“We knew from the beginning that there’d be a lot of people who didn’t want to get involved with this story,” reveals “Bombshell” screenwriter Charles Randolph. There were more than a few who wondered how you could make Fox News personalities sympathetic, but it was a challenge the Oscar-winning scribe readily accepted. Watch our exclusive video interview with Randolph above.
Directed by Jay Roach, the Lionsgate release takes viewers behind the scenes of the sexual harassment scandal that rocked Fox News, ending the reign of chairman and CEO Roger Ailes (John Lithgow). It stars Charlize Theron as anchor Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman as whistle-blower Gretchen Carlson and Margot Robbie as aspiring newscaster Kayla Pospisil, a composite character representing the many women who were harassed by Ailes and others at the network.
In structuring the screenplay, “the strategy was to make [the three women] function differently,” Randolph explains. “Megyn is our narrative center: she takes us through the world. Gretchen’s our moral center: her moral choices structure how we see that world. And Kayla’s our emotional center: she’s the one we identify with the most.”
Although many viewers have asked Randolph, “‘Why did you make me identify with Megyn Kelly?,'” he sees the central character’s point of view as a feature of writing this script, not a bug. For starters, “it shows that this world is beyond partisan politics. Without question, no woman deserves to be harassed, even if your worst understanding of her politics was true.”
Additionally, by focusing on “these women you think you know,” he could use that inherent “baggage” to play with audience expectations. “I can start by getting you to laugh at them. Then if I can get you to laugh at them, I can get you to laugh with them. And if I can get you to laugh with them, then I can make them break your heart.”
Before “Bombshell,” Randolph co-wrote “The Big Short” (2015) with Adam McKay, which brought them Best Adapted Screenplay prizes at the Oscars as well as the WGA, BAFTA, USC Scripter and Critics’ Choice Awards, in addition to a Golden Globe nomination.
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