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Charlize Theron Says Playing Megyn Kelly in Bombshell Was Harder Than Playing a Serial Killer

Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie, and Nicole Kidman headline upcoming drama Bombshell, the story of how former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes was taken down for sexual harassment. While all three actresses are getting early praise for their performances, Theron says she almost turned down the role of Megyn Kelly. Apparently, portraying the former Fox anchor was Theron’s scariest acting challenge yet — even scarier than her Oscar-winning turn as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in 2003’s Monster.

Theron got real about her hesitations at a Q&A session following a Sunday screening of Bombshell. “I was shit scared,” the Mad Max star said bluntly, adding that it was tough to play someone so “incredibly well known” to a wide audience. But it’s also Kelly’s specific track record that had Theron nervous: her long association with conservative Fox News, for one, and her less-than-graceful exit from NBC, for another. (Ignorant comments about blackface reportedly led to Kelly’s dismissal from the network.)

Theron put a diplomatic spin on Kelly’s reputation: “She’s conflicting,” she told the crowd at Sunday’s screening. As a Bombshell producer, there was no question that Theron wanted to be involved in the film. Although scared at first, when it came to playing Kelly, Theron asked herself: “[Is there] somebody out there who can do this better than you can?” According to those who have seen the film, there’s definitely not.

So, how did Theron get her head around taking on the role? She focused on how Kelly’s life played into the central story of Bombshell — the Roger Ailes takedown — and tried not to think about the rest. “We weren’t telling a biography. This isn’t the Megan Kelly story,” Theron explained. “What the story was, was really just this year at Fox. … Once I got past that, this year of her life was incredibly interesting and felt to me like a story worth telling.”

Whatever complicated feelings she had about playing Megyn Kelly, Theron has always been passionate about Bombshell. There couldn’t be a better time to tell this story, especially with such powerful, badass women behind the scenes. (Joining Theron, Robbie, and Kidman in the film are Good Place star D’Arcy Carden, SNL star Kate McKinnon, and West Wing‘s Allison Janney.)

“There is a wave happening right now that sets this apart,” Theron said at Sunday’s panel. “I don’t want my daughters to go through [sexual harassment]. We don’t want our sisters to go through that. We don’t want our mothers to go through that. We just want to be able to go to work and feel safe.”

For a long time under Roger Ailes’s reign, the women at Fox News didn’t have that privilege. Whatever her personal opinions on Kelly and the network, Theron was determined to show the stories of the women who took down Ailes in their entirety. And we’re so excited to see how it plays out.

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