Theron: How the important story of Bombshell almost didn't get made
Producer and star Charlize Theron salutes the Bombshell women and the single mother also opens up about what she is looking for in a relationship today
Upon receiving news earlier this month that she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her new film Bombshell, Charlize Theron issued a statement saying that making the film was "one of the great highlights" of her career - even though the process required her to jump through hoops.
Days before production started on the sexual harassment drama, Annapurna Pictures dropped out for budget reasons.
Theron, who is one of Bombshell's producers, frantically worked the phones and eventually found other means of financing and distribution.
Opening here tomorrow, Bombshell tells the story of the women of Fox News, a right-wing cable outlet in the US and part of a worldwide media empire owned by Rupert Murdoch.
It focuses on the real-life 2016 sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the television network's CEO Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) by newscaster Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), and the fallout from it.
Ailes, who died in 2017 at the age of 77, was fired only when controversial star anchor Megyn Kelly (Theron) spoke up about her own experiences with him.
Margot Robbie is nominated for a Best Supporting Actress for playing a composite associate producer at Fox News, who also ends up a victim of Ailes'.
At our interview at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills, Theron said of Bombshell's challenges: "It was incredibly demoralising. It was a week where we were all incredibly panicked. I probably aged five years. We didn't have cash flow - literally. We couldn't pay anyone and they stayed on. I think it's a testament to how important this story was, not just for somebody like me, but for all of us to tell and be a part of.
"Nicole literally said to me, 'I am not going anywhere'. And I can get emotional thinking about that, because these are the stories that we don't hear about, how much women want other women to succeed."
DREAM COME TRUE
The 44-year-old South African actress added: "Nicole Kidman is just an icon. Every time I saw her in a new film, she was pushing that envelope. She was taking us on this journey that just felt like it was a surprise, we weren't expecting it. She makes interesting choices, she's incredibly brave and vulnerable. I can't believe I'm in a movie with her, I can't believe she said yes. It was a little bit like a dream come true.
"And then the tenacity that Margot has, to walk into this industry and to just say, 'I'm going to do this on my own terms', right from the get-go, is something that I take my hat off to. It's been so impressive to watch how she's navigated her career, not just as an actor but as a producer, and that takes real bravery.
"We are not necessarily at a place where it's open doors and welcome for women to come in, and she's done it so beautifully."
We talked about the #MeToo movement which hadn't yet caught fire at the time of the Fox News scandal, which happened before the Harvey Weinstein revelations rocked Hollywood and was consequential because no one had accused such a powerful executive of sexual assault before for fear of losing their job and being slut-shamed in perpetuity.
Theron said: "For me, what makes this story so potent is that it was the women of Fox who were the catalysts, who put us where we are today."
In order to resemble Kelly, Theron went through an intensive make-up job that rendered her unrecognisable, including dark contact lenses and specific prosthetics to change the shape of her eyes and chin.
That garnered Bombshell's third Oscar nomination - for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
She said: "People think I have a full face of prosthetics on, but it was the make-up artist's talent and understanding that if we change certain small things about my face, that it would go a long way - coinciding with how I carried myself and the cadence of my speech.
"Actors always tend to stay away from doing anything that messes with your eyes. But it was really important to change my eye shape because her eyes are so prominent. There were days when I felt like my eyes were going to fall out of my eye sockets."
The conversation touched on relationships for the single mother of two adopted children.
Her last public romance was with actor Sean Penn that ended in 2015.
She said: "A huge part of a lot of my relationships have definitely been me being hyper aware that there was an element of me living my full potential that felt somewhat threatened.
"In my 20s, I feel like I had this need to play that role of modulating myself, depending on the relationship. I remember a lot of times thinking to myself, if I could just make myself a little bit smaller, my relationship would be great.
"I think the older I've become, the more I realise that that's just not true to me.
"I am hoping that I will meet somebody who is thrilled by all of those things that I have to offer. And I am also now at an age where until that happens, I'm just not willing to settle anymore. My life is just too beautiful, too good. I'm too happy to have anybody come and pee on my parade."
The writer is the chair of the board of directors of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a non-profit organisation of entertainment journalists that also organises the annual Golden Globe Awards.
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