'Bombshell': A Visual Guide to the Cast and Their Real-Life FOX Counterparts
By Stacy Lambe
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Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie aren’t pulling any punches in Bombshell, the new biographical film about the women at FOX News who exposed the Roger Ailes sexual misconduct scandal and eventually took down the TV titan. While boasting a star-studded cast, the film's story is told through the eyes of news anchors Gretchen Carlson (Kidman) and Megyn Kelly (Theron), as well as a composite character, associate producer Kayla Pospisil (Robbie), who were targets of abuse by the former FOX News boss.
Given the complex and expansive nature of the scandal, it’s no wonder that the movie features a robust ensemble playing various FOX employees and those responsible for investigating the allegations against Ailes. In addition to John Lithgow’s portrayal of Ailes, Allison Janney, Connie Britton and other notable character actors feature in the film.
While speaking with ET, former FOX News host Abby Huntsman, who is portrayed by Ashley Greene in the film, reflected on everything that happened with Ailes. “This will go down as one of the biggest moments in history,” The View co-host said, before revealing that the project hits close to home.
With the film now in theaters, ET breaks down the ensemble of stars and who they’re portraying in the film:
Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly
Theron, who won an Oscar for portraying Aileen Wuornos in Monster, takes on the role of Kelly, easily the most complicated and conflicted character of the actress’ career. “I loved when Megyn took it to Trump. I admired her sharpness, her wit. She was fearless. But when my production company received the script for Bombshell, I was conflicted about playing her,” Theron tells W Magazine. “I personally felt uncomfortable with some of the stuff that she's said.”
Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson
Following her Emmy-winning turn on HBO’s Big Little Lies, Kidman takes on the role of Carlson, who was the first to publicly stand up against Ailes. “This film is a very powerful film… and Charlize really sort of championed getting it made,” Kidman previously revealed to ET about her co-star’s role as a producer on the film. “So when Margot and I came in, we went, ‘Yeah, of course, we want to be there, we want to support you. We want to get this thing made.’”
John Lithgow as Roger Ailes
Coming off an Emmy win for his portrayal of Winston Churchill on The Crown, the 74-year-old actor was “enormously excited” to take on Ailes in Bombshell. While he was able to resist prosthetic makeup on the Netflix drama, he submitted here. “It was about two and a half hours every shooting day,” Lithgow tells ET about his transformation. “I put on that fat suit and those frumpy costumes and it took about five seconds to feel like the man.”
Connie Britton as Beth Ailes
A four-time Emmy nominee, Britton is best known for her roles on Friday Night Lights, Nashville, American Horror Story: Murder House and Dirty John. In Bombshell, she plays Roger’s wife of 20 years, who became the publisher of two local Putnam County newspapers near their upstate New York home. She reportedly defended her husband against the initial allegations of sexual misconduct. “I think we’re really going to learn a lot about our own history, because Roger Ailes has really had a huge impact in the last two decades,” the 52-year-old actress previously told ET, adding that the film will highlight how the country arrived at a fractious modern political atmosphere.
Malcolm McDowell as Rupert Murdoch
A longtime character actor, McDowell has appeared in everything from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange to Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle. In the film, he takes on Murdoch, the Australian-born media mogul who founded News Corp and later created FOX News Channel.
Mark Duplass as Douglas Brunt
Brunt is a novelist and former president and CEO of the cybersecurity firm Authentium. In 2008, he married Kelly, and the two have three kids together. In the film, he’s portrayed by Duplass, who also appears in the Apple TV+ series The Morning Show, opposite Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. “When I take roles now, it’s a lot of like, ‘Oh, I’m going to play the husband role to Charlize Theron and be the supporting actor in this. And when I’m on The Morning Show, I play No. 5 on the cast list to support Reese and Jen and their vision,” Duplass tells ET about what it means to be an ally to women in Hollywood.
