – I argued before federal courts of appeal all over the nation, I came [to Fox News], I covered the United States’ supreme court, I graduated with honours from all of my programmes, and now he wants me to twirl. And I did it. If you don’t get how demeaning that is, I can’t help you.'
In the video, Kelly is seen sitting with former Fox News employees Juliet Huddy, Rudi Bakhtiar, Julie Zann who made allegations against Ailes, as well as her husband Douglas Brunt in a cinema room. Several of the women become emotional watching the film before discussing the screening together.
‘Everyone would say “don’t complain about sexual harassment because you’ll lose your job”,’ Bakhtiar tells the group during the discussion.
We predict serious Oscars 2020 buzz already. Bookmark now.
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