In ODEON cinemas from 17 January, Bombshell tells the true story of the downfall of Roger Ailes, head of the controversial but hugely popular American news outlet Fox News.
Ailes was thought all-powerful, but during the summer of 2016, the collective voices of his harassed female employees ended his reign. Let’s meet the characters at the centre of a newsroom drama that made headline news of its own...
In the summer of 2016, Megyn Kelly is Fox News’ employee of the moment, the controversial host of ratings-grabbing news show ‘The Kelly File’ and, as a former attorney, someone who’s not afraid to speak truth to power, as she proves when she puts several difficult questions to then presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Formidable Fox News chief Roger Ailes is very fond of Kelly and she is seemingly fond of him. But when fellow journalist Gretchen Carlson files a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes, Kelly shocks everyone by revealing her own unseemly stories about their mutual boss.
When we first meet Gretchen Carlson, she is co-anchor of the popular Fox And Friends, but about to be moved to a show with smaller ratings – much to her chagrin. A former Miss America, Carlson is weary of the sexist comments that are thrown her way daily, and begins advocating for more meaningful programming, which sets her at odds with boss Ailes and she is eventually fired.
Following her dismissal, Carlson files a lawsuit claiming she was sexually harassed by Ailes. She is counting on her female colleagues backing her up but is stunned when no one initially comes forward.
Unlike Theron’s Kelly and Kidman’s Carlson, who are both based on real people, Margot Robbie’s young producer Kayla Pospisil is a fictional character inspired by the reported experiences of several women. Pospisil is an evangelical millennial, and she arrives at Fox News hoping to rise up the ranks and give voice to people like herself.
When she gets the chance to meet with CEO Roger Ailes, she jumps at it, her ambitious nature kicking in. But when Ailes makes it clear what she’ll need to do to earn her advancement, Kayla finds herself going to a very dark place.
Although in his 70s when we meet him, Roger Ailes is still a man at the top of his game. A former presidential media consultant, it was he who – after being hired by Rupert Murdoch (played in the film by Malcolm McDowell) in 1996 – took the fledgling Fox News and turned it into the number one cable news channel in America.
A phenomenal feat by any standard, but as we find out in Bombshell, there’s a much darker side to Ailes’ career – one that sees him deservedly cast out from his own kingdom.
Beth – portrayed in Bombshell by Saturday Night Live’s Connie Britton – is Roger Ailes’ loyal wife of 20 years. Despite the evidence mounting against him, she still stands by her man, even suggesting that he try to discredit his accusers with unflattering news stories.
Another fictional character, lesbian liberal Jess is the very last person you’d expect to be working at the ultra-conservative Fox News – she even has a Vote Hillary poster on her apartment wall. But this producer for ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ keeps her private life well hidden.
When Kayla moves from Gretchen’s show to hers, Jess takes her under her wing, sparking an unlikely relationship.