Robin Weigert as Nancy Erika Smith
A longtime character actress, Weigert famously played Calamity Jane on HBO’s Deadwood -- a role that she reprised for the film -- and therapist to Kidman on Big Little Lies. In Bombshell, she once again plays a supporting player to Kidman as one of Carlson’s lawyers who takes on Ailes.
Mark Moses as Bill Shine
Best known for his roles of Paul Young on Desperate Housewives and Herman “Duck” Phillips on Mad Men, Moses takes on the role of one of Ailes’ key producers and executives at Fox News. After being forced out of the network, Shine went on to briefly serve as the White House deputy chief of staff for communications for President Donald Trump.
Alanna Ubach as Judge Jeanine Pirro
Ubach, who has previously appeared in Legally Blonde, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce and Euphoria, takes on Pirro in Bombshell. Prior to her current role as host on the FOX News Channel program Justice with Judge Jeanine, Pirro was famous for serving as the investigating attorney in the 1982 disappearance of Kathie Durst.
Nazanin Boniadi as Rudi Bakhtiar
The Iranian-British actress has previously appeared on Homeland, How I Met Your Mother and Scandal. In addition to her appearance as Rudi Bakhtiar -- a journalist who filed a sexual harassment complaint against FOX News’ Washington bureau chief -- in Bombshell, she’s also a series regular on the Starz series Counterpart.
Bree Condon as Kimberly Guilfoyle
Condon is a 33-year-old actress who has appeared on The Haves and the Have Nots and The Young and the Restless. In the film, she takes on the role of the former FOX News personality and co-host of The Five. In 2018, around the time she left the network, it was revealed that Guilfoyle was reportedly dating Donald Trump Jr.
The film’s other real-life characters include Oscar winner Allison Janney (I, Tonya) as Ailes’ lawyer Susan Estrich, Jennifer Morrison (This Is Us) as Juliet Huddy, Elisabeth Röhm (Law & Order) as Martha MacCallum, Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) as Alisyn Camerota, Alice Eve (Entourage) as Ainsley Earhardt, Ahna O'Reilly (The Help) as Julie Roginsky, Anne Ramsay (Mad About You) as Greta Van Susteren and Amy Landecker (Transparent) and Brooke Smith (Grey’s Anatomy) as Fox News employees Dianne Brandi and Irena Briganti, respectively.
Additionally, Richard Kind (Spin City) appears as Rudy Giuliani, with Michael Buie (Grey’s Anatomy) as Bret Baier, comedian Kevin Dorff as Bill O'Reilly, Marc Evan Jackson (The Good Place) as Chris Wallace, Spencer Garrett (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) as Sean Hannity, Tony Plana (Ugly Betty) as Geraldo Rivera, P.J. Byrne (The Wolf of Wall Street) as Neil Cavuto, Josh Lawson (House of Lies) as James Murdoch, Ben Lawson (Designated Survivor) as Lachlan Murdoch and Stephen Root (Barry) and John Rothman (Law & Order: SVU) as members of Carlson’s legal team, Neil Mullin and Martin Hyman, respectively.
Kate McKinnon as Jess Carr and Margot Robbie as Kayla Pospisil (composite characters)
The Saturday Night Live star, who has made memorable film appearances in Ghostbusters and Yesterday, plays a Bill O’Reilly producer and co-worker to Robbie’s character, who transfers from Carlson’s team to O’Reilly’s. Robbie, who previously earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Tonya Harding in I, Tonya, plays an amalgamation of the women who came forward with accusations against Ailes.
Speaking to ET about working on the film, Robbie reveals she “had prepared myself for something spectacular… I was like, ‘The bar is set very, very high in my mind.’” And somehow, she says, “it exceeded those expectations.”
Other composite characters in the film played by notable actors include D'Arcy Carden (The Good Place) as Rebekah, Holland Taylor (Mr. Mercedes) as Ailes’ assistant Faye Orselli and the members of Megyn Kelly’s FOX production team: Brigette Lundy-Paine (Atypical) as Julia Clarke, Liv Hewson (Santa Clarita Diet) as Lily Balin and Rob Delaney (Catastrophe) as Gil Norman.