Fresh after starring as a James Bond in her own right in Atomic Blonde, Charlize Theron is moving from what many would consider the realm of heroes to that of villains, having signed on to play Megyn Kelly, Fox News superstar turned host of a rather unsuccessful NBC morning show. Theron will star as Kelly in a new film about Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News until 2016, when he was accused of sexual misconduct.
It's no secret that Kelly is not very well liked on both sides of the political spectrum; she's a frequent target of ire by Donald Trump, who once famously suggested that he was asking her "ridiculous questions" because she was menstruating. (For her part, she's since invited three women to tell their stories of Trump's own sexual misconduct on her show.) At the same time, though, Kelly, who's 42, has also been both a success story of a woman in the industry—and a victim of the conservative system she's worked in, which'll no doubt make playing her challenging for Theron, 47.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, which first broke the news, the film will be directed by Jay Roach, who's also set to direct the TV adaptation of Michael Wolff's buzzy best-seller Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House; produced by Annapurna, which is also putting out a Dick Cheney biopic; and written by the Academy Award-winning Charles Randolph, who's most notably been behind the screenplay of The Big Short. Theron, who has 15 producer credits and counting under her belt, is also set to produce the film as well. Though, the project has yet to begin filming and is still untitled, with no immediate release date in sight. It's also unclear just how far back the story will go with Ailes, Fox News, and Kelly. Ailes first started at the network in 1996, whereas Kelly was a news anchor at Fox from 2004 to 2017, who rose from occasional segments to her own nightly show, The Kelly File—an ascent that even Kelly herself has often credited to Ailes's longtime mentorship and support.
Still, Kelly has claimed that Ailes began harassing her from the first year she began working at the network, allegedly asking her to see her "very sexy bras" and eventually grabbing her in repeated attempts at a kiss. In between his bouts of professional help, Ailes liked to pepper in career threats whenever Kelly rejected his advances, such as the time he asked her pointedly when her contract was up. By the fall of 2016, Kelly went as far as calling the idea of coming forward about his misconduct as "a suicide mission for me and my career." ("I’d been at the company 12 months when he was doing this to me. I wasn’t Megyn Kelly of today. I had no power. And he was on the cover of industry magazines as the most powerful man in news. There was no one to go to. If I’d gone to the general counsel of the company, it would have been me—first-year person—against the the CEO of the company," she added.)
Even up until a day after the allegations broke, Kelly continued to stand by Ailes; while on air with Charlie Rose—no stranger to sexual harassment claims himself—Kelly said that she "really care[s] about Roger, and he has been nothing but good to me. And he’s been very loyal. And he’s had my back. And he’s looked out for me."
That came to be after, at the urging of her supervisor, Kelly eventually stopped avoiding Ailes, leading them to have what she described as "a healthy, working relationship." She also added that "what he said about promoting me and having my back over the next several years is true. It was one of the reasons why even I found it hard to believe that he was a serial harasser when the lawsuit broke and then women started coming forward anonymously, but it soon became clear to me that after reading the allegations that at least an investigation was necessary."
Of course, in May 2017 Ailes died suddenly at the age of 77. Meanwhile, Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News anchor who opened the floodgates of allegations against Ailes when she filed a sexual harassment suit against him in the summer of 2016, will also be depicted in the biopic, though there's no news on who'll portray her—or Ailes—as of yet.