Bombshell, which premieres in theaters Dec. 20, focuses on Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, then-CEO and chairman of the Fox News corporation. Initially, Carlson stood alone against Ailes, but not long after news broke regarding the suit, she was joined by other women who also provided their accounts of Ailes’ behavior; Megyn Kelly, another anchor and rising star at Fox News, was one of them. Ahead of the film’s upcoming release, Kelly, who wasn’t involved in the film’s creation due to the nature of the lawsuit, had some interesting things to say about Theron and the film.
When The Daily Mail asked Kelly about her about whether she would go and see the film, she simply remarked, “I’m going to let someone who loves me watch it first and tell me if I should see it or not.” Later, when Kelly was told Charlize Theron was cast to play her, she commented, “She seems smart, seems like a good mom, so I could do worse.” She also mentioned that she had not seen The Loudest Voice, the Showtime mini-series covering the same case that came out earlier this year. There, the story similarly focuses on Carlson’s (played by Naomi Watts) case, but doesn’t loop in Kelly’s story like Bombshell does.
Bombshell covers a significant portion of Kelly’s involvement with Carlson’s case against Ailes, and while the main thrust of the film comes from Carlson’s lawsuit, Kelly’s alleged experiences provide context and corroborate Carlson’s accounts of Ailes’ behavior. What’s more, her story also carries a timely pin in the form of Kelly’s moderating of the 2016 Republican presidential debate, which the film also touches on. There, she went head-to-head with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, questioning him about his attitudes and the things he’s said regarding women.
This resulted in a well-documented feud between the two of them in the following days, with Trump crassly accusing Kelly of having “blood coming out of her wherever.” That soundbite features in the Bombshell trailer, which also shows Kelly’s husband, Douglas Brunt (Mark Duplass) remarking to her that “the entire country is talking about your period.”
Despite the seemingly intimate nature of many of the scenes featured in the trailer, neither Carlson nor Kelly were involved in the film’s creation. Bryan Freedman, Kelly’s attorney, told The Hollywood Reporter that Kelly had “no involvement,” and that “Megyn has never met or spoken to Charlize, and she did not sell the rights to the book,” referring to Kelly’s memoir Settle for More, which formed the inspiration for a few scenes. Freedman went on to say, “In fact, Megyn was as surprised as anyone when the trailer dropped.”
Given that she wasn’t involved or even interviewed in the creation of the film’s story, it makes sense that Kelly might be apprehensive about seeing it at all. But if early reviews are anything to go by, then that apprehensiveness may be a warranted worry for other reasons: currently, Bombshell sits at a 65% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with many critics lambasting its sensationalization of the story at hand. Still, CNN’s review of the film praised Theron’s performance as Kelly. It reads, “Kelly becomes the centerpiece of the story, thanks in large part to the uncanny performance by Theron… It’s about as dazzling a portrayal of a living person as you’ll see, in a way that will make it difficult to ever look at Kelly again without thinking of it.”