If you’ve noticed “Bombshell” trending online and thought it had something to do with the fictional Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe conjured up by the writing team on NBC’s Smash, you’re going to have to think again. This time, Bombshell is a highly anticipated film directed by Jay Roach that concerns the story of the 2016 Fox News scandal, in which Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson and several other women working at the conservative-leaning news network accused former chairman Roger Ailes of sexual misconduct.
A “bombshell” could be thought of as either an attractive (and typically blonde) woman, or a jaw-dropping piece of news. In Roach’s film, which tells the story of three very blonde women, the definition is twofold.
In the first official teaser for Bombshell, Margot Robbie plays a composite fictional character named Kayla Pospisi who enters an elevator to ostensibly relay reports of sexual harassment in the workplace to the Fox News HR department. She is then joined by Megyn Kelly, played by a nearly unrecognizable Charlize Theron, and Gretchen Carlson, played by Nicole Kidman (with another wild wig atop her dome).
The trailer ends with Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson, and Kayla Pospisi standing in an empty elevator, in a shot that evokes a scene from Mad Men‘s season four episode titled “The Beautiful Girls,” in which Joan Holloway, Peggy Olson, and Faye Miller stand side by side in an elevator of an office where their status as women in a working world is often exploited by their male colleagues.
Not much is said, but the discomfort between the three, and the ultimate realization that they are all going to the same place with likely similar stories of workplace harassment, is palpable.
Earlier this summer, Showtime revealed their take on the Fox News scandal with a miniseries called The Loudest Voice, starring Naomi Watts as Gretchen Carlson and Russell Crowe as the disgraced media mogul. But that show focused mostly on Ailes and his influence on the Republican Party, flashing back between his time at the network during 9/11, the 2008 and 2016 elections, and finishing with his downfall.
There’s a lot of star power not just with the three leads of Bombshell, but in the supporting players as well. John Lithgow, Allison Janney, Connie Britton, and Malcolm McDowell join the Bombshell cast as Ailes, his attorney attorney Susan Estrich, his wife Beth, and Rupert Murdoch, respectively. Kate McKinnon will also appear in an undisclosed role, alongside Ashley Greene, Rob Delaney, Alice Eve, and Mark Duplass.
Until now, this film’s title remained a mystery (it was referred to as the Untitled Jay Roach Project, or more generally, “the Roger Ailes Movie”). Bombshell was also initially set to be distributed by Annapurna Pictures, but the distributor backed out at the end of 2018, leaving Lionsgate to swoop in and take over distribution for the film, which will be released on December 20.