Nicole Kidman admits the subject matter in “Bombshell” “may be disturbing and cause you to recoil … but at the same time it does entertain you.” The film tells the true story of the sexual harassment scandal that brought down Roger Ailes, the chairman and CEO of Fox News. Kidman plays Gretchen Carlson, who first blew the whistle by suing Ailes in 2016, opening a floodgate of allegations against the network and its chief executive. Watch our exclusive video interview with Kidman about “Bombshell” as well as the second season of “Big Little Lies” above.
Ailes’s abuses of power were no laughing matter, but director Jay Roach and writer Charles Randolph were an “alluring” combo for Kidman because of their track record making sharp satires out of difficult subjects. Roach won multiple Emmys for exploring the 2000 presidential election (“Recount”) and Sarah Palin‘s 2008 vice presidential bid (“Game Change”), while Randolph won an Oscar for tackling the 2008 financial crisis (“The Big Short”).
For Kidman, there was also the challenge of playing a recognizable public figure. Biographical roles aren’t new for the actress, who has portrayed everyone from Virginia Woolf (“The Hours”) to Diane Arbus (“Fur”) to Martha Gellhorn (“Hemingway and Gellhorn”), but Carlson is a contemporary figure known very recently to cable news viewers. “There’s a certain rhythm and way in which she speaks … and obviously she’s been on broadcast news, so that’s a particular way of being,” says Kidman.
But she was less interested in mimicry than in understanding Carlson “through feeling and through emotions and what I can emotionally connect to so that I can bring it to life.” Once she has internalized a character in that way “there’s no wrongs, there’s just being … Once I’m in, it’s such an extraordinary feeling.”
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