This casting is a stroke of genius.
The crosshairs are set. After a decade of spearheading various broad comedies (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Meet the Parents), Jay Roach found a new life targeting hypocritical politicians and the financial system that fuels their power. In 2008, he went after the absurd behind-the-scenes turmoil of the George W. Bush election in Recount. HBO had so much fun wallowing in that particular brand of misery that they decided the McCain/Palin Game Change fiasco was the logical followup. What fresh hell could Roach turn to next?
Roger Ailes, the titanic media consultant that once aided Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush in their presidential campaigns. He was the chairman and CEO of Fox News from 1996 until 2016, when he was forced to step down after allegations of sexual misconduct. He is cited as the man responsible for bringing personalities like Sean Hannity, Gretchen Carlson, and Megyn Kelly to the forefront. It is also said that Kelly refused to play ball with Fox News when they pressured her to support Ailes during the first round of accusations. Roach is looking to expose the typhoon of sins swirling around Ailes throughout his last days at Fox.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Charlize Theron has joined on to portray Megyn Kelly as well as produce the untitled film. No stranger to playing real-life figures, Theron has inhabited the lives of starlet Britt Ekland (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) and serial killer Aileen Wuornos (Monster). Here, Theron has a fascinating opportunity to tackle a complicated figure in popular culture.
Kelly quickly rose through the ranks of Fox News, first as a legal contributor for Brit Hume and then eventually as the host of the nightly show The Kelly File. During the 2015 Republican Party presidential debate, she earned Donald Trump’s ire when she questioned his fiery temperament. She continued to bristle against Trump’s well-documented sexism, and resorted to clever name-calling when she branded him “Voldemort.”
When the first whispers of Ailes’s malfeasance began to surface, Kelly confirmed his egregious behavior reporting that the CEO had once locked her in his office and that she had to physically push him off her person. Kelly would not last long at Fox News after this incident. In late 2016, she departed The Kelly File for NBC News. Estimates of her current salary at NBC range from $15-20 million a year. She continues to hold great influence on the talking heads scene, nabbing that terrifyingly bizarre interview with Vladimir Putin.
Theron as Kelly is faultless casting. She has the precision of a scalpel. Look to her recent turn in Tully. As the three-time mother grappling with her place in the universe, Theron savagely cuts into our concepts of parental bliss. Her ability to position rage and frustration with profound empathy is essential. Theron will easily possess the various contradictions percolating inside Kelly during this tumultuous period.
Theron is not expected to be the main star of the film. As he did with Recount and Game Change, Roach is relying heavily on an ensemble cast. Besides taking aim at Ailes and Kelly, the movie will also reportedly feature portrayals of Greta Van Susteren, Bill O’Reilly, and Rupert Murdoch.
Half the joy of these films stems from the stunt casting. Who dares put on the O’Reilly mask? Ed Harris killed it as John McCain. Could a good/bad wig get him to that “Fair and Balanced” mantra?
Was I clamoring for a Roger Ailes takedown? No. However, adding Theron to the mix makes Jay Roach’s latest lambasting irresistible. The film is now more than just a simple curiosity